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Healthy Dogs

Conjunctivitis in Dogs

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Treatment: Any underlying cause of conjunctivitis should be corrected. Dogs with recurrent or persistent conjunctivitis should be tested for keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Serous conjunctivitis can be treated at home. Flush the eye three or four times a day with an over-the-counter sterile saline eyewash or artificial tears. Notify your veterinarian if the eye appears to be getting worse.

Mild cases of follicular conjunctivitis respond to antibiotic and corticosteroid eye ointments prescribed by your veterinarian. In resistant cases, the follicles may need to be destroyed by chemical cauterization.

Purulent conjunctivitis requires veterinary examination and treatment. It is important to remove mucus and pus from the eyes, as well as pus and crusts that adhere to the eyelids. Moisten a cotton ball with sterile eyewash and gently cleanse the eye. Warm, moist packs may help loosen crusts. Repeat as necessary and apply topical antibiotics as prescribed by your veterinarian (see How to Apply Eye Medicines, page 174). Continue topical antibiotics for several days beyond apparent cure.

Note that corticosteroids and eye medications containing corticosteroids should not be used in dogs with purulent conjunctivitis because they impair the local inflammatory response that fights infection. Bacterial culture and sensitivity tests are indicated if the conjunctivitis does not improve.

Neonatal Conjunctivitis

The eyes of newborn puppies open at 10 to 14 days of age. Infection behind the eyelids, called neonatal conjunctivitis, can occur before or after the eyelids separate. This form of conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria that gain access to the space behind the eyelids during or shortly after birth.

There is a condition called ankyloblepharonin which the eyelids do not open as widely as they should. This predisposes a puppy to neonatal conjunctivitis. Neonatal conjunctivitis may affect several puppies in the same litter.

Suspect this problem if the eyelids appear swollen and/or the eyelids bulge. A purulent discharge may be present if the infection occurs when the eyes are beginning to open. The discharge may cause the eyelids to stick together.

Treatment: Notify your veterinarian immediately if you suspect neonatal conjunctivitis. Delay in treatment can lead to corneal damage and blindness.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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