Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, is a condition where the tissues covering the front portion of the eyes and lining the eyelids become inflamed and itchy. Normally, the inflammation is only seen in one eye but it can also spread to both eyes.
While pinkeye can affect any dog, certain factors can make one more susceptible to developing the condition than others. In most cases, dogs with skin allergies and weakened immune systems, as well as short-nosed breeds, such as French bulldogs and Boston terriers, seem to be at a higher risk.
Why Do Dogs with Distemper Develop Pinkeye?
Dogs with Distemper often develop pinkeye since, along with causing gastrointestinal and neurological issues, the viral disease also causes respiratory problems. This includes sneezing, coughing, eye and nose discharge, and inflammation of the mucous membranes, including the ones surrounding the eyes.
Other Causes of Pinkeye
Aside from Distemper, pinkeye can develop secondary to cancer, eye-related birth defects, and eye diseases, such as glaucoma (too much pressure inside the eye), ulcerative keratitis (sores develop in the eye tissue), and anterior uveitis (inflammation in the center of the eye).
However, bacterial infections, dry eyes, eye trauma or irritation (due to foreign matter), and allergies are also linked to the occurrence of pinkeye in dogs.
What Are the Signs of Pinkeye?
In the early stages of pinkeye, you’ll notice your dog squinting, blinking, or pawing at their eyes more than usual. As the condition progresses, the affected eye will start to become red and moist or teary; discharge may also be present. As fluid builds up, the transparent tissue covering the eyes, as well as the skin lining the eyelids, will become inflamed.
How Is Pinkeye Diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will run a series of tests to confirm the cause of your dog’s pinkeye. A physical examination, blood test, and urinalysis will help determine whether it’s Distemper or another disease.
If the results come back negative, then it’s highly likely that the damage is limited to the eye area. To pinpoint which eye-related illness it is, your veterinarian will conduct a fluorescein stain test, where a staining solution is spread on the surface of the eye to make any scratches, sores, or foreign material easily visible under bright light.
If glaucoma is suspected, your veterinarian may use a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside your dog’s eyes. An eye pressure of 30 mmHg or higher normally means glaucoma is present.
In cases where there’s eye discharge, your veterinarian may collect a sample of it, as well as some eye tissue (biopsy), for microscopic examination and further laboratory evaluation of the contents.
How Is Pinkeye Treated?
Since a number of factors can trigger the development of pinkeye in dogs, treatment will vary on the determining cause. For instance, if it’s a sign of Distemper then your dog will need to be admitted and receive supportive care; if the culprit is a bacterial infection, then your veterinarian may simply prescribe an antibiotic eye ointment.
In cases where foreign material or a tumor is present, surgery may need to be done to remove it. Your veterinarian may also give you an anti-inflammatory medication to take home to reduce the swelling and help your dog recover faster.