Dog Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

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Dog Pink Eye

What is 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?

What 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 mucous membranes.

Trauma

Dogs can also get an eye infection from some kind of trauma to the eye, e.g. from a cat fight.

Foreign Bodies

Another common cause of pink eye in dogs is foreign bodies (e.g. a piece of splinter) that have entered the eye, causing irritation and excessive tearing. As a result, the dog may be constantly pawing at the eye and eventually an infection may set in.

Inadequate Tear Production

Some dogs have a condition known as "dry eye", in which the eye is not able to produce enough tears. Because there is not enough tears to flush dirt and bacteria from the eye, infections occur more easily.

Conventional Treatment

Treatment naturally depends on the root cause. For example, if it is a bacterial infection, your vet will most likely prescribe a topical antibiotic drop or ointment, and oral antibiotic medication.

If allergies are the culprits, treatment will be directed at managing and controlling the allergies as well.

The key is to get a proper diagnosis to find out the root cause of your dog's pink eye before treatment.

Some dog parents may wonder if the pink eye will go away on its own. The answer is unfortunately "No." If left untreated, it will only get worse. It is therefore important to get your dog to a vet when you notice symptoms of pink eye.

Natural Remedies for Dog Pink Eye

If you can determine that your dog's conjunctivitis is minor and there is no ulceration, some natural remedies such as herbs and supplements can be used to help treat pink eye in dogs.

1. 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
  • Goldenseal

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

2. Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin A, which is effective in stimulating corneal healing. A drop of Cod liver oil can be applied directly in the eye every day until the condition goes away.

3. Chamomile 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!

4. Natural Eye Rinse

Alternatively, you can also consider using Only Natural Pet Eye Care - Gentle Eye Rinse for Dogs and Cats (Affiliate link). It is a sterile ophthalmic solution that is specially formulated for sensitive eyes and can cleanse the eyes and help relieve irritation and discomfort.

5. PetAlive Eye-Heal

PetAlive Eye-Heal (Affiliate link) is a natural herbal tincture that is effective in soothing the eyes, reducing inflammation, and treating and preventing eye infections in dogs.

6. A Chinese Herbal Product for Dog Eyes

Use Nature's Herbs for Pets Clear Vision (Affiliate link) internally for your dog's pink eye.

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!

7. Vitamins C and E

Vitamins C (5-10 mg per pound, 2-3 times daily) and E (5-10 mg per pound, once daily) are antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. They help reduce inflammation and stimulate healing.

How To Treat Dog Pink Eye At Home

References
Eldredge, et al. Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook 4th edition (Wiley Publishing, 2007).
C.J. Puotinen, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats (Keats Publishing, 1999).
R.H. Pitcairn, The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats (Rodale, 2005).

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