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Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Dogs can get pink eye.

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the tissues inside the eye. It is also sometimes called pink eye.

Causes of Canine Conjunctivitis

The causes of conjunctivitis in dogs are varied and may include:

  • Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection
  • Irritant or allergy
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Eye trauma
  • Other eye diseases, such as dry eye syndrome

Signs of Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye in Dogs

Dogs with conjunctivitis generally have eyes that appear to be bloodshot. The soft tissues under the eyelids may swell and look red, as well. Drainage from the eyes is common, and your dog may rub at his eyes or squint.

Diagnosis of Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Usually, conjunctivitis is diagnosed by a veterinarian during a physical exam. A complete history may help the doctor determine the cause of the pink eye. For instance, a dog that is sneezing may have conjunctivitis secondary to an upper respiratory infection.

Your veterinarian may run some tests on your dog's eye to ensure that something other than conjunctivitis isn't causing the problem or that the pink eye hasn't resulted in a secondary issue. The doctor may check for corneal ulcers and check the pressure in your dog's eyes. He or she will also likely look carefully at the eye to ensure there isn't a foreign object like a grass awn stuck under the lids, causing irritation and injury.

Treatment of Canine Pink Eye

Treatment of uncomplicated conjunctivitis usually includes eye drops or ointment. Your veterinarian may choose antibiotics and/or steroid drops to treat the problem.

If another condition has been diagnosed as the cause of the conjunctivitis or if the pink eye has resulted in a secondary problem, that may need to be treated as well.

Your dog may need to wear an Elizabethan collar until the problem is resolved if he is rubbing at his eyes.

You can learn more about common canine eye problems here: "Common Eye Conditions in Dogs."

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