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Can Dogs get Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)? What to Know

Pink eye is the inflammation of the conjunctiva a tissue that lines the eye and eyelids. It is scientifically known as Conjunctivitis. Although common in humans, dogs can also get pink eye. It typically causes itchy red inflamed eyes.

Your dog can get pink eye from various elements. While it mostly occur to one eye, there is potential of spreading to the other eye. Symptoms include eye redness, puffy eyelids watery eyes, stringy discharge and eyelids sticking together.

There is need to take your pet to a veterinarian after noticing early symptoms. There are different types of conjunctivitis caused by different elements and hence each requires specific treatment. Allergic, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can be treated.

What are the symptoms of pink eye in dogs?

can dogs get pink eye
pink eye in dogs

The following are signs to watch:

  • Discharge: Clear watery or mucous discharge that is yellowish or green is produced by the eye.
  • Squinting: This is excessive blinking due to the eye feeling irritated.
  • Red swollen eyelids: The eyelids gets puffy and swollen especially after waking up.
  • Eyelids sticking together: This is caused by production of sticky discharge within the eye.
  • Pawing at eye: The eyes feel irritated and urge to scratch
  • Crustiness: Inflammation and scratching can cause crusty scab around the eye
  • Can affect one or both eyes depending on the causes
  • Pink eye in dogs can also associate other symptoms such as nasal discharge, sneezing a lot or coughing.

What Causes pink eye in dogs

There are various reasons for your dog’s pink eye:

  1. Viral conjunctivitis can mainly be caused by cold, upper respiratory infection or sore throat. It is considered contagious since it can spread easily. It usually lasts upto 3 weeks.
  2. Bacterial infections such as strep or staph infection. It is highly contagious and therefore need to treatment.
  3. Allergy and environmental irritants such as pollen, dust, scratching and more
  4. Related eye problems such as dry eye, tumors and inflammation of the tear duct among others
  5. Defect of the eyelashes or eyelids (abnormal)

How to Diagnose Pink eye in Dogs

To get accurate results on what your dog is suffering from, a veterinary has to perform tests and diagnosis. Since pink eye in dogs can be caused by secondary symptoms such as dry eye or trauma, a vet has to get into details to know the real cause.

Physical examination of the dog’s eye and its surroundings can give a clue on why your dog is having a pink eye. If the vet is not satisfied he or she may also try test tear production using Schirmer tear strips, check for any injury using lens or test the eye pressure.

A vet may also find it necessary to do a bacterial culture, allergy test and even biopsy. Microscopic examination of the eye cells can also be done to help in providing a diagnosis. You should also not prescribe a medication for your pet without knowledge of a vet. Always take your pooch for regular eye checkups to ensure everything goes well.

You should not try to diagnose a dog on your own especially if you are not a veterinarian.

How to Treat Pink eye in dogs

Upon finding out that your pooch has pink eye, a visit to a veterinarian will help in determining the type of conjunctivitis and how to treat appropriately. Every treatment depends on the causes:

Bacterial Conjunctivitis Treatment

Pink eye in dogs caused by a bacterial infection is best treated topical eye drops prescribed by a vet. They usually contain antibiotics, steroids and tear stimulants. They are therefore suitable for fighting bacterial infection, reduce inflammation and stimulate tear to lubricate the affected eye surface.

Sometimes it is not easy to administer an eye drop to your dog. You may need someone to help you and also be careful. Here are steps on how to give your dog an eye drop:

  1. Approach your canine friend calmly and try to sooth her before you or your assistant hold her.
  2. Clean your hands and place your medication ready. Get a soft towel and wipe any discharge from her eye.
  3. Gently lift the dog’s head with one hand while the other hand holding the medication.
  4. Squeeze a little amount as recommended by the vet into the inner part of the lower eyelid and gently massage around the eyelid with your hand to help in spreading the medication.
  5. Give your pet something to enjoy as a reward.

Viral Conjunctivitis Treatment

Steroid eye drops, artificial tears and cold compress are the commonly method of treating pink eye in dogs caused by a viral infection. Discharge or crusting should be removed before giving a steroid medication. Cold compress helps in relieving the inflammation and soothing the eye.

Soak a clean towel in lukewarm water and wipe away the build-up. Follow by holding a cold compress on your pet’s eye.

Allergies Treatment

Pink eye caused by allergens can be treated by antihistamines, steroid eye drops, artificial tears or by use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by a vet. Cold compress and cleaning around the affected area can also promote faster healing.


Eyelid or eyelash deformation such as distichiasis or entropion can be treated by a surgical procedure. Injuries or damage to the cornea should be examined by a vet for appropriate medication.

How to Prevent Pink Eye in Dog

You can minimize cases of dog conjunctivitis in a number of ways:

  1. Keep your dog away from allergens such as dust, pollen, smoke, perfumes and mold among others. This is best done when you understand what your dog is allergic to.
  2. The dog should be well groomed especially areas around the eyes. This helps in preventing hairs from getting into her eye and causing irritation.
  3. Ensure your canine friend is vaccinated when necessary and that can help preventing some viral infections.
  4. Keep the dog’s sleeping areas and playing places sterile. This can help killing bacteria and preventing it from spreading.
  5. Boost the immune system of your pet by ensuring a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals.


Pink eye is contagious especially when caused by bacterial or a virus. It can easily spread to others. Allergic and irritant conjunctivitis are not contagious. Consult or take your pet to a veterinarian as soon you see the symptoms.

Additional Resources:

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) in Dogs: petmd.com

Can Dogs Get Pink Eye? Aspcapetinsurance.com

How is Pink Eye in Dogs Treated: akc.org

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