dog eye infection home remedies

Dog Eye Infection Home Remedies: A Guide to Symptoms and Treatments

Dogs occasionally suffer from eye infections and other eye-related problems. Many of the most common problems, such as pink eye, cataracts and glaucoma, also afflict people. This means that there are well-established treatment strategies for many dog eye infections and other eye-related problems in dogs.

And while most true infections will require veterinary treatment, there are a few dog eye infection home remedies that may provide your dog some relief and help prevent future problems.

General Symptoms of Dog Eye Infections and Other Eye Problems

Fortunately, most eye problems in dogs have rather obvious symptoms, so they aren’t very likely to go unnoticed. Some of the most common symptoms associated with dog eye infections and other ocular problems include:

  • Redness
  • Inflammation or Swelling
  • Eye Wiping
  • Closed Eye
  • Discharge
  • Squinting and Blinking

Some of these symptoms can occur for very brief periods before resolving on their own. For example, your dog’s eyes may redden for a few hours after walking through a smog- or smoke-filled area, before clearing back up in short order. Accordingly, you can usually wait for a day or so to see if these symptoms resolve before visiting your veterinarian.

However, if any of these symptoms persist or your dog appears to be in pain, you’ll want to head over to the vet sooner than later.

Common Types of Dog Eye Infections (and Other Eye Problems)

Not all eye problems are created equally, and there are a variety of problems that can cause problems for your dog’s eyes. Some of the most common issues include:

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Just like your school-aged child, dogs often suffer from the condition colloquially known as pink eye. Technically, pink eye is an infection of the conjunctiva – a thin membrane covering the sclera and inner eyelids. Conjunctivitis causes the white of the eye (the sclera) to appear reddened and inflamed. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses or environmental irritants, such as smoke or dust.

Corneal Inflammation

The cornea is the transparent membrane that covers the iris and pupil. It can become inflamed or infected by a variety of environmental triggers, bacteria, fungi or viruses. If the infection goes untreated, ulcers can develop.

Cataracts

Dogs suffering from cataracts exhibit an increasing opacity of the eye, which will eventually cause them to lose vision in the afflicted eye(s). While surgery can correct the problem, many dogs who develop cataracts are able to maintain a high quality of life without it.

Uveitis

The uvea is a pigmented area of the eye, found beneath the sclera and cornea. It is comprised of three different parts of the eye: the choroid, ciliary body and iris. Uveitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria and other pathogens, but it is also caused by trauma and underlying systemic inflammatory conditions. Some cases of uveitis are persistent and ongoing, while others tend to come and go in cyclical fashion.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that occurs when the pressure inside the eyeball becomes elevated. The condition occurs because the eye is unable to properly drain for a variety of reasons. Without treatment, glaucoma will eventually damage the optic nerve at the back of the eye, and lead to blindness.

Entropion

Occasionally, dogs can suffer from eye problems when one of their eyelids folds inward. This condition is called entropion, and it results in irritation, drying of the eyes and discomfort. The disease is most common in dogs who have a predisposition to the condition, which includes both brachycephalic (short-faced) and giant breeds.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye occurs when the gland associated with your dog’s nictitating membrane (the third eyelid, sometimes visible near the inner corner of the eye) pops out. The degree to which the gland pops out (prolapses) varies from case to case; sometimes, the bright red tissue only protrudes slightly over the eye, but at other times it can cover a significant portion of the eye. Cherry eye is most common among brachycephalic breeds, and it must usually be treated surgically.

Tear Duct Problems

Dogs can suffer from a variety of different problems relating to their tear glands and ducts. The ducts can become clogged or they can produce too much fluid. Some dogs may even be born with malformed ducts. Each of these problems will require your vet’s help to diagnose and treat. Excessive tear production can even lead to fur staining in some animals.

eye-infection-dog

Veterinary Treatment for Dog Eye Infections

Your vet will likely begin treating your dog by trying to identify your dog’s eye ailment. He or she will ask you about your dog’s general health, as well as the details surrounding your dog’s eye problem. For example, your vet will want to know when the problem started, whether or not a trauma was involved and if your dog's eye infection symptoms have changed over time.

  • Your vet will then inspect your dog’s eye carefully. He or she will probably inspect it with the naked eye at first before giving it a closer look with an ophthalmoscope.
  • If a corneal ulcer is suspected, your vet may apply a substance called fluorescein to your dog’s cornea, which can help reveal the presence of ulcers or other damaged spots on the cornea.
  • If your vet is concerned that your dog’s tear ducts are not operating correctly, he or she may use reactive testing strips (called the Schirmer Tear Test) to investigate the amount of tear fluid being produced.
  • If glaucoma is a possibility, your vet may use a device called a tonometer to measure the pressure inside your dog’s eyeball.
  • If your vet needs to examine the retina, optic nerve or other parts located on the back of the eye, it may be necessary to administer medication that will cause your dog’s pupils to dilate, thereby allowing your vet to visualize these structures.
  • If a bacterial or fungal infection is suspected, your vet will likely obtain cultures, so that the causal agent can be identified and treated with the most appropriate medication.

Once your vet has determined the nature of your dog’s eye problem, he or she will present you with options for treatment.

Some dog eye infections respond best to topical medications, while others will require systemic medications to treat the underlying issue. Surgery may be the only way to address some problems, such as cherry eye or glaucoma.

What About Dog Eye Infection Home Remedies?

There aren’t any foolproof home treatments for most dog eye infections. Home remedies for dog eye infections can, at best, complement your vet’s recommended treatment. Veterinary care is simply necessary for most eye infections.

Some owners are inclined to use over-the-counter antibiotics (such as terramycin ophthalmic ointment), colloidal silver (which is considered dangerous by the National Institutes of Health), boric acid washes or herbal treatments. But none of these approaches are a very good idea – at least without first consulting your veterinarian (who will certainly recommend you come in for an evaluation first).

Antibiotics are only effective for treating bacterial infections, and you won’t know that bacteria is responsible for your dog’s eye problems without seeing your vet first.

For that matter, you won’t know if the bacteria in question is even susceptible to the antibiotic without having your vet take cultures and conduct sensitivity tests. The improper use of antibiotics can lead to problems with drug resistance, so most antibiotics should only be used in conjunction with a vet’s guidance.

While it is possible that some herbal remedies, such as rosemary, may provide legitimate medicinal value, few have been empirically studied - particularly as it relates to eye problems in dogs.  

Additionally, some herbal remedies can cause troubling side effects. You’ll want to discuss the use of any of these herbal products with your vet before using them on your dog, so once again, you’ll find it necessary to solicit veterinary assistance.

However, a common dog eye discharge home remedy is the use of a little saline eye wash to help flush your dog's eyes and keep them moist while waiting to go to the vet.  

This may even solve the issue entirely, if your dog’s eye irritation was just caused by dust or other debris that found its way into your dog’s eye.

It is important to inspect your dog’s eyes on a periodic basis, so that you can spot problems early. You’ll also want to be sure to keep the fur around your dog’s eyes trimmed, so that it does not cause irritation.

dog eye infections

Has your dog ever suffered from an eye infection or some other problem? How did your vet treat it? Was the treatment successful? We’d love to hear about any home remedies for dog eye infections that you have found helpful in the comments below.

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