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What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, occurs when the conjunctiva of the eye (the moist tissue that covers the front part of the eyeball and lines the eyelids) becomes inflamed. Breeds which tend to have allergies tend to most commonly experience conjunctivitis. Dogs who are allergic to environmental factors are primarily affected.

Dog Breeds Prone to Developing Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is found to occur in all breeds but is most commonly seen in dogs who experience allergies including:

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis

  • Frequent squinting
  • Redness of the eye
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Swelling of the eye

Causes of Conjunctivitis

There are several causes of ‘pinkeye’ or conjunctivitis.

  • Bacterial causes: Bacteria may enter the eyelids of young puppies prior to their eyes opening resulting in conjunctivitis
  • Reduced immune systems: allergies, inflammation of the eye due to plasma cells; lowered immune responses
  • Viral: Canine distemper virus
  • Diseases of the eyelid
  • Diseases of the eyelash
  • Irritation from dust particles
  • Glaucoma

Treating Conjunctivitis in Dogs

Your veterinarian will conduct an eye examination. Your veterinarian will often first want to rule out another condition, ulcerative keratitis. Your veterinarian will also ensure there are not any foreign materials in the eye causing the irritation. A test for glaucoma will be conducted by determining the pressure in the eye. If there is any discharge appearing, the discharge may be tested.

There are many causes of this condition and the treatment will be based on the cause. Most commonly, it is simply a bacterial infection which your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics for. If your veterinarian suspect allergies may be causing the irritation, a specialized diet will be recommended. In the cases where an obstruction is suspected, surgery may be required to remove the obstruction.

If you think your dog's eye is infected, but are mot convinced it's Conjunctivitis, consider checking out our guide to dog eye infections.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.