Dogs can get an eye infection just like us. You might be wondering what the difference is between an eye allergy and an eye infection. We will discuss both and how to identify each one.
Eye allergies and infections develop when your dog's eyes come in contact with an allergen, irritant, bacteria, or a virus. Although it can be hard to know what is causing your dog to lick his paws so much, his chronic ear infections, eye allergies, and eye infections often cause worry and stress for dog owners.
My approach is straightforward: we will discuss how to differentiate both the causes and treatment.
Disclaimer: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. Never disregard professional advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this website!
What is the difference between eye allergy and eye infection?
Your dog came back from running in the yard, and you noticed just now that he has something in his eye, or maybe his eye looks swollen and more red than usual. Is it allergies? An infection? Is it worth a vet visit?
It can be tough to know whether allergies or an actual bacterial or virus infection.
Look at the discharge color.
The primary way to tell the difference between an eye allergy and an eye infection is the color of the eye discharge:
- Clear, translucent, watery: usually it's an eye allergy, although it can also be a viral infection.
- Cloudy, yellowish: it could be dry eye disease.
- Purulent or thick yellowish-green pus: it could be a bacterial infection.
Sensitivity to light and swelling
As you saw above, a clear discharge can mean an allergy. The next thing to look at is the following:
- Is your dog sensitive to light? If yes, then it could be an eye infection.
- Is there swelling in the eye region? If yes, then it could be an eye infection.
From these symptoms alone, you can start understanding how to spot each type:
- A clear, watery discharge and no sensitivity to light or swelling could mean an eye allergy.
- A clear, watery discharge with significant swelling could indicate an eye infection.
- A yellowish-green thick discharge with swelling could mean it's an eye infection.
Remember that the goal of this article is to inform of the differences and not diagnose your dog's eye issues. Always seek professional help from your veterinarian when your dog has an eye allergy or an eye infection.
Common symptoms of both allergies and infections
Most of the other symptoms are shared by both. Here is the list of symptoms:
- Pawing at the eye
Before looking at topical and oral medications, it's essential to understand the difference between them as very different factors cause them; hence, the treatment might be other.
For instance, bacterial eye infections will require a specific bacterial treatment prescribed by your vet. Viral infections might need something else. Your veterinarian is apt to diagnose which type of infection your dog has and how to treat it.
How do I know if my dog has an eye allergy?
It is hard to rule out that your dog's eye infection is not an infection and is an allergic reaction. However, if you notice that your dog's eye gets watery and red often after running in the yard, it may be a sign of allergies.
Remember that if your dog's eye discharge is not completely clear and watery, it could be an infection, especially if your dog's eye is swollen.
Causes of allergies
Allergies are challenging to diagnose since your dog could not be allergic to something and still react to it. People say "lactose intolerant" and not "allergic to dairy," for instance.
A significant cause of intolerance in dogs is food-related, and I always recommend starting there if your dog has any allergies.
Here are some of the most common environmental causes of eye allergies:
- Trees, grass, pollen
- Dust, dust mites, fleas
- Mold and mildew
- Colognes, perfumes, cigarette smoke, household cleaning products
- Medications: flea collars, flea treatment, insecticidal shampoo
- Certain fabrics and materials
- Dander, hair, and feathers
As you can see, there are many potential allergens, and all are difficult to eliminate. An alternative to looking for allergens is to boost your dog's immune system. A robust immune system is often enough to reduce allergy symptoms and sometimes eradicate them.
Best ways to strengthen your dog's immune system
I recommend these two easy ways to boost your dog's immune system and try to alleviate any allergy symptoms:
- Adding Omega-3s to your dog's diet. It can be through home cooking with salmon fillet or even supplements.
- Adding immune-boosting mushrooms to your dog's diet. Some studies even suggest they can help slow down cancer.
Causes and symptoms of dog eye Infection
You may be wondering what usually causes dog eye infections. Usually, it's either bacteria or a virus. Bacterial infections are far more common and are caused by tiny organisms that infect your dog's eyes. However, viruses can provide the perfect opportunity for bacteria to invade and grow because the local defenses of the eye are compromised.
Bacterial infection tends to occur following an injury such as a scratch or ulcer on the eye. Then, it gets infected with bacteria, and the eye is not strong enough to heal on its own. Unfortunately, it is sometimes impossible to spot the scratch or ulcer, but you will see the common eye infection symptoms such as squinting, redness, and swelling. In other words, your dog's eye infection is often a secondary infection from a primary trauma or injury.
Home remedies and treating dog eye infections at home
Home remedies are not typically enough against eye infections. However, they may help if all your dog has an allergic reaction. In this case, you may use natural saline eye drops:
- Apply the saline rinse to the point where the fluid runs freely from the eye.
- Re-apply every four hours.
- Consult a vet if the condition doesn't improve or worsens after 48 hours.
You should not use human eye drops or human medications when trying this home remedy at home on your dog, as your dog could have adverse reactions to human products.
What is dog conjunctivitis, and is it contagious?
Dog conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctival tissues that surround and cover many of the visible parts of the eyeball—conjunctivitis results in the redness of your dog's eyes.
Depending on what is causing it, it may or may not be contagious. For example, if it's allergy-related, it is not contagious. Even most eye infections are not contagious because bacteria cause them.
Viral conjunctivitis can be contagious to you and other dogs. Therefore, it's always good to wash your hands thoroughly after petting your dog and treating his eyes.
How can I prevent dog eye infections in my pup's eyes?
Preventing eye infections in dogs is difficult since there are many potential causes, including ones you have no control over, such as scratches in the eye region. However, here are two ways to help prevent eye infections:
- Trim the longer hairs around your dog's eyes if they are currently irritating.
- When hiking or in the woods, consider having your dog wear special dog goggles that protect the eyes from UV light, dust, and plant fibers.