Just like people, dogs can get eye infections and inflammation. Your dog’s eyes can become infected by bacteria or viruses, or inflamed by irritants. It’s important to first work with your veterinarian to determine the cause of your dog’s eye infection. Then they can determine if there might be another underlying condition that allowed your dog’s eyes to get infected in the first place.
Ensuring proper treatment and care for your dog’s eye infection – and any underlying conditions – is important for maintaining your dog’s comfort and their eye health.
Dog eye infection symptoms can vary depending on what’s causing the infection, how long it’s been going on for, any additional conditions affecting the eye(s), and a host of other factors. You may see several of the signs listed above, or just one. The signs may get worse or even appear to resolve as the infection progresses, and you may see symptoms in one or both eyes.
Conjunctivitis, the inflammation of the conjunctival tissues that surround and cover many of the visible parts of the eyeball (as well as the undersides of the eyelids), is a common cause of a “red eye” appearance for dogs. There are many reasons dogs can develop conjunctivitis and red eyes, with infections being just one of the possibilities.
Whether or not your dog’s conjunctivitis may be contagious to other dogs depends on what’s causing it. If their conjunctivitis is caused by allergies, irritants, dry eye, or most of the other common causes, it shouldn’t be contagious. Even bacterial eye infections in dogs aren’t typically thought to be contagious. However, certain viral infections that can cause conjunctivitis (including canine distemper and canine herpes) can be quite contagious to other dogs.
It’s always a good idea to wash your hands well after petting or treating your dog’s red eyes, before petting your other pets, and before touching your own eyes, nose, or mouth.
Treatment for eye infections in dogs depends on the cause. It’s essential to visit your veterinarian to determine the cause and begin appropriate treatment. Your vet may prescribe eye drops and/or ointment to treat the infection, promote healing, ease any discomfort or itchiness, and possibly treat the underlying condition.
If an injury occurred to the eye, pain medication may be prescribed. If their eye infection is deeper within the eye, certain oral medications and/or injections may also be prescribed.
If your dog has an eye infection, you can do some things at home to improve their comfort level.
There are some types of human eye drops that may be safe to use with dogs, like artificial tear drops or ointment. However, always consult with your veterinarian before doing so. Using something on your dog’s eyes without the advice of your veterinarian could make your dog’s eye issues worse, prolong or worsen their pain, and even cause severe reactions.