Can My Dog Get Pink Eye in Park Ridge, NJ?
It’s 6am and your cell phone alarm is ringing. You turn it off without looking and open your eyes. Well, eye. Something is really wrong, and your right eye is swollen shut. You stumble to the bathroom mirror and run a washcloth under warm water to help ease your affected eye open. As soon as you see it open, you know what it is. Pink eye. Probably from your niece who had it last week. You hear a little whine and look down to see your chihuahua gazing back up at you, wanting to go outside. As you let her out you wonder, can my dog get pink eye in Park Ridge, NJ?
It’s incredibly rare for dogs to get infectious conjunctivitis from humans, and as long as you practice good hygiene (washing hands before and after touching items or medications that will touch your eye) you shouldn’t worry about passing your infection on to your dog. However, canines can get pink eye or conjunctivitis from other sources.
Viral and bacterial infections for Dogs
Dogs can get conjunctivitis from viral and bacterial infections, just like humans can. Swelling, eye discharge (clear or yellow/green), squinting, and redness of the eyelids or sclera (the white part of the eye) can be signs of a viral or bacterial infection in dogs.
Eye infections are most common in puppies or dogs that are immunocompromised, as they are more susceptible to infections of all kinds. Fortunately, eye infections from bacteria or viruses are relatively rare in dogs.
Unfortunately, if your pup does get this type of infection, they can spread it to other dogs by sharing bedding or dishes, so they should have their own supplies at least until the infection is over. Bacterial infections may require antibiotics (either oral medications or eye ointment).
Viral infections are usually handled with supportive care (watching the infection closely and keeping the dog comfortable), though some times your vet may also prescribe anti-virals if they are worried about losing sight or the eye, or if the dog is showing other respiratory symptoms. If your dog is rubbing or scratching at the eye, an e-collar (the big lampshade-like cones) may be necessary to prevent them from scratching the cornea and causing more problems. Which leads us to another reason your dog may have conjunctivitis…
Corneal or eye abrasion Can Lead to Pink Eye for Dogs
A corneal or eye abrasion is when the surface of the eye is scratched. This can be from the pup themselves (scratching at an itchy or painful eye and their nails accidentally scratch the surface), from a fight with another animal, or from a trauma like an accident or being scratched by a branch while hiking.
While it is the surface of the actual eyeball that is affected by corneal abrasions, the surrounding eyelids can become swollen and pink, and the sclera can turn reddish from irritation. Tearing or eye discharge may be seen as well. If you know your dog had an eye trauma or if you see any of the above signs, notify your veterinarian.
A special fluorescent stain is needed to check for an abrasion, and medications to help heal and help with pain may be required. Again, an e-collar may be needed to keep your dog from making the abrasion worse.
Pink Eye in Dogs Can Be Caused Allergies or Irritants
Yes, allergies can cause eye redness and swollen eyelids just like in humans. Allergies can be to food or treats, to environmental factors (yes, dogs can even be allergic to things like wool!), or can be seasonal allergies to pollen, just like what humans get in the spring.
Different Types of Allergies for Dogs
Allergies should always be discussed with a veterinarian to find the root cause. Seasonal dog allergies may just require oral medications or injections for a few months. If the allergies are specifically irritating to your dog’s eyes, eye drops may be an option too.
Food allergies require a diet change and strict adherence to make sure your pup doesn’t eat something they’re allergic to.
Environmental allergies can be as easy as removing the irritant from your home (if you can) or may require longer-term medications. Irritants may be something as simple as having a little bit of dirt or other material in the eye. If you’ve ever had an eyelash fall into your eye, you know how irritating and sometimes painful this can be.
What to Do for Dog Pink Eye
By the time you notice the “pink eye” appearance in your dog, the irritant may have been a problem for a while, unfortunately. Tearing, rubbing, or scratching can be a sign of something in the eye. If your dog is willing and if you are able to, applying sterile saline to the affected eye can help.
Be sure not to poke the eye itself with the tip of the bottle and let a stream of the sterile solution run across the eye. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or if your dog is squirmy or especially painful, your vet can also help with this (and examine the eye for a scratch or trauma).
Some plants can be especially harmful and irritating, like the foxtail (a grass-like plant found in the Western United States). Some plant seeds and parts will embed in the eye (or any other body part) and actually burrow deeper into the tissue as the animal rubs at the eye.
A similar situation will also occur with things like porcupine quills (there was once a rescue cat with an extremely painful eye who needed the eye removed. At the time of surgery, it was found a porcupine quill had broken off in his eye and caused a lot of pain. He was perfectly happy and healthy after surgery!).
If you suspect your pup may have something in their eye, a vet needs to check them out for the best chance for saving their vision and the eye itself. (If the trauma is too bad and the vet recommends the eye be removed, your dog will do very well with only one eye. Many animals have this condition and, once recovered, act like nothing ever happened!)
Some dog breeds, like English bulldogs and Shar Peis, are predisposed to a condition called entropion. This is when the eyelid turns inward and the eyelashes rub against the surface of the eye, irritating it.
This will cause redness, swelling, eye discharge, and your dog will probably rub their face and eyes frequently. Entropion usually requires surgery to fix the underlying problem, but certain medications and eye ointments can keep your pup comfortable before surgery or if they are not surgical candidates.
Cherry eye is another problem that can be congenital. This is an irritation of the third eyelid which causes it to swell and turn red in the corner of the eye (so it looks like a little cherry is in the eye corner). Usually this (and entropion) is noticed when the dog is young and is taken care of quickly (cherry eye can also require surgery to fix).
Older dogs can still receive relief with surgery or other treatments, though if the problem was not taken care of for some time, more damage to the eye may have occurred.
Dry eye can lead to your dog’s pink eye
If dry eye sounds familiar, it may be because people can also have this condition. Medications can sometimes cause lower than normal tear production in dogs, and if the eye is not properly moisturized by tears it can get scratched or irritated. This will cause redness in the sclera, and sometimes swelling of the eyelids.
Some dogs (particularly smaller breeds) can be born with or have problems later in life with their tear ducts clogging. This may require your vet to flush the tear ducts to help tear production, and eye medications may be needed to make sure the eye doesn’t get too dry.
Get Help from Your Vet for Dog Pink Eye Problems in Park Ridge, NJ
Eye problems causing redness or swelling that lasts more than a few hours should be addressed by a veterinarian. For eye trauma or foreign bodies in the eye, the sooner your dog can be seen by a professional, the better chance they have for a good outcome.
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