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Dog Conjunctivitis (Canine Pink Eye)

Signs and Symptoms

For most dog owners, seeing their beloved canine in any kind of distress or discomfort is an unsettling experience. When a dog gets sick, it can't communicate to us exactly what's wrong, so it is up to the pet owner to pay close attention to the different behaviors and symptoms of the sick animal. One of the more common afflictions to strike dogs is Conjunctivitis, otherwise known as Dog Pinkeye. Much like the name indicates, this condition can be easily recognized by the pronounced pink color of the afflicted dog's eye. The eye will take on the appearance of being severely bloodshot or irritated. While minor irritations and debris in the eye can often cause a similar symptom, Pinkeye tends to last for several days to a week or more.

Along with the pronounced pink color in the eyeball, the surrounding tissue, such as the eyelid and other nearby areas, will become swollen or inflamed. The severity of inflammation varies with each case, ranging from a minor swelling to highly inflamed membranes, which can cause the eye to be swollen shut. In addition to the swelling, the infected eye will often begin to emit a distinctive discharge. While some eye discharge is actually quite normal in most dogs, with Canine Conjunctivitis the discharge will be far more pronounced, often mixed with pus. This fluid can build up around the eye, impeding your dog’s ability to blink or open its eye normally.


In order to diagnose a case of Pinkeye, it is important to keep a close watch on your dog's behavior. As foreign objects in the eye can cause irritation that resembles the symptoms of Pinkeye, simply observing eye color is not enough. You do not want to treat your dog with medication for Pinkeye when it has merely been scratching an itch, or experiencing minor irritation from a stray eyelash.

Canines respond to a case of Conjunctivitis in quite distinctive ways, and the condition can radically alter your pet's regular routine. If your dog is accustomed to playing outside during the daylight hours, and is usually alert and inquisitive, you will likely notice that it now prefers to remain in dark or poorly lit areas. The afflicted animal may begin to sleep more often during the day. This is largely because the infected eye becomes increasingly sensitive to light, making regular daylight activity a painful experience.

Since Pinkeye can cause severe itching as a result of the inflammation of the eye, you may notice your dog behaving rather strangely, for example; rubbing its face against the edge of furniture or on the floor. It may also use its paw, repeatedly attempting to wipe away discharge or scratch the itch. While this strange rubbing behavior may initially appear comical, it is rather serious, and if you notice your dog displaying these signs, you need to act accordingly. A dog collar is an excellent way of isolating the afflicted area, preventing the animal from rubbing the eye excessively and causing further damage.

Another way to diagnose Pinkeye is by paying attention to the amount of tears that your dog produces. While it is normal for a dog to tear in response to light, dust and other common occurrences, Pinkeye will provoke a massive increase in the amount of fluid produced by your animal's tear ducts. This is because the eye is utilizing its self-cleaning mechanism, trying to flush out the afflicted area.

Finally, if your dog appears to be showing signs of pain and does not have any other outward signs of injury or distress, it's always a good idea to take a closer look at the eyes. Wincing or whimpering may be a sign that your dog has Pinkeye.


Conjunctivitis is an infection that affects the eyes and membranes of many mammals, including both humans and dogs. The specific area that the infection acts upon is the conjunctiva, which is a fairly loose membrane that surrounds the eyeball, holding it in place and shielding it. This membrane also extends into the eyelid. This tissue is connected at a number of different points to the eyeball, and is integral in the maintenance and wellbeing of the whole ocular system. In fact, one of the primary responsibilities of the conjunctiva is ensuring that the eyeball remains properly lubricated at all times, through the distribution of tears and moisture.

When your dog becomes infected with a case of Conjunctivitis, it means that the mucous membranes that surround the eyeball have experienced a build up of harmful agents, most likely viral or bacterial. In fact, there are different kinds of pinkeye, which can be caused by different invading agents, and will result in symptoms of varying severity. Once a sufficient build up of these invading agents has occurred, the natural function of the eye's membranes will be disrupted. This means that tear ducts and other specialized cells responsible for creating moisture will no longer function properly, and the eye will become dry and scratchy. Without proper lubrication, each blink is a painful undertaking, and in some severe cases, blinking may cause significant damage to the eye.

Although Conjunctivitis is a fairly common infection that usually does not lead to anything serious, if left untreated it can progress into a potentially life-threatening illness. Dogs that already suffer from a weakened immune system, either as a result of injury or other illness, are much more prone to developing a protracted, more harmful case of Conjunctivitis. One of the dangerous symptoms of a case of dog pinkeye that has progressed for too long is a perforated cornea. The infection can spread from the membranes surrounding the eyeball to the eyeball itself, where it can corrode the tissue and lead to small holes or perforations. This process of perforation can lead to your dog having difficulty with its vision, and in some extreme cases has been known to cause blindness.

Another potential side effect of Conjunctivitis is scarring of the sensitive membrane tissue. If left untreated, this kind of scarred and malformed tissue development can cause further problems with ingrown eyelashes and improper functioning of the eyelid. This kind of chronic condition is very painful and irritating for the dog.


Canine Conjunctivitis or Dog Pinkeye comes in a number of different forms, and can be caused by a number of different factors. One of the most common causes is an irritant in the eye, which leads to inflammation and eventually infection. This can be anything from dirt to a piece of wood to a small insect. Damage to the eye can often result from a scuffle your dog as been in with another animal, leading to the development of pinkeye in many cases.

Aside from foreign bodies, Conjunctivitis is caused by either viral or bacterial infections. The bacterial variety is the most common form of this infection, and is typically spread by contact. This can mean contact with humans who are carrying the disease, other dogs, or even flying insects. The viral kind of Pinkeye is transmitted in much the same way. Some of the viruses that cause Pinkeye are airborne, and little can be done to protect against them. This kind of infection is much more common during the winter, when viruses tend to proliferate due to the humidity and dampness of the air. Another potential cause is an allergic reaction. Your dog may be sensitive to certain kinds of perfume, foods, or other allergens associated with the onset of spring. These allergens can cause sinus irritation as well as inflammation of the mucus membranes, and often leads to the development of Pinkeye.

Dog Pink Eye Treatment

In order to properly treat your dog's case of pinkeye, it is important to closely assess the condition of the eye first. If a foreign object appears to be lodged somewhere in or around the eyeball or other nearby mucous membranes, flush the area with a large quantity of lukewarm water. Make sure that the water is only slightly warm, so as to avoid causing any damage to the eyeball. You may also want to use a soft cloth to wipe the area around your dog's eye, cleaning away excess discharge and being sure to remove any dirt or foreign materials. Avoid excessive wiping, as this may also lead to complications. If you see something that looks like it has been stuck in the eye area, call your veterinarian, and do not try to take the object out of the dog's eye yourself.

Since Conjunctivitis is an infection that strikes the eye, one of the most delicate and sensitive areas of the body for dogs and humans alike, the best way to treat the problem is with a natural, herbal remedy. offers a number of different herbal supplements that are extremely effective in combating infections and inflammations of various kinds. Perhaps the best option is a product called Eye Easy for Dogs. This liquid remedy comes in a small bottle with a built-in applicator, making it easy to squeeze a few drops into your dog's eye. Eye Easy is composed of a variety of different herbal compounds. Ingredients include chamomile, which acts to reduce inflammation and swelling around the eye, and can also lessen associated pain and itching and allow your dog to relax and get some much-needed rest. Eyebright is another herb that is effective in fighting bacteria, and also acts to reduce swelling. Finally, a mixture of goldenseal and rosemary combines to work against inflammation and reduce your dog's susceptibility to further problems. 1.Soak a washcloth in lukewarm water. Wring the washcloth out and gently wipe any discharge away from your dog's eye. 2.Look for and remove any foreign objects in your dog's eye. 3.Flush your dog's eye with lukewarm water or artificial tears for humans that have no preservatives. This is especially important if you were unable to see any foreign objects in your dog's eye. 4.Put a compress on your dog's eye. This can be a clean washcloth that has been soaked in lukewarm water and wrung out, then folded into a square. Hold the compress gently to your dog's eye--don't apply pressure. Be sure to use a different compress for each eye so you don't spread the infection. 5.Repeat Steps 1, 3 and 4 as necessary until your dog's pink eye goes away.

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