What Is a Pink Eye in Dogs?

Can Dogs Get Pink Eye? Your Question Answered

Pink eye in dogs is the popular term for conjunctivitis – inflammation of the conjunctiva (the tissue that lines the dog’s eyeball and eyelids).

But, before answering “can dogs get pink eye, “ we should explain the condition.

Pink eye in dogs can be triggered by various issues, ranging from eye infections to eye injuries, and it can affect one or both eyes, as well as dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes.

Despite the name, pink eye should not be confused with the eye condition called cherry eye, which is a prolapse of the third eyelid.

What Are the Symptoms of Pink Eye in Dogs?

The symptoms of canine conjunctivitis or pink eye in dogs include:

  • Redness. Obviously, redness is one of the telltale signs of irritation. So, if your dog has pink eye, the white of the eye will be pinkish, or in severe cases, even red.
  • Puffy Eyelids. Puffy eyelids can indicate dog pink eye disease. Swelling is another sign of eye irritation and almost always accompanies the explained redness.
  • Stringy Discharge. Eye discharge is another sign of conjunctivitis in dogs. This is likely in dogs with bacterial conjunctivitis and viral conjunctivitis.
  • Watery Eyes. Pink eye causes problems with your dog’s mucous membrane and can also lead to watery eyes.
  • Pawing at the Eyes. If your dog keeps pawing at their eyes, chances are that they have pink eye. The pawing is, in fact, the dog’s attempt to remove the cause of irritation.
  • Squinting. Squinting is one of the most common symptoms of conjunctivitis and eye issues in general. It can also be accompanied by excessive blinking.

Depending on the underlying cause, this eye condition can be followed by additional signs such as sneezing and a runny nose.

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What Causes Pink Eye in Dogs?

There are several causes of pink eye in dogs. The most common causes of conjunctivitis include:

  • Bacterial Infections. Bacteria such as Staphylococcus spp. and Streptococcus spp. can irritate the eye and cause inflammation.
  • Viral Infections. Viruses can also cause infection of the conjunctiva. The most common culprit is the Canine distemper.
  • Parasites. External pests in dogs, such as fleas, ticks, and mites, can all cause irritation around the eyes, which, combined with scratching, may result in pink eye.
  • Allergic Reactions. Allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, and dander can all cause pink eye or, in this case, allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Environmental Irritants. Perfumes and smoke are strong chemicals, and, if present in larger amounts in the environment, can irritate the dog’s eyes.
  • Eyelid/Eyelash Defects. Eyelid abnormalities (like entropion and ectropion) and eyelash issues (such as distichia) cause mechanical irritation of the cornea, which may result in pink eye.
  • Foreign Bodies. A foreign body inside the eye is a common cause of irritation. Dogs may get foreign objects like foxtails, grains, grass awns, or sand.
  • Dry Eye. Also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KKS) is a specific type of eye infection, that manifests with excessive dryness and irritation and is caused by inadequate tear production or issues with the tear ducts.
  • Eye Injury. Finally, pink eye can be the result of an eye injury. Such injuries are usually due to mechanical trauma. However, they can also be caused by unresolved eye problems.

How Do You Treat Pink Eye in Dogs?

The exact treatment depends on the cause of your dog’s pink eye. Here is a close review of some of the best treatment options:

  • Cold Compresses. Cold compresses can soothe the dog’s irritated eye and provide pain relief. This home remedy is efficient but must be used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Artificial Tears. These are perfect for keeping your dog’s eyes hydrated. They can help wash their eyes and improve their health overall.
  • Antibiotics. The vet may prescribe antibiotics if the cause of the infection was a pathogen. Eye meds with antibiotics come in the form of eye drops and ointments.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. In cases where the pink eye has caused swelling in the eye, these drugs can help counter this condition.
  • Steroid Eye Drops. These eye drops are mostly prescribed by the vet and used in the most extreme case. They can have a strong impact on your dog’s eye overall.
  • Antihistamines. These are basically anti-allergy meds that can prevent an allergic reaction and also help reduce inflammation.

Do I Need to Take My Dog to the Vet for Pink Eye?

Can Dogs Get Pink Eye

Yes, if you suspect that your dog has pink eye, it is best to take them to the vet.

The vet will be able to give your an accurate diagnosis and offer you the best treatment plan. To determine the underlying cause of your dog’s pink eye, the vet will perform diagnostic tests like bacterial culture, allergy testing, conjunctival cytology, nasolacrimal duct flushing, and biopsy.

What Are Some Things You Should Avoid Doing if Your Dog Has Pink Eye?

As a pet parent, some of the things that you can avoid include:

  • Make sure that your dog does not paw their face.
  • Keep your dog’s claws away from their eyes.
  • Prevent your dog from rubbing its face on the furniture and other places.
  • Use a cone if your dog is being stubborn.
  • Do not give unnecessary medications without talking to your vet.
  • Do not dry out your dog’s eye, and keep it hydrated.

Will Pink Eye on Dogs Go Away on Its Own?

While pink eye can go away on its own, it is a rare scenario.

More often than not, the irritation progresses and triggers eye infection, which may damage your dog’s cornea. Early and proper treatment is vital for managing pink eye, and therefore, it is critical that you seek veterinary help.

What Can I do To Prevent My Pet from Getting Pink Eye?

As pet parents, you need to take care of the following aspects to prevent your pet from getting pink eye:

  • Hygiene. Ensure that you maintain hygiene in your home and around your dog’s belongings. This can prevent the outbreak of many diseases and also prevent allergies.
  • Eye Care. Regular washing can keep your dog’s eyes clean. This can prevent the outbreak of diseases such as pink eye.
  • Vaccinations. Your dog should be up to date with their vaccinations. Talk to your vet to complete this formality at the earliest.
  • Exercise. Keeping your dog exercised and fit can also prevent diseases. These can also boost your dog’s ability to fight off infections.
  • Vet Visits. Periodic vet visits can help cure a disease even before it starts. Your vet can provide you with valuable information about your dog’s health.