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December 10, 2020

Dog Eye Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention


Dog Eye Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, & Prevention

Key Points

  • The main signs of a dog eye infection include green or yellow eye discharge, eye redness, and scratching at the eye.
  • Any eye issue in a dog should be promptly examined by a veterinarian because eye infections in dogs can quickly get worse without treatment.
  • This article will discuss what dog eye infection medicines may be used for a dog eye infection and how to apply those medications.

Dog Eye Infection Symptoms

How do you know if your dog has an eye infection?


One of the main symptoms of dog eye infections is green discharge. In addition, the eyes may appear red. It is challenging to diagnose a dog eye infection solely based on symptoms alone as many of the symptoms of dog eye infections overlap with other more dangerous eye conditions including eye ulcers, dry eye, and glaucoma. 


It is important to visit your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms because this may indicate an eye infection or a more serious eye condition:

  • Green or yellow eye discharge
  • Eye redness
  • Squinting
  • Itchy eye
  • Pawing at the eye

Common Causes of Dog Eye Infections

Dog eye infections are typically caused by bacteria or viruses. They can also be caused by a variety of other issues including fungal infections and foreign debris in the eye. Your veterinarian will likely run a few different tests to diagnose the eye infection. They will want to stain the eye to make sure there are no scratches present and check the tear production to make sure the eye is not too dry. Your vet may also want to check the pressures of the eye to ensure your dog does not have a condition called glaucomahigh pressure of the eye that can quickly lead to blindness.


Can a dog eye infection spread to humans?

It would be unlikely for a dog to spread an eye infection to a human. Most causes of dog eye infections are limited to dogs. To be safe, if your dog has eye issues, be sure to wash your hands well after touching your dog near the eyes or applying eye medications to the eye.

Treatments for Eye Discharge in Dogs

The treatment for eye discharge in dogs depends on the cause of the eye discharge. If the eye discharge is caused by a dog eye infection, then your veterinarian will prescribe dog eye infection drops which are essentially topical eye antibiotics specially formulated for use in dogs. Some of the most common antibiotics prescribed by veterinarians include tobramycin ophthalmic, triple antibiotic ophthalmic ointment (this is not the same thing as neosporin), or ofloxacin ophthalmic. Within a few days, your dog’s eye should be improving drastically.


You may be wondering how to treat a dog eye infection at home. Unfortunately, there are no safe or effective home treatments available for dog eye infections. Do not use apple cider vinegar for dog eye infection or any other home remedies for dog eye infections described on the internet. Substances like vinegar can be extremely harmful if applied to the eye and can cause severe damage to the eyes. I do not recommend putting any substance into your dog’s eye unless you first speak with your veterinarian to make sure it is safe to go in the eyes.

Steps for Applying Your Dog’s Eye Medication 

Once your veterinarian has prescribed your dog eye medication, you will have to learn how to apply the medication to the eye. This job is much easier with two peopleone person to hold the dog and another to apply the medication. If you are doing it by yourself, to apply dog eye infection medicine like an eye antibiotic, follow the steps described below.

  1. Wash your hands well.
  2. Hold the jaw and head gently with one hand using this hand to also hold open the lower eyelid.
  3. Place your other hand with the medication bottle just above your dog’s eye. Use this hand to hold open the upper eyelid.
  4. Place the directed number of drops into the eye. If using an ointment, place a ⅛ to ¼ inch strip of medication in the eye. Don’t touch the eye with the eye medication bottle.
  5. Give your pup a special tasty treat or a new bouncy fish toy for a job well done. 

What can I do if my dog has an eye infection?

First and foremost, contact your veterinarian. If you are noticing symptoms of an eye infection, this could indicate your dog has an eye infection or something more serious. Some eye conditions can lead to permanent blindness if not treated promptly by a veterinarian. Even if you think your dog just has an eye infection, you may risk missing a more serious issue if you wait too long to see your vet. I have seen some dogs with glaucoma go permanently blind within 24 hours because owners delayed getting their dog seen for eye symptoms.

When should I take my dog to the vet for an eye infection?

You should call your vet now if you think your dog has an eye infection. Your pet should be seen promptly. Most veterinarians will make an effort to examine eye cases within the same day of an owner calling because of the risk of other serious eye issues. The good news is that the vet cost for dog eye infections is not usually extremely pricey. Your vet may want to run a few tests, but overall, the cost of the appointment will likely range from $100-300 depending on what your veterinarian recommends.

Can a dog’s eye infection go away on its own?

No, a dog eye infection will not go away on its own. You must get veterinary prescribed dog eye antibiotics to treat a dog eye infection.

Preventing Eye Problems in Dogs

Unfortunately, there are not many good ways to prevent eye infections in dogs. The AKC suggests having a groomer keep the hair trimmed around the eyes so the fur doesn’t mat around the eyes. Many dogs will get eye infections from visiting dog parks or doggy daycare, so one way to prevent eye infections may be to visit these places less often. In addition to eye infections, dogs can also develop kennel cough from being around other dogs. If you are interested in learning more about preventing kennel cough, visit this article on the Bordetella vaccine.


Also, consider reading more about Alpha Paw’s Vision Chews.


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