Conjunctivitis is one of the most common diseases in dogs. Some dog breeds even have a special predisposition to this due to anatomical or genetic characteristics. However, most conjunctivitis is unproblematic if it is treated quickly and efficiently. Read more about preventive measures, how to recognize conjunctivitis and what to do in this case.

How does conjunctivitis occur in dogs?

The eyes of the dog are protected by eyelids, as in humans. Inside, they are lined with a mucous membrane. This is the conjunctiva (conjunctiva). Inflammation of the conjunctiva is called conjunctivitis in veterinary jargon.

The most common causes of an irritated and, as a result, an inflamed conjunctiva are foreign bodies in the eye. These can be allergenic substances such as pollen or dust. But drafts also irritate the eyes. A contagious conjunctivitis in dogs is present if it was triggered by viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites.

In addition, special breeding characteristics promote inflammation of the eye. These include the big googly eyes of Pugs, French bulldogs and boxers. The genetically predetermined eyelid cleft of these breeds can be too small or too large, too wide or too narrow. Hairy eyelid edges, such as those found in bloodhounds and cocker spaniels, are also often to blame for conjunctivitis.

How does conjunctivitis manifest itself in dogs?

The clearest signs of inflamed eyes are discharge, swelling and redness. The eye discharge can be clear and liquid, or slimy to purulent-yellow and sticky. In viral infections, such as with the herpes virus, small blisters are formed, which are extremely painful, stinging and itchy for dogs.

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Symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs include:

The animal tries to rub against the eye or scratch with its claws.

The dog blinks frequently and pinches his eyes vigorously.

The eyes may watery or produce another (purulent) discharge.

The eyes may be reddened and sensitive to light.

How is conjunctivitis treated in dogs?

Depending on the diagnosed cause and extent of conjunctivitis, the treatment is different. Uncomplicated conjunctivitis caused by drafts or dust can in most cases be treated quickly and easily with special eye drops by the veterinarian. Mild inflammation with clear and non-purulent discharge can first be treated with eyebright complex. For a quick diagnosis, you can simply contact the experienced veterinarians of Dr. Fressnapf. Our veterinary team will advise you stress-free during business hours and usually without waiting times online. The veterinarians examine your dog’s eyes via video chat. This gives you an immediate health assessment and well-founded advice for further treatment – for example with eyebright complex. Visiting a veterinary practice is only necessary if inpatient treatment is required for your darling.

In the case of long-lasting or even chronic conjunctivitis in dogs, a visit to the veterinarian is strongly recommended, especially if the eye begins to fester. The veterinarian will first prescribe eye drops, eye ointments, or eye gels, which usually include an antibiotic agent. Bacteria often occur as a side effect even with non-bacterial inflammation.

In the case of inflammation caused by fungi or spores, antifungal agents (antifungal agents) are used. Also, in this case, you should seek the advice of a veterinarian.

If your dog suffers from severe allergies and, if necessary, other symptoms, hyposensitization may be worthwhile. This is a long-term therapy in which the dog is accustomed to the allergenic substances so that with the optimal course no symptoms occur over time.

In the worst case, surgical interventions are necessary, especially if foreign bodies or parasites in the eye need to be removed. Ticks, for example, like to nest on the eye. Removing the parasite with common tools such as tick pliers, in this case, is difficult to impossible. If remnants of the tick remain in the eye, serious inflammation can develop.

The duration of conjunctivitis in dogs is accordingly different. It can be cured after a few days without complications, but can also take weeks, especially with serious infections.

How can you prevent conjunctivitis in dogs?

Especially with allergically sensitive dogs, you should avoid known triggers such as pollen or grasses. A healthy diet and a strong immune system reduce the likelihood of inflammation. Likewise, your dog’s basket or favorite corner should not be exposed to permanent drafts or air conditioning.

Small breeds that are close to the ground with their heads often have inflamed eyes. Treat these preventively with mild special dog eye drops and washes, which you get in the veterinary pharmacy or at Fressnapf.

In the case of race-related malformations of the eyelid, only surgery against chronically inflamed eyes can help. More information about eyes in dogs can be found in the Fressnapf guide eye care for dogs.


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