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Red Eye in Dogs

By: Dr. Rhea Morgan

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Treatment

The goal of therapy is to decrease any inflammation present and to address the underlying cause. It is very important that the cause of the inflammation or infection be diagnosed, so that specific treatment can be started.

  • Anti-inflammatory medication. The are two basic classes of topical anti-inflammatory medications that may be used to treat red eyes: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and topical corticosteroids. These medications are not indicated when corneal ulcers are present, and must be chosen based on the underlying ocular condition.

    The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are agents similar in action to ibuprofen. They are beneficial in some forms of red eye and not in others. They are less potent than the topical corticosteroids.

    The topical corticosteroids are used most commonly for conjunctivitis, anterior uveitis and some forms of corneal inflammation. A number of these drugs exist and have varying degrees of potency.

  • Systemic anti-inflammatory medications. Occasionally systemic anti-inflammatory medications are used in conjunction with topical medications. These include antihistamines for the treatment of allergic conditions, oral NSAIDs to alleviate pain and inflammation inside the eye, and oral corticosteroids. The use of these products depends on the underlying cause of the red eye. It is important to note that systemic corticosteroids should not be used if infectious diseases, such as fungal infections, the tick borne diseases, and toxoplasmosis, are the source of the redness.

  • An Elizabethan collar may be applied to prevent rubbing or pawing at the eye.

  • A topical antibiotic may be administered to treat or prevent infection.

  • Lubricant eye drops or ointment are sometimes given to protect the surface of the eye or to treat dry eye conditions.

  • Swollen tissues may respond to warm, wet compresses.

  • Other treatments may be administered, depending upon the underlying cause.

    Home Care

    Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up is important and may include the following:

  • Administer prescribed medications as directed and alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet.

  • Ensure that your pet does not rub at the eye and cause more serious injury. If an Elizabethan collar is provided, have your pet wear it at all times.

  • Observe the eye closely. Signs that may indicate a worsening condition include more obvious redness, increased or altered discharge, pain or loss of vision. Blindness in just one eye may not be obvious because the animal may behave normally when only one eye is affected.

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