Dog Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Conjunctivitis, aka "dog pink eye", is a rather common eye problem in dogs. It is characterized by reddening of the affected eye and an eye discharge. This page looks at the symptoms and possible causes of this eye problem, and how to use natural remedies such as herbal eye wash and/or compress and homeopathy to treat pink eye in dogs.

Dog Pink Eye Pink eye, medically known as conjunctivitis, refers generally to the inflammation of the mucous membranes and soft tissues surrounding the dog's eye, which may look severely bloodshot or irritated.

As indicated in the name, this problem can be easily recognized by the pink color of the afflicted dog's eye.

The mucous membrane that surrounds and covers the eyeball surface is called the conjuctival membrane. It has many important functions such as protecting the eyeball, holding the eyeball in place, and distributing tears and moisture throughout the eyeball so that it is adequately lubricated all the time.

When the conjunctival membrane is inflamed or infected by harmful substances such as bacteria or other irritants, the proper functioning of the membrane is disrupted. This results in pink eye where the eye becomes dry and irritated.

Symptoms of Dog Conjunctivitis

  • Reddening of the eyes.
  • Excessive tearing.
  • A discharge from the corner of one or both eyes - the discharge can be watery or thick; can be yellow, white, green, or bloody.
  • Eyes may be closed.
  • The dog may be rubbing his face on the floor or other objects, and may be scratching around the eye area.
  • The dog may look listless and weak.
  • The dog may refuse to go outside because his eye is sensitive to the light.

If you notice your pet has developed conjunctivitis, you should first determine the severity of the problem.

Take your dog to a veterinarian if:

  • he is weak and listless;
  • the discharge from the eyes is thick, bloody, or looks infected;
  • he feels pain in the eyes, or if he keeps them shut
  • he is not eating;
  • the condition is caused by a trauma, e.g. a cat scratch, or ulceration of the cornea.

It would be helpful information for the vet if you could find out the cause of your dog's condition. Here are some questions that may give you some clue:

  • Was the onset of this condition sudden? Was your pet injured in a fight?
  • Has your dog been out where foreign bodies (such as foxtail or debris) might have entered his eye?
  • Does your pet show any signs of allergy such as sneezing?
  • Has your dog had this condition before, or is this an isolated incident?
  • Are there any other symptoms of illness?

Causes of Pink Eye in Dogs

This eye infection may be a result of various causes, the most common ones are:

  • Bacterial infection (bacterial conjunctivitis)

    Probably the most common form, and is typically spread by contact, such as contact with humans who are carrying the disease, other dogs, or even flying insects.

  • Viral infection

    This form of infection is transmitted in much the same way as bacterial conjunctivitis. Some of the viruses that cause dog pink eye are airborne, and little can be done to protect against them.

  • Allergies (allergic conjunctivitis)

    If your dog is allergic to certain kinds of foods, or other airborne allergens, he can develop pink eye as a result of sinus irritation and inflammation of the mucus membranes.

  • Trauma, e.g. from a fight
  • Foreign bodies, e.g. a piece of splinter
  • Inadequate tear production, resulting in a condition known as "dry eye".

Natural Remedies for Dog Pink Eye

Some natural remedies such as herbs and supplements can be used to help treat pink eye in dogs.

Herbal Remedies

If you can determine that your dog's conjunctivitis is minor and there is no ulceration, try these herbal remedies. They are safe and they work!

Herbal eye drops

Put a quarter of a teaspoon of salt in one cup of distilled or filtered water. Add about 10 drops of any of the following herbal tinctures:

  • Eyebright
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Red clover
  • Golden seal

Use a dropper pipette to rinse the affected eye 2 or 3 times a day.

Herbal eye compress

If you find it difficult to apply eyedrops to your pet, try using a compress. Soak a piece of sterile cotton in an herbal tea and apply it to your pet's eye for a few minutes, 2 or 3 times a day.

One simple way to make an herbal tea is to steep a chamomile teabag in a cup of hot water. Let the tea cool and use it over the eye. Remember to throw away the cotton piece after use!

An Alternative

Alternatively, you can also consider using this gentle eye rinse. It is a sterile ophthalmic solution that is specially formulated for sensitive eyes and can cleanse the eyes and help relieve irritation and discomfort:

Puppy Banner

A Great Chinese Herbal Product for Dog Eyes

This Chinese herbal remedy for dogs is beneficial to dogs with eye conditions such as conjunctivitis, eye infections/inflammation, dry eyes, cloudy eyes, etc.

It contains Chinese herbs (such as chrysanthemum, rehmannia, cassia seed) that have traditionally been used to treat eye problems. Very effective!

Other Treatments for Conjunctivitis in Dogs

  • Similasan Irritated Eye Relief Drops: This homeopathic treatment may be a choice for mild cases of dog pink eye, especially for cases of allergic conjunctivitis.

    Use the eye drops for a short period of time (no more than 2 weeks), and if the condition does not go away, please be sure to seek veterinary assistance.

  • Vitamins C and E: Vitamins C (5-10 mg per pound, 2-3 times daily) and E (5-10 mg per pound, once daily) help reduce inflammation and stimulate healing.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is effective in stimulating corneal healing. Cod liver oil (one drop) can be applied directly in the eye every day until the condition goes away.