Conjunctivitis in dogs

A dog’s eyesight is not as developed as human’s eyesight. Unlike humans, dogs can barely make a distinction between different colors. However because of the way dog’s eyes are situated, they can have a very wide field of vision. Although the other sensitive senses enable dogs to be excellent hunters and guards, the assistance of the eyes in the performance of these duties cannot be discounted. Dogs have the ability to detect movements behind them. Because of a special membrane in the eyes, dogs can see better in the dark as well. Loyal, affectionate, protective… these are only some of the qualities that make dogs human’s wonderful companions. It is therefore the duty of every dog owner to keep the pet away from diseases that can adversely affect their quality of life.

Conjunctivitis is one of the common canine eye infections. The conjunctiva, the transparent mucus membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the white part of the eye lubricates the eyes with the mucus and the tears it produces. However, because of the various irritants the eye is exposed to, the conjunctiva gets inflamed. This eye infection is called conjunctivitis or pink eye as the inflammation of the sclera or the white portion of the eye causes severe redness. The most common cause for canine conjunctivitis is bacterial and viral infections. We know how energetic dogs are so that foreign objects can get into the eyes. Dirt, an insect, a grain of sand that can get lodged in the eyes would cause immense discomfort. These eye irritants can cause the inflammation of the eyes. The inflammation of the conjunctiva can be due to an allergy or to an eye injury.

Conjunctivitis is not really life threatening. Nevertheless, the afflicted dog must be given the necessary treatment as the infection can spread to the other structures of the eyes and impair the dog’s vision permanently. Apart from the fact that conjunctivitis can be transmitted to other pets, the dog’s condition must be given prompt attention as conjunctivitis can be a symptom of the life threatening canine distemper. But before treatment can be administered, an owner has to be certain that conjunctivitis is what makes the dog uncomfortable. As dogs cannot verbalize what makes them uncomfortable, it would be up to the owner to know the symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be administered. The dog will continually squint to keep the eyeball covered by the eyelid. The increased size of the blood vessels in the eye tissues as well as the fluid buildup would give the conjunctiva a red and meaty appearance. Conjunctivitis will make the eyes swell and weep but the discharge will determine the cause of the infection. Bacterial and fungal infection will have a thick yellowish or greenish discharge so that after sleeping, the dog would find it difficult to open the eyes as the eyelashes and the eyelids would stick together. This discharge is actually pus or white blood cells that are excreted by the dog’s system into the eyes to ward off further infection. Conjunctivitis caused by allergies would create clear watery discharge. Conjunctivitis is extremely itchy so that the dog will be seen rubbing the eyes with the paw or rubbing the eyes against objects.

Treatment for this eye infection will depend on the cause thus the condition of the eyes should be carefully assessed. Lukewarm water can be used to irrigate the eyes to remove any foreign object. Eye medications will be necessary if conjunctivitis is caused by infection. The vet would prescribe eye drops or ointments that will give the pet quick relief. Oral antibiotics can be administered if the dog’s conjunctivitis is severe.

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