Dogs often have allergies that affect their eyes. The reaction may be to dust, dry weather, pollens, carpet cleaners, lawn treatments, food, insect bites and immune system problems. In dogs the reaction almost always results in conjunctivitis. The conjunctiva is the inside lining of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis in dogs and humans is often called "pink eye" because of the red or pink swelling of the eye area. The eyes may also have a clear discharge.
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Put a collar and leash on your dog for control. If you have any concerns about your dog's response to putting in drops, you should muzzle your dog. Because the eyes may be sore, take a warm wet cloth and gently soak the outer eye and remove any drainage first. Use separate cloths on each eye to prevent cross-contamination. Read the eye drop bottle instructions for number of drops and frequency.
Place leash in one hand, and also use that hand under your dog's jaw to hold its head in position. Hold the bottle or eyedropper in your other hand. Tilt your dog's head up. Use thumb and index fingers to hold the bottle or dropper while using the other fingers to hold the eye open. Squeeze in the drops; then let go of your dog's head. When your dog is finished shaking its head, remove collar and muzzle and give your dog a treat.
It is safe to try home treatment first with natural saline drops to flush the allergens from the eyes. Use enough saline to cause the fluid to freely run out of the dogs eyes. Repeat flushing the eyes once immediately and then every four hours. If no improvement is seen within 48 hours or the condition worsens, take your dog to the veterinarian as a prescription eye-drop medication may be necessary.
Although dog eye allergies may seem similar to humans, it is important that you not use human products on your dog to avoid complications. Antihistamine eye drops are generally used first to relieve allergy eyes unless the inflammation is severe. Although these drops often provide quick relief it is necessary to stop what is causing the problem or the condition will keep returning.
If your dog's eyes are very inflamed, your vet may prescribe drops that contain steroids. Long-term steroid use in the eyes can cause damage, so do not use longer or more than you are instructed to use them.
If the discharge is yellow or pus-looking, your dog has an infection, not allergies and needs to see a veterinarian immediately. Chronic redness may be disease or a genetic condition, such as eyelid malformation. The eyelids can turn inward causing them to continually rub on the eye causing pain and corneal abrasion. Always get eye problems checked by a vet as eye ruptures are not uncommon with dogs.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.