Conjunctivitis in Dogs (eye problems)

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Yours dog’s eyes should normally be clear, bright, and free of discharge. Red eyes in a dog can signal problems requiring treatment from eye drops to emergency surgery. Conjunctivitis is the most common eye problem in dogs and is defined as an inflammation of the white membranes lining the inside of the eyelids. It leads to red, swollen, itchy, watery eyes. Being able to recognize the signs of an eye problem or injury are the best ways to prevent permanent eye damage and insure visual integrity.

SYMPTOMS
* Red eyes.
* Mucousy or watery eye discharge.
* Thick yellowish-green eye discharge.
* Swollen eyes.
* Pawing and/or rubbing eyes.

CAUSES

1. Allergies are a major cause of conjunctivitis in dogs. Dogs overly sensitive to pollen, dust and mold often rub and paw at their eyes continuously.
2. Bacteria commonly causes conjunctivitis along with a thick yellowish-green eye discharge.
3. Unvaccinated puppies with distemper virus usually get conjunctivitis.
4. Inherited Eye Diseases involving the eyelids and eyelashes irritate the eye and may result in conjunctivitis.
      a. Entropion is a condition in which the eyelids roll inward which causes the eyelashes to contact the surface of the eye. This condition usually involves both eyes and is quite painful. In addition to conjunctivitis, partial or complete loss of vision can result if left untreated. Squinting and tearing are the most common signs. Surgical correction involves removal of a narrow strip of skin and muscle from the eyelid. Stitches are then used to evert the eyelid so that it lies in a normal position. The Sharpei, English Bulldog and Chow Chow are the breeds most prone.
     b. Eyelash Disease is a group of conditions in which eyelashes or hairs injure the eye.

* Trichiasis is a condition in which normal hairs lie on and irritate the eye. This is common in Pekingese. The long hairs on their face and in the folds of their nose irritate the eyes and cause conjunctivitis. Prevention requires regular trimming of these hairs.

* Ectopic Cilia are abnormal hairs found on the inside of the eyelid. These are quite painful. Surgical freezing is necessary to remove these offensive hairs.
* Distichiasis occurs when an eyelash occurs at an abnormal position along the eye or eyelid which irritates the eye.

WARNING

In addition to eyelid and eyelash disease, cataracts and diseases of the retina are also inherited. They can easily go undetected until quite advanced. Most are quite painful and blindness is not an uncommon consequence. A Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) examination is an eye exam that can only be performed by a certified veterinary eye specialist. It is used to detect inherited eye diseases and can be given at a young age. Responsible breeders should not breed any dog or cat who fails a CERF Exam. Potential owners should ask whether or not the parents received and passed the CERF Exam. Neutering or spaying animals with these hereditary conditions insures that the problem will not be passed on to future generations.

COMPLEMENTARY TREATMENTS

HERBAL REMEDIES

For red, itchy eyes, use raspberry leaf tea as an eyewash, or put a drop of cod liver oil in the affected eye three to four times a day. Two to three drops of raw cucumber juice applied 3 to 4 times a day also helps soothe irritated, red eyes.

HERBAL CONJUNCTIVITIS EYEWASH
Mix one cup of Rosemary with ½ cup of Thyme. Add four cups of water and boil for 15 minutes. Strain and cool. Use a cotton ball soaked in the solution to bathe the eyes and clean secretions every four to six hours or as needed.

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