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Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes and Symptoms

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: October 4, 2017
Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes and Symptoms

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Conjunctivitis in dogs is an eye condition characterized by inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the inside of the eyelids. Sometimes the swelling may be accompanied by an infection. We will identify this as the eyes of our dog will normally become red, teary or present rheum. At AnimalWised we give you the key to learning how to detect conjunctivitis in your dog and know how to treat it.


  1. Causes of canine conjunctivitis
  2. Symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs
  3. Dogs that are more prone to conjunctivitis
  4. Treatment and prevention

Causes of canine conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis in your dog may be due to a specific problem that only affects the eye or a larger issue that presents the conjunctivitis as a symptom of the underlying disease.

  1. When we talk about a specific problem that only affects the eye we refer to allergies, a foreign body that may have damaged them while playing in the park (like a plant), dry eye, when it has anatomical issues (malformed eyelids, ulcers , eyelashes...) or other infections that directly affect the eye.
  2. However, conjunctivitis in dogs may also appear due to other diseases that are more serious, such as distemper or hepatitis.

Whatever the cause of this problem that is annoying our dog it will be easy for us to detect as it will be quite shocking to see our dog with its red eye or more tears than normal. Therefore, faced with any symptoms the first step is to go to a vet to diagnose the cause and appropriate treatment.

It is logical to think that if it is only unwell in one eye that something must have happened to that eye specifically. If our dog has been playing in shrubs and bushes then it is likely that its eye followed its nose into something and in all probability this will be the cause of the conjunctivitis. However, if both eyes are affected there is a greater chance that our dog is suffering from other problems.

Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes and Symptoms - Causes of canine conjunctivitis

Symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs

In order to identify canine conjunctivitis it is imperative to know the symptoms that your dog will present, the following being the most common:

  • Difficulty opening the affected eye. Remember that this condition, if not due to another underlying disease, usually appears first in one eye. In addition, it can also develop redness in the eyes.
  • Discomfort in light. Observe whether your dog tries to take refuge in the darker parts of the house.
  • Excessive tearing. In most cases the overly weepy eye is accompanied by an annoying itch, so your dog will scratch frequently. If so, it is essential that you stop them scratching as it could produce internal injuries with their nails.
  • Yellowish or greenish purulent secretion. This symptom appears in the more serious cases of conjunctivitis or in dogs that develop this condition because of another underlying disease, such as the already mentioned distemper.

If it presents any of these symptoms you must take them to the vet.

Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes and Symptoms - Symptoms of conjunctivitis in dogs

Dogs that are more prone to conjunctivitis

There are breeds of dogs that for hereditary reasons are more likely than others to have inflammation in the eye. Due to congenital issues the Poodleand Cocker Spaniel breeds are prone to conjunctivitis and its prevention can only be carried out with an early test. Furthermore, if our dog is of one of these breeds it will require more specific eye care throughout its life.

Other than the hereditary breeds, due to the structure of their skull the Pug and Pekingese are more exposed to the elements of bad weather and in general all the elements that they interact with through life. For example, when sniffing things it is more likely that foreign bodies penetrate the eyes and cause the appearance of conjunctivitis. Therefore we must also take greater care with their eyes and consult our veterinarian regarding how to clean them daily.

Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes and Symptoms - Dogs that are more prone to conjunctivitis

Treatment and prevention

To prevent eye infections or inflammation it is important to maintain good ocular hygiene, that your dog has a good diet that strengthens all its organs and, if it has hair that limits its vision, that this be removed to prevent accumulated dirt in the fur to enter the eyes.

If conjunctivitis occurs in your dog you can treat it by wiping its eyes with saline solution several times a day, that will always be helpful. However, depending on the cause you may have to administer other topical treatments that can only be prescribed by a veterinarian. Generally topical antibiotics are used to reduce conjunctival inflammation. The frequency of administration will also be mark by the specialist depending on the severity of conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes and Symptoms - Treatment and prevention

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes and Symptoms, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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Conjunctivitis in Dogs - Causes and Symptoms