How to Treat Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Conjunctivitis, known to some as pink eye, is a common condition that affects dogs (but also humans). It occurs when the thin, transparent tissue that covers the inner surface of the eyelid and the eyeball (conjunctiva), gets inflamed. 

There are a few types of conjunctivitis, so it’s important to diagnose it accurately. With proper treatment, conjunctivitis in dogs is easily cured. 

What Is Dog Conjunctivitis?

Dog conjunctivitis, also known as canine pink eye, is a condition in which the conjunctiva, the thin and transparent layer of tissue that covers the inner surface of the eyelids and the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. 

The most common signs of this inflammation in dogs are redness, swelling, mucus from the eye, and excessive tearing. Dogs with conjunctivitis will probably rub or paw their eye or show sensitivity to light.

If you notice any of these signs on your dog, it’s probably the best idea to visit the vet and begin with dog conjunctivitis treatment right away. 

There Are Different Types of Dog Conjunctivitis

Several things can cause dog conjunctivitis, including bacterial or viral infections, allergies, irritations, or foreign objects in a dog’s eye. Sometimes, conjunctivitis is a sign of a deeper problem, like dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, or a problem with the immune system.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Primary bacterial conjunctivitis doesn’t happen very often in dogs, and it doesn’t matter what breed, age, or gender they are. Secondary bacterial infection is more common, and canines usually get it due to an underlying health issue. Those conditions could be chronic dry eye, corneal ulceration, or eyelid abnormalities. Typical bacteria causing this type of conjunctivitis are Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, which are easily passed on to other dogs.

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis can affect any breed of dog if they come into contact with viruses that cause inflammation in the eye membranes. The viruses that cause this illness are contagious, and it can take up to three to four weeks for the symptoms to go away. Canine distemper virus and canine herpesvirus are two examples of viruses that can cause this type of conjunctivitis in dogs.

Allergic conjunctivitis

Even though it can happen to any breed, allergic conjunctivitis is more common in dogs that are prone to atopic dermatitis. It usually happens to young dogs, but it can develop at any age. Some things that can cause allergic conjunctivitis are food allergens, shampoos, perfumes, molds, mites, pollen, and a genetic tendency to have allergies (atopy). 

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Dog Conjunctivitis

Red and swollen eyes are a sign of conjunctivitis in dogs, which is often followed by itching, burning, and even pain. If your dog is affected by this condition, you will notice that it will try to rub its face on rugs or with its paws and blink or squint excessively. 

Often, there is white, yellow, or greenish mucus from the affected eye. Most of the time, green or yellow discharge means you have a bacterial infection, while clear or white discharge means you have an allergy. 

Usually, both eyes will be affected unless the inflammation is due to trauma, eyelid abnormalities, blocked tear, ducts, or a tumor.

When diagnosing dog conjunctivitis, the aim is to discover what is causing it and how much harm it has already done to your dog. That’s why a veterinarian will complete the dog’s physical and eye (ophthalmic) examinations. 

Besides this, your vet may suggest additional testing like allergy testing, bacterial culture testing, viral testing, ultrasound of the eyeballs, or conjunctival scraping and biopsy. Examinations like these are performed only when needed; your vet will explain them in detail.

How to Treat Conjunctivitis in Dogs?

Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on its cause, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Consult a veterinarian: It is best to get a proper diagnosis before you give any treatment to your dog on your own. The vet should give you expert advice and appropriate treatment.
  • Clean the dog’s eye: Clean your puppy’s eyes with warm water or a sterile saline solution to remove the discharge.
  • Give your dog the proper medication: Your vet will prescribe eye drops, ointment, or oral medication depending on the type of conjunctivitis. Follow the instructions about the dosage and the overall treatment plan.
  • Provide care: Keep your dog in a comfortable and clean environment, and don’t expose them to anything that can irritate their eyes, like smoke or perfumes. 
  • Do regular check-ups: Follow up with your vet to monitor your dog’s progress and adjust the treatment if needed. 
  • Prevent recurrence: Even after your dog is cured of conjunctivitis, the condition can return. Therefore, take measures to prevent its recurrence by avoiding allergens, cleaning its eyes regularly, and maintaining overall health through a nutritious and balanced diet.  

Can Dog Conjunctivitis Be Prevented?

You can prevent your dog from getting conjunctivitis by maintaining general hygiene and cleaning its eyes with a clean damp cloth. 

Avoid elements that could irritate dogs’ eyes, like smoke, dust, or chemicals. Speaking of which, use only pet-safe cleaning products in your home and avoid perfumes. 

If you take care of your dog’s overall health, bring it to routine appointments with the vet, and be up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations to prevent illnesses. In that way, you are also keeping your pet from getting conjunctivitis. 

Another important thing to note is that some types of dog conjunctivitis are contagious, so try to avoid contact with infected dogs if you already know they may have this condition.

How Long Does the Recovery Last?

Depending on the cause, recovery from dog conjunctivitis can take a different amount of time. 

With the proper treatment, bacterial conjunctivitis can be cured in about seven days, while a viral type of this condition could be treated for up to three weeks. When it comes to allergic conjunctivitis, the problem will last as long as the allergen isn’t eliminated from the dog’s environment, and regular veterinary care will be necessary. 

However, there are some cases where conjunctivitis occurs chronically and needs lifelong treatment, meaning controlling allergies or treating immune-mediated diseases. 

Still, most dogs have great chances of recovering from conjunctivitis fast, while good care and regular veterinary check-ups will keep them healthy.  

Related Post: Dog Eye Problems | Eight Most Common Eye Problems of Dogs In 2023

Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson is an expert in dog behavior with over a decade of experience, and she is also passionate about working with cats and birds. In addition to contributing pet content to, she is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Brenda received her Bachelor of Science in Biological and Biomedical Sciences & Philosophy from Colorado College in 2014. She has taken classes in writing and remote animal behavior consulting, as well as courses on how to manage aggressive dogs and litter box issues. In 2016, she obtained her dog behavior consulting certification and joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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One Comment

  1. I just read this article about treating conjunctivitis in dogs, and I found it really helpful.

    As a dog owner, it’s always concerning when our furry friends aren’t feeling their best, especially when it comes to issues with their eyes. I appreciated the explanations about the causes and symptoms of conjunctivitis, as well as the different treatment options available.

    I appreciated the tips on how to prevent conjunctivitis in the first place, like keeping our dogs’ eyes clean and free from irritants. It’s always better to be proactive when it comes to our dogs’ health!

    Personally, my dog has had some eye issues in the past, and I remember feeling so worried and unsure about how to help him. This article would have been a great resource for me at the time.

    Overall, I think this article is a great guide for any dog owner who is dealing with or wants to prevent conjunctivitis in their furry friend. Thanks for sharing this helpful information! 🐶

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