Fact checked

How Do I Treat A Dog Eye Infection?

Dog Care
6 minutes read
When dogs have medical issues, such as an eye infection, oftentimes they can be treated at home. However, there can be a variety of different ways, all which depend on your pup.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

Whether you have an indoor or outdoor dog, or even an emotional support animal, it can be susceptible to many diseases, including eye infections. There are several reasons why your dog might develop an eye infection. And while this might be scary for any pet owner, these infections are treatable with quick action and proper care.

As with any disease or infection, it is best to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible before attempting at-home care.

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dog eye infection

What Causes Eye Infection in Dogs?

The cause of eye infections in dogs differs in various cases. There are many different causes, and they can vary depending on your breed, size, whether they are an outdoor or inside dog, and what other animals they are around.

  • Fungus
  • Bacteria such as leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and canine brucellosis.
  • Viruses include canine influenza, hepatitis, canine distemper virus, and herpes.
  • Parasites
  • An injury to the cornea
  • Irritants such as chemicals and smoke.
  • Foreign bodies in the eye, such as plant material, fur, and debris.
  • Eye abnormalities predispose your dog to infections, such as eyelid tumors, an abnormal tear in the eye's film, and inward/outward turning eyelids.

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What Are the Signs of a Dog Eye Infection?

There are many ways your ESA dog will alert you that it potentially has an eye infection. It is essential to note that many of these signs do not appear independently but together. Visiting your veterinarian with your dog's ESA letter is necessary if you observe any of the following symptoms:

Discharge From the Eyes

Excessive discharge from the eyes is one of the most apparent signs of an eye infection in a dog. However, not all discharge is the same, and the specific discharge can give better insight into what type of infection it is.

Thick and purulent yellowish-green discharge is usually a sign of a bacterial infection, while clear discharge could indicate a viral infection. 

Pawing at Their Eyes

As eye infections are often painful or very itchy, a dog suffering from it will often paw at its eyes and even drag its face across furniture and floors. Although dogs do this to get relief, this behavior further damages the dog's eyes. 

To prevent this, your veterinarian may prescribe a cone for your emotional support animal to wear while the infection is treated.

Squinting

Squinting and increased eye blinking is usually caused by an infected eye's pain and irritation.

Redness and Swelling

If your dog has an eye infection, its eyes may be more crimson or pink than usual, and the eyelid may be inflamed. Typically, eye infections cause the tissue surrounding the eye to swell, making the eyelid appear droopy or swollen.

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Styes

A dog's eye stye is a painful, red lump that develops on the inner edge of the eyelid. It is transmitted to the eye by Staphylococcal bacteria, often found in the nasal passages. This bacterium is transmitted by scratching the nose and touching the eye area, resulting in an infection of the gland located at the end of the eyelid.

Typically, staphylococcal bacteria generate pus-filled abscesses, and the infection manifests as a small spot or pimple. Styes are not detrimental to your dog's eyesight or eyes. 

However, your dog will experience pain and tenderness in the eye region, as well as inflammation or redness. In some dogs, the entire eye swells, whereas in others, only the infected area does. The dogs also tend to have watery eyes and blurry vision.

Styes usually fade after a few days; the infection subsides, and the pimple either pops or vanishes. Fortunately, there are various strategies you can employ to minimize inflammation.

Apply a hot compress to the affected area four times each day for 10 to 15 minutes. This will alleviate the pain, expel the head, and stimulate the stye to rupture. Your dog may not allow or like the hot compress, so ensure it is not too hot and it is comfortable heat. Also, when applying pressure, use caution not to hurt your dog's eye further.

Tips:

  • If the styes are frequent and do not disappear, consult a veterinarian. They may need to drain the infected area. The procedure is not too severe but will require a qualified doctor.
  • A chalazion on a dog’s eye is often mistaken for a stye, but it appears as a hard, round pimple on the eyelid due to blocked oil glands. Although they can last a few months, they are usually harmless. 
  • Remember not to pop or drain the stye or chalazion on your own. It can lead to further complications and may result in more pain for your dog.

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How to Treat Dog Eye Infection

The treatment the veterinarian prescribes for your dog will depend on the cause of the infection. Your vet may recommend an ointment or eyedrops to ease the itchiness, treat the underlying condition and promote healing.

The vet may also prescribe oral medication and injections to combat infections deeper in the eye. There are some ways to provide loving care at home to help aid in your dog's recovery so it can quickly return to the best of health. 

  • Keep the area around the eye clean - Dampen a soft, clean towel with warm water, and gently clean off any discharge build-up around your dog's eyes. Please do not use any chemicals or touch their eyes. Contact your vet if the discharge is not easily removable or if there is debris in the dog's eye.
  • Use a cone - A dog cone gives the prescribed treatment a chance to work, as your dog won't be able to cause any more damage to the eye. We recommend discussing alternatives with your vet if your dog has trouble adjusting to the cone.
  • Eyedrops - If the vet has prescribed eyedrops for your emotional support animal, gently tilt your dog's head back, and squeeze the drops to the upper part of the eye with your hand resting on the dog's head.
  • Ointment - To apply the cream, pull down your dog's lower lid and create a pocket for the medication. Rest your hand on the dog's head, and squeeze the ointment into the eye. Open and close the eye gently to spread the cream evenly.

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Keeping Your Dog's Eyes Healthy

Your dog's eyesight is priceless, and you can avoid eye infections with the appropriate care. If your ESA dog has long hair, you should first clip the hair around its eyes to prevent irritation. Hold blunt-tip scissors parallel to your dog's eyes and wait until they are still and calm before you start trimming.

You must also routinely clean your dog's eyes with a warm cloth. Wipe the area around the eye gently and avoid wiping the eye itself. Routine eye care is the key to a happy and healthy pup. Also, be sure to take note of any changes to your pup's eye and schedule an appointment with your vet if you notice any alarming changes.

Visit Pettable's blog for more information on pet care, ESA certification, and other valuable resources.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.