Dog eye infections are common, and pet parents should know what to do if their pet develops this problem. You might wonder what causes eye infections in dogs. How can you help your pet at home, and when should you see a veterinarian?

Key Takeaways:

  • Dog eye infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies, trauma, or foreign bodies.
  • Symptoms of dog eye infections include redness, swelling, discharge, and excessive tearing.
  • Treatment options include medications prescribed by a veterinarian, and home remedies should not replace professional care. Prevention measures can help reduce the risk of dog eye infections.

What Is a Dog Eye Infection?

An eye infection in dogs refers to inflammation caused by bacteria or viruses. Symptoms include redness, swelling, excessive tears, abnormal discharge, itchiness, and pain. Different types of dog eye infections need specific treatments. Most conditions require veterinary attention, and some need further investigation to find the underlying cause. 

Types of Dog Eye Infections

There are various types of dog eye infections. These include canine conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis, viral eye infections, bacterial eye infections, and fungal eye infections. Here is a breakdown of all the four types:

Canine conjunctivitis

Canine conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the lining that protects the eye globe and eyelids. While it can develop from bacterial and viral infections, conjunctivitis refers to inflammation and irritation rather than the cause. Conjunctivitis can be secondary to another problem affecting the eye. 

Allergic conjunctivitis

An allergic reaction to environmental substances, such as pollen or grasses can trigger this type of eye problem. The eyes may be pinkish, accompanied by sneezing and tearing or other discharge from the eyes.

Viral eye infections

Your dog could suffer from viral diseases like distemper or canine herpesvirus.

Bacterial eye infections

Bacterial eye infections usually cause a sticky green/yellow eye discharge, which can spread to the other eye and other dogs. Common environmental bacteria can infect the eyes, and some diseases can manifest as eye infections. Bacteria can also penetrate the eye through injury or trauma.

Fungal eye infections

Fungi from the environment can affect a dog's eyes, leading to inflammation. 

Causes of Dog Eye Infections

Here are some common causes of dog eye infections:

  • Bacteria and viruses from the environment and other pets.
  • Allergies to environmental substances like pollen, dust mites, or mold.
  • Trauma or injury, for example, if your dog accidentally scratched their eyes, something poked them such as a stick, or the eyes were in contact with chemicals (like certain shampoos), may lead to infection.
  • Foreign bodies like a speck of dirt, bits of metal, or tiny pieces of glass and wood can damage the eyes’ surface and lead to a bacterial infection.
  • Non-infectious conditions, such as cataracts, uveitis, and glaucoma may look like an eye infection.

Signs & Symptoms of Dog Eye Infections

What does a dog eye infection look like? Here are dog eye infection symptoms and signs to look for:

  • Inflammation and redness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Blinking 
  • Itchiness; pawing at the eye or rubbing on the ground
  • Abnormal eye discharge

Treatment Options for Dog Eye Infections

Your veterinarian may prescribe topical and oral medications for your pup’s eye infection, such as: 

  • Antibiotics to stop the infection
  • Topical treatments, such as steroid or antibiotic eyedrop
  • Antiviral medications for virus-related infections
  • Antifungal medications in the form of tablets and syrups
  • Allergy Management and antihistamines for allergy symptoms
  • Eye drops to stimulate tear production for dry eyes

If you want to try a home remedy for your dog’s eye infection, gently clear the eyes of discharge using gentle touch and a warm moist towel. Sometimes applying a warm compress to help relieve itching or pain can help. This is only a temporary measure and can’t replace veterinary care.

Prevention and Management of Dog Eye Infections

Most eye infections require medical help, but there are ways to avoid them. Here are some tips for preventing dog eye infections.

  • When bathing your dog, only clean the eye area with tearless products (such as certain puppy shampoos).
  • With your veterinarian’s help, study what triggers allergy symptoms in your dog and minimize exposure.
  • Isolate a sick pet from others to avoid transmission of bacteria and viruses, and disinfect the areas where they usually roam.

How Long Do Dog Eye Infections Take to Heal?

Recovery of a dog's eye infection depends on the type and severity and the dog's overall health status. Allergic conjunctivitis may continue until the cause is removed or resolved. Eye infections caused by viruses or bacteria may take longer to clear, and there is a risk of progressing to more severe conditions such as uveitis or corneal ulcers if not treated appropriately.

When Are Dog Eye Infections Serious?

Dog eye infection is serious if your dog has pain, excessive discharge, can't open their eyes, has no energy, or has a fever. In these cases, your dog should see a veterinarian immediately.

Diagnosis of Dog Eye Infections

As part of the diagnostic process for dog eye infections, your veterinarian may:

  • Conduct a thorough physical examination of your pet. This includes the outer parts of the eyes, such as the cornea, eyelids, and tear ducts as well as using an ophthalmoscope to look inside the eye.
  • Look at your dog's medical history to trace any recurring issues, especially allergies.
  • Order tests, such as imagingblood tests, and bacterial cultures, to determine the infection’s cause.
  • Apply a special stain to the eye to check for corneal damage.


Dog eye infections are common, and as pet parents, it is vital that you know the signs to get your dog appropriate medical care. It is crucial to get eye conditions assessed and treated promptly. Our experts will ensure your furry friend receives the correct diagnosis and best treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dog eye infections contagious?

Eye infections caused by bacteria and viruses can be contagious. Allergies are not contagious.

Can a dog's eye infection heal on its own?

A veterinarian should treat eye infections. Untreated eye infections may lead to more serious problems and blindness.

How long will it take for my dog's eye infection to go away?

Depending on the type and cause, dog eye infections can take a week to a month to go away once treatment has been initiated.

Can dog eye infections spread to humans?

Yes and no. Some bacterial infections could be transmitted to humans, so washing your hands before and after contact with your dog's infected eye is essential. 

Should I take my dog to the ER for an eye infection?

If the eye infection is severe or your dog is clearly in pain, you should take them to a veterinary hospital's emergency clinic or ER. Otherwise, make an appointment with your veterinarian.