How to Reduce the Risk of Infection in Your Dog’s Eyes

It would be so interesting to see things through your dog’s eyes. You might see the back of your legs as they follow you around, a lot of close ups of the world as they go in for a sniff, and probably a lot of the back of their eyelids due to frequent naps. Maybe you’ll see some hair in their field of vision, or some squinting blinks caused by a sunny day.

Unfortunately, given how prevalent vision issues are for dogs, you might also experience some cloudy vision or eye troubles as well.

Many dogs can be prone to eye injury or infection depending on their breed, diet, or cleanliness, so it’s important to be able to identify symptoms of eye troubles. Avoiding injury can be done by identifying the causes of their eye troubles and being diligent about their overall eye health and safety.

Symptoms of Dog Eye Infections or Injuries

Canine with eye infection of red swollen eyes

Animals show pain or discomfort in a variety of ways, many of them being more subtle than others. However, it’s important to keep track of any unusual behavior in order to help remedy the problem. Untreated eye injuries or infections can lead to permanent vision issues, chronic pain, or even the loss of an eye.

Some Common Symptoms Include:

  • Excessive discharge: Goopy or crusty eyes, which can be a result of allergies, injury, or birth defect.
  • Frequent squinting: If a dog has difficulties keeping their eyes fully open, they could have an eye injury.
  • Scratching at the eye: Can be triggered by itchy eyes or an abrasion. Scratching can cause further irritation and infection, potentially leading to other complications in this list.
  • Watery eyes: Eyes often water to remove a foreign object or due to allergies.
  • Swollen eyes: Can be a symptom of an irritant or allergy. An infection, allergies, or even a bee sting could cause a dog’s eyes to swell.
  • Bloodshot eyes: If a dog’s eyes are red where they should be white, it could be a symptom of conditions ranging from mild (like allergies) to severe (like glaucoma, which can lead to permanent blindness).
  • Vision impairment: Could be due to cloudy vision, which can result from a wide range of conditions.

Some causes of eye injury include allergies, UV exposure, irritation, an abrasion, infection, genetic issues, or the presence of a foreign object in their eyes. Some symptoms are easier to treat than others, but many of them can be avoided altogether.

Avoiding Eye Injury

Boston terrier who is more likely to get eye infection with bulging eyes

One way to reduce the risk of eye infection is to avoid any eye injuries. There are many things that can injure your pup’s eyes and worsen their eye health. It’s hard to avoid some abrasions caused by small foreign objects entering their eye, such as an eyelash or dirt, but you can make sure you’re being watchful for symptoms in order to treat conditions before they get worse.

For instance, a eye irritation can lead a dog to scratching their eyes with their claws and grazing their cornea, causing potentially severe visual impairment. In addition to that, make sure to stop any fights with animals that can cause eye trauma, like chasing a squirrel or a cat or fighting with another dog.

Some breeds tend to have more issues with eye injury than others. Breeds like Boston terriers, pugs, and Shih Tzus are brachycephalic and have more prominent eyeballs. Their big, prominent eyes can be more susceptible to injury, ulcers, and cuts, so keep an eye on them so that sticks, plants, toys, or sharp corners don’t harm their eyes.

Keeping Their Eyes Clean

Canine getting his eyes cleaned

Infections can be caused by an injury becoming infected, or bacteria entering the eye. Conjuntivitis is a common eye problem in dogs which presents as redness and green or yellow discharge. You can prevent infections like these by working to keep their eyes clean. This means clearing any mucus or buildup around the eye, and even clearing their tear stains.

Dog breeds like poodles, cocker spaniels, and some terriers are prone to tear stains caused by excess tears in the lower eyelid. Though this might seem like a mere cosmetic issue, tear stains are common locations for bacteria buildup.

Cleaning up the hair around their eyes is other great way to help reduce the risk of infection. Not only can long hair in their eyes scratch their eyeball, the hair can also carry foreign objects that can harm the eye or increase their exposure to bacteria.

Trimming the hair in front of their eyes can help prevent some infections and injuries while also helping them see better.

Using Eye Protection

Canine wearing sunglasses for protection from the sun

Some situations call for eye protection. Though sunglasses for dogs often look adorable, they are also used to reduce their risk of injury causing an infection. If your pup is spending a lot of time outdoors, on the water, or in the snow, consider sunglasses to protect their eyes from the negative effects of too much UV exposure.

Sunglasses can also be used to keep their eyes from becoming injured by riding on a motorcycle or sticking their head out of the car window. While these activities can be fun, they increase the risk of particles entering their eye and can be extremely dangerous if you were to get into an accident.

When bathing your dog or using flea and tick treatments, be sure you’re using protective ointment, blocking their eyes, or utilizing some form of eye protection. Chemicals in soaps and insecticides can cause damage or infection in your dog’s eyes.

Feeding Them a Healthy Diet

Canine eating healthy food out of a dog bowl that says good dog

Believe it or not, our diet has a lot to do with many aspects of our health, not just our weight. For instance, many diet changes can help treat symptoms of GERD in humans and in dogs. Diet can also affect things like your dog’s coat, energy level, and skin. It should be no surprise that your dog’s diet can also affect their eye health.

Poor-quality food that is highly processed or high in fillers and carbs can cause crusty and runny eyes that can lead to bacteria buildup and infection. A quality food with important vitamins, meat, and vegetables can help with their eye health as well as their digestive tract, coat, energy, and skin.

Just remember that switching their food can be hard on their stomach, so it’s best to take a slow approach. Just as we should do when making any changes in our own diets, it can be helpful to gradually implement diet changes in order to be successful and pinpoint any potential reactions.

Starting with small changes, such as mixing their new food with the old food, will allow you to watch them to be sure they don’t have any allergic reactions to their new food, which can be harmful to their health as well. Just remember to stay consistent once you find a healthy food that works.

Final Thoughts

A dog’s eyes are big, sweet windows into their soul. They use them to sucker you into a belly rub or coax you into a game of fetch. Keeping those big beautiful eyes healthy is an important aspect of pet care as well. Keeping your dog’s eyes healthy can help them to feel more confident, independent, active, and friendly. Their vision is an important sense that they need to live the best life possible.

Pay attention to the symptoms of an eye infection and take steps to reduce their risk of eye problems. Though some dogs are prone to eye issues, they can have healthy eyes long into their golden years with proper care.

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