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Cat with conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) in dogs & cats

Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the thin, moist layer of tissue called the conjunctiva, which covers the white part of the eyeballs and lines the eyelids.

The condition is one of the most common eye conditions to affect cats and dogs and can happen at any age.

Causes

Conjunctivitis could be caused by an allergy, or it could be a sign of something more serious.

  • Allergies can cause conjunctivitis, though in these cases can’t be passed on to other animals.
  • Foreign bodies such as dust or an eyelash can sometime get in a dog or cat’s eyes.
  • Dry eye can also cause irritation to the conjunctiva.
  • Neonatal conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria, and affects puppies and kittens less than one month old.
  • Viruses such as canine distemper and feline or feline herpes virus.

Signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis

If you have noticed your pet frequently pawing at their eye, it could be to relieve the itching caused by conjunctivitis. Other signs to look out for include:

  • Discharge. This is one of the most common symptoms. It may be clear and watery, or it could be thick with mucus. Mucus is usually present if there is some sort of infection.
  • Redness and puffy eyelids. Your pet’s eye(s) may look sore and irritated.
  • Continual squinting and excessive blinking. These are further attempts to relieve the irritation.

If you observe any of these symptoms, it’s important that you take your pet to the vet.

Always talk to your vet to get to the root cause of your pet’s eye discharge, because some problems can result in blindness or loss of an eye if left untreated.

Diagnosis and treatment

An examination by a vet will help determine what has caused the conjunctivitis, and how severe it is. Because of the variety of causes, treatment varies widely.

Dogs and cats conjunctivities infographic