Red eyes, what now? Conjunctivitis in dogs

dog with conjunctivitis being treated with drops dog with conjunctivitis being treated with drops


The famous puppy-dog eyes have already melted many a heart. But when their big round eyes suddenly turn bright red, it can be quite frightening. 

Conjunctivitis – what exactly does it mean?

Most of the time, the reason for this redness is conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a transparent mucous membrane that covers the inside of the eyelid and the front part of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is common in dogs, but unlike in humans, it is rarely contagious. 

Common causes are bacteria or virus infections. An allergy to certain substances such as pollen, dust mites or certain foods can also lead to conjunctivitis in dogs. In addition, external irritants such as smoke, dust or chemicals can irritate the conjunctiva. Foreign bodies that manage to make their way into the eye can also cause redness. A special form of conjunctivitis called follicular conjunctivitis affects young dogs. Here, an enlargement of the lymphoid follicles leads to redness.

Recognising conjunctivitis in dogs

The most obvious symptom is often a discharge that can be found in the inner corner of the eye. This is either transparent or has a greenish to yellow appearance. Eye redness is, of course, just as noticeable. Especially if you gently pull the lower lid down.Then you will have a good view of the conjunctiva and can see if it is red and inflamed. Sometimes animals will squint with one or both eyes. This is often a sign they are in pain. If these symptoms are present, veterinary help should be sought as soon as possible.

When should you see the vet? How do you treat it?

If you notice conjunctivitis in your pet, you should go straight to your trusted vet. Since conjunctivitis can be caused by so many different things, it is first necessary to find out what exactly has caused the inflammation. Then the treatment method can be decided. Treatment for conjunctivitis varies greatly, depending on the underlying trigger. 

Medication such as antibiotic eye ointments or drops must only be used very conscientiously. They must of course be prescribed by the vet. It should also be noted that the majority of eye drops and ointments only have a shelf life of up to a few days after first use. Medicine that is old or has been open for longer than this amount of time should not be used in this case. 

Home remedies for conjunctivitis

In the autumn months, when leaves and dust are on the road and the wind whirls everything up, external irritants are often what triggers conjunctivitis. If your dog has had conjunctivitis at this time of year several times before and you are thus familiar with the symptoms, there are home remedies you can administer as a first step if you cannot immediately make it to the veterinary clinic. Eyebright tea has proved most effective. Prepare the tea according to the instructions on the packet and leave to cool. Then take some cotton wool, soak it in the tea and carefully clean the affected eye with it. If the dog displays any signs of pain, please seek veterinary assistance immediately. If the symptoms do not subside, a vet should also be consulted.


Conjunctivitis in dogs can be unpleasant. But timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment can support the recovery process. It is important to know and recognise the symptoms. If you suspect your dog has conjunctivitis, please consult a vet.