What Causes Conjunctivitis In Dogs


What Causes Conjunctivitis In Dogs

Canine Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is defined as inflammation of the inner lining of the eyelids and the tissue surrounding the eyeball.


Symptoms Of Conjunctivitis:

Symptoms associated with conjunctivitis are

  • discharges from one or both eyes,
  • rubbing at the eyes, and
  • squinting.

Causes Of Conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis has many causes. In many cases, conjunctivitis may simply be the result of irritation to the tissue, perhaps as a result of dust or other foreign objects getting in the eye.

Allergies are another very frequent cause of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis may be the sole symptom in this case or may be accompanied by other signs such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing or itching.

In cats, conjunctivitis is frequently seen associated with upper respiratory infections  Conjunctivitis may be the first symptom seen, followed quickly by other respiratory signs such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fever or lack of appetite.

Corneal ulcers (scratches or abrasions on the front part of the eyeball) can also cause pain for your dog, resulting in conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis may also be the result of physical abnormalities of the eyelids. These causes often are hereditary or congenital, but sometimes do not appear until later in life. The inflammation most commonly is a result of physical trauma to the eye as a result of the condition, either directly or indirectly. When not properly corrected, the problem continues to recur–possibly leading to blindness.


What Causes Conjunctivitis In Dogs

The following conditions are physical defects that can cause conjunctivitis.

  • Distichiasis:

A condition in which an extra row of eyelashes is present along the inner edge of the eyelid. These extra eyelashes rub against the eye causing serious discomfort, inflammation, and infection. One of several surgical techniques is required to remove this extra row of eyelashes.

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  • Trichiasis:

A condition in which one or more eyelashes grow inward toward the eye instead of out in the proper direction. These eyelashes also strike the eye causing pain, inflammation, and infection. Surgical removal of these eyelashes is required to solve the problem.

  • Ectropion:

An abnormality in which the eyelid is rolled outward, often forming a small pouch in the eyelid instead of being tight and straight across the eye. This increases the eye’s exposure to the foreign material, such as dust and dirt. Obviously, this can easily cause trauma and damage to the eye. Surgery is required to remove this pouch.

  • Entropion:

A condition in which the eyelid is rolled inward toward the eye allowing the eyelashes to rub against the eye. This condition can be very painful, causing your dog to scratch and rub the eye–often causing further damage. This condition results in discomfort, irritation, inflammation, infection, and possibly loss of vision. It is corrected with surgery by properly aligning the eyelid so that it does not roll inward toward the eye.


Diagnosis Of Conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis is diagnosed by physical exam. Your dog’s doctor will examine the eye itself to rule out physical abnormalities, corneal ulcers, and foreign objects.

Your dog’s overall physical condition must also be evaluated in the event of allergic responses or upper respiratory problems.


Treatment Of Conjunctivitis:

Treatment will vary depending on the individual situation and the cause of the disease.

Conjunctivitis resulting from physical abnormalities of the eyelids will require correction of the underlying abnormality, which often requires surgical repair.

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Conjunctivitis resulting from allergies will require treatment of the allergy itself, although eye ointments or drops are frequently used to relieve the ocular discomfort.

Conjunctivitis resulting from upper respiratory infections in cats will involve treating the respiratory infection, although eye ointments or drops are often used in conjunction with the treatment.

Conjunctivitis resulting from foreign objects irritating the conjunctiva of the eye will involve removal of the foreign object, if still present.

Corneal ulcers will require different types of treatment than other forms of conjunctivitis. Often eye ointments or drops are used to prevent or control infection and keep the pupil of the eye open to prevent adhesions. Cortisone products, which are frequently used to control the inflammation present with conjunctivitis, are contra-indicated if corneal ulcers are present as these products can slow the healing of the wound or even cause further deterioration of the corneal tissue. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to create a protective covering over the eye or to debride and repair the corneal injury.

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