Did you know just like us humans, our furbabies can get conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is the broad medical term for inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin membrane which covers the eyeballs and lines the eyelids. The conjunctiva is very important for lubricating and protecting your pet’s eyes and when inflamed, can be very irritating to your dog’s eyes.

Signs and symptoms:

  • The signs of conjunctivitis to look out for include:
  • Squinting or rapid blinking
  • Redness and swelling of the membranes of the eye
  • Discharge from the eye, ranging from clear fluids to yellow/green in colour
  • Weepy eyes
  • Pawing at eyes
  • Rubbing face on the ground

Figure 1 & 2 Source: https://www.cliniciansbrief.com/article/conjunctivitis-dogs

Example images of mild to severe conjunctivitis

The degree of conjunctivitis can vary quite greatly depending on the cause. Therefore, it is crucial to take your pet to see your vet as soon as you notice any of these signs. Treatment varies depending on the cause with some being more serious than others. For some conditions, any delay in treatment can even lead to permanent damage to your pet’s eyes.

What causes conjunctivitis?
There are many causes of conjunctivitis with some of the most common types being:

  1. Allergies: Caused by allergens in the environment that your pet may be sensitive to
  2. Infectious: Due to bacterial or viral infections
  3. Trauma: Due to physical injuries to the eye which may ulcerate the surface such as trapped foreign bodies under the eyelid
  4. Environmental irritation: Such as smoke or caustic chemicals

Some less common causes may include:

5. Diseases of the eyelid, eyelashes or glands of the eye such as a condition called ‘cherry eye’ where the dog’s third eyelid protrudes out!

Here at MyVet, all pets will have a thorough examination of your pet’s overall health followed by a focused eye exam. This may involve using special tools which help us examine inside the eye and/or special stains to determine if there has been damage to the surface of the eye.

In rare instances, if the condition is immediately threatening to your dog’s vision, we will recommend an emergency referral to a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist.

As there are numerous causes of this disease, treatment is tailored on a case by case basis. For example, if the vet determines a bacterial cause, your pet will likely be prescribed topical antibacterial eye ointment for you to apply at home as well as anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain.

It is very important to make sure that you consult with your veterinarian to determine what is the best treatment for your pet.

Is it contagious?
This is actually a question we get asked all the time at MyVet! Fortunately, only conjunctivitis due to specific infectious causes such as certain bacteria and viruses will be contagious. Similar to human conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis has the possibility of also spreading from animal to human. If you suspect your pet has conjunctivitis, it is best to keep them separated from other cats and dogs until they visit the vet. Also practicing good hand hygiene with thorough washes with soap and water after handling will help prevent spread to other animals and humans.

If you suspect your furbaby has conjunctivitis come in for a visit at My Vet Animal Hospital and have a chat with one of our vets!

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