Conjunctivitis is a condition that not only affects humans, but also dogs of any breed. As the name suggests, it is a condition where the eye conjunctiva gets irritated and swollen. It can be triggered by various causes like airborne allergies, dry eye or some other conditions like canine distemper. It may at times also accompany some respiratory or eye injury or infection.
Symptoms of the condition include bloody eyes and swollen eyelids because of the inflammation of the eye’s cornea and tissues surrounding the inner eyelids. The eyes also usually start producing lots of tears and your dog may end up scratching or pawing the eye region. It is in severe cases that the eyes swell so much that your dog can’t even open or close his eyes completely. And in rare cases, the condition can lead to blindness due to permanent cornea damage.
Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination to diagnose the condition. The examination is started by applying a drop of anaesthetic drops to the eye. The drop numbs the eye surface and makes it easy for your veterinarian to conduct the examination. This is when your vet will look to ascertain if the infection is due to some foreign object, wound or something else, and treat it accordingly.
And before any treatment is done, it is okay and important to first clean your dog’s eyes to remove any dirt or discharge it may have. This is easy to do. You just have to pour some lukewarm water into the dog’s eyes, and then use a clean piece of cloth to wipe the eyes.
Depending on the severity of the condition, there are various treatment options you can try for your dog’s eyes. It ranges from using eye drops and ointments for relief from the discomfort to opting for surgery in the extreme cases.
There are also some simple remedies you can try at home, but whatever you do; you need to first determine the trigger for the condition. Sometimes a foreign body stuck in the eye can lead to conjunctivitis which has to be removed before starting any treatment. In such cases, it is better to approach your veterinarian to remove the object. You may only end up causing additional damage to your dog’s sensitive eyes while trying to remove it.
Dog conjunctivitis treatment options
It’s safe to try treating your dog at home if it is a mild case of conjunctivitis, without any ulceration. You can try cleaning and treat the eye irritation using distilled water. The effects are enhanced if you mix some herbal tinctures of Calendula, Sanicula, Pulsatilla, Euphrasia, Chamomile or St. John’s wort with the water.
However, you will have to first heat the distilled water a bit. Then add a few drops of your chosen tincture to the slightly hot water. The next step involves using an eye dropper to rinse your dog’s eyes with this solution. It is safe to use the solution a maximum of three to four times a day, and make sure any excess solution remaining around the eyes is wiped off.
Herbal tea compress
In case your dog is not so cooperative, and you are finding it difficult using the eye drops to apply the solution to his eyes, then you can try using herbal eye compresses. This is also easy to make because you just have to make a herbal tea. The alternative option is to soak a compress in the distilled water solution. You then have to apply, and hold the compress onto your dog’s eyes for about 5 to 10 minutes, three to four times a day. There should be some improvement in your dog’s condition within a maximum of two weeks’ time. If not, it is better to consult your veterinarian.
Vitamins can help your dog by reducing the conjunctivitis swelling and irritation. Vitamins E and C help reduce the inflammation while vitamin A helps treat irritation in the cornea. As cod oil has vitamin A, you could alternatively apply a drop of cod oil to your dog’s eyes every day.
Other treatment options
Your veterinarian will suggest other appropriate treatment options. Once the main cause of the infection is ascertained, your vet will most probably prescribe some antibiotic treatment, along with some drops or ointments for direct application to the eyes. Antibiotics not only treat the condition but also prevent a reoccurrence.
In case the conjunctivitis is due to some allergy, and then based on the allergy, your dog may be prescribed antihistamines, allergy shots or some corticosteroids. And in case the conjunctivitis is associated with some other ailment like upper respiratory infection, then your vet may prescribe some antibiotics and oral medications. Though there usually is some improvement in the eyes within a few treatments, you still have to complete the prescribed, full treatment course.
Surgery may be required to treat the misshaped eyelid if the conjunctivitis is due to entropion. And if your dog has a dry eye condition, then he may require some long-term management treatment to control the condition.
The veterinarian usually suggests visits during the course of treatment to ascertain how well your dog is responding to the prescribed treatment. It is during these visits that your vet decides if the treatment has to be changed or continued. It’s only in rare cases that your veterinarian will resort to surgically removing the eye so that there is no chance of any further inflammation, infection or pain.
As always known, prevention is always better than cure. Instead of letting your dog go through the trauma of a conjunctivitis infection, it is better to adopt some measures to prevent an infection.
You can perhaps minimize your dog’s exposure to airborne triggers like cigarette smoke, dust and perfumes and keep a check on your dog while playing. This prevents the risks of any trauma like blows to the eyes. It also helps if you maintain your dog’s vaccinations so that your dog is protected from systemic diseases like canine distemper that affect the whole body and induce conjunctivitis.