Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a common mucous membrane infection that allergies can trigger, foreign body irritation, viral infections, tumors in the eye region, breed-specific environments, tear film deficiency, abnormalities of the eye, obstructed tear ducts, viral diseases, eye injury, or an underlying eye condition. An in-depth understanding of the condition will help you care for your dog or cat.
Categories of Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is classified into two categories, infectious and non-infectious. Infectious conjunctivitis develops when the conjunctiva is infected with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Non-infectious conjunctivitis occurs when a foreign substance, such as dust, sand, chemicals, or allergies becomes trapped behind the eyelid and is known to cause a subsequent bacterial infection.
Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
The most common symptoms of conjunctivitis are excessive watering, cloudy discharge, reddened eye rims, sensitivity to sunlight, discomfort/squinting or a visible third eyelid. Conjunctivitis typically begins in one eye and soon spreads to the other through exposure, but in situations where allergies or viral infection are the cause, both eyes may be afflicted from the onset.
Treatment of Conjunctivitis
Your dog’s treatment will depend on the cause of conjunctivitis. If the problem is a foreign body or some other type of irritant, then this will need to be removed. When an irritant is present in your dog’s living environment, you’ll need to ensure your dog isn’t exposed to this allergen.
In cases where bacterial infection is causing your dog's conjunctivitis, antibiotics and eye drops are typical dog pink eye products. Topical ointments, solutions and medications containing anti-inflammatory agents, phagocytic vitamins, steroids, and other drugs may be prescribed. Dogs diagnosed with keratoconjunctivitis sicca will usually require medications to stimulate tear production, and those with eyelid or eyelash abnormalities will require surgical correction.
If allergies are the suspected cause, an antihistamine will help make your dog's eyes more comfortable. If there is a foreign body irritating your dog's eye, your vet will remove it while your dog is under sedation or local anesthetic. A warm, moist washcloth may also be used to reduce pain and wipe the infected eye.
In most cases of conjunctivitis, most cats and dogs have a satisfactory recovery. Severe, chronic, or recurring conjunctivitis may have a grim outlook depending on the exact diagnosis. Conditions like keratoconjunctivitis sicca and immune-mediated illnesses may necessitate lifelong treatment. If your cat or dog has conjunctivitis, even if the symptoms are mild, call your veterinarian as soon as possible, as it can cause irreversible eye damage if left untreated.