Can People Get Conjunctivitis From Dogs?

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Conjunctivitis, often called pinkeye, may be the result of bacterial, fungal or viral infections, or may be caused by allergies. Frequently seen among children and dogs, bacterial conjunctivitis is highly contagious, spreading quickly from dogs to humans and vice versa. If your dog shows symptoms of conjunctivitis, seek veterinary treatment right away. Untreated bacterial infections can lead to diminished eyesight or blindness. Your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or drops.


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Symptoms of Conjunctivitis

A dog with bacterial conjunctivitis usually has a thick yellow or green mucous discharge from his eyes. His eyelids may swell, and may stick together with dried mucous. The whites of his eyes may appear pink or red because of fluid buildup in the tissues. Bacterial conjunctivitis is painful, causing your dog's eyes to itch and burn. Your dog likely will rub his eyes with his paws and against furniture and walls while trying to relieve the itching. Light sensitivity and pain may cause your pet to hold his eyes partially closed.


How Cross-Contamination Occurs

Bacterial conjunctivitis is transferred easily from dogs to humans. You may come into contact with the bacteria while petting and hugging your dog. You can pick it up when touching walls and furniture where your pet has rubbed his face. Even his paws are spreading contaminants as he walks across the floor if he's been rubbing his eyes. After touching a contaminated surface, you only need to touch your eyes to become infected.

Preventing Cross-Contamination


If your pet has bacterial conjunctivitis, keep his eyes clean, wiping them with a clean cloth that's dampened with warm water. Wash your hands frequently, always washing them after touching your dog. An Elizabethan collar will prevent him from rubbing against the furniture and walls, and from pawing at his eyes. Avoid touching your own eyes while your pet is infected with conjunctivitis.

Preventing Canine Conjunctivitis

While you can't always prevent bacterial conjunctivitis, there are ways to lessen the chances of your pet becoming infected. Don't let your dog hang his head out of vehicle windows. Foreign particles can get lodged in his eyes, causing an infection. If your dog has long hair around his eyes, keep it trimmed to prevent the hairs from getting into his eyes and possibly scratching them. When you're visiting dog parks or veterinary offices, avoid contact with other dogs who have sore, runny eyes.


By Karen Mihaylo

References Bacterial Conjunctivitis in Dogs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

About the Author
Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since 2009. She has been a professional dog groomer since 1982 and is certified in canine massage therapy. Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College.