The function and anatomy of your dog’s eye is similar in most ways to your own. However, some differences are present including the presence of a third eyelid, which provides an added layer of protection. Even with this extra protection, you may still need eye drops for dogs if any issues arise.
All dogs regardless of breed or age have this third eyelid, also known as the nictitating membrane. It can vary in color, with some being more noticeable than others.
Many owners notice the nictitating membrane when their dog is asleep, as they have three eyelids. They can sometimes sleep with two of these open, leaving the third one closed to protect the eye. It does have the unfortunate side effect of looking a bit like your dog’s eyes have rolled into the back of his head, but don’t worry they haven’t and are perfectly healthy!
Table of Contents
- Eye Drops For Dogs: different types and how to pick the right one
- Keeping the Eye Healthy
- What’s In Eye Drops for Dogs?
- Dry Eyes in Dogs
- Eye Infections in Dogs
- Types of Eye Drops for Dogs
- Common Conditions that Require Eye Drops
- Selecting The Right Eye Drops for Dogs
- Eye Washes for Dogs
- Final Thoughts
Eye Drops For Dogs: different types and how to pick the right one
Keeping the Eye Healthy
Your pooch relies on his vision to live an independent life, and you may be surprised to hear that eye issues in canines are extremely common. Often this is caused by the long hair surrounding their eyes getting into their eyes and causing irritation. If this is left to progress it can, in some cases, lead to infection and blindness.
Dogs have a knack for getting into mischief, and after going for a long hike your dog may end up with an injury here or there. It’s important to give him a once over after a long trip, or a walk through overgrown botany.
Checking his eyes for signs of discharge, discoloration or injury will help you to seek immediate veterinary care without allowing a minor issue to progress to a major one. When it comes to eye issues in dogs, you can never be too careful. It's always best to seek veterinary treatment if you suspect a problem.
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What’s In Eye Drops for Dogs?
Eye drops are basically a topical ointment for eyes, but of course, you can’t go slathering cream on there – so we use liquid droppers to administer medication, or clean the eye. The ingredients of eye drops vary on the condition that your dog suffers from, with eye drops for dogs available for a multitude of conditions.
Dry Eyes in Dogs
This condition – known formally as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KDS – is characterized by, you guessed it, dry eyes. This often occurs when your dog doesn’t possess adequate tear film over the eye to keep it well moisturized.
A pretty common issue that is more irritating than painful for your pooch, but if untreated your dog can easily scratch at his eyes to try to relieve the discomfort and end up causing significant injury. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- rapid blinking
- protruding third eyelid
- pus on the corner of the eye
- pigment change or reddening
Eye Infections in Dogs
When an eye infection is diagnosed, your veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotic eyedrops to be administered at home. Many veterinarians prefer to start with an antibacterial eye drop, or other more natural methods before moving to antibiotics, as with antibiotic resistance it’s important to only use them when absolutely necessary.
If your dog has been prescribed antibiotics, you should follow your vets administering guidelines to a T, as failing to finish a course of antibiotics can leave your dog at risk of re-developing an infection. In fact, while it seems as though they get a new infection, it’s merely a case of the first infection never fully going away but being dampened down by the antibiotics before striking back when a full course isn’t followed through.
Types of Eye Drops for Dogs
1. Antibacterial Eye Drops
Antibacterial eyedrops are the most commonly used eye drops for dogs. They are available to buy over-the-counter at most pet stores or from your local vet clinic. You can use these on your dog if he has a weeping eye to see if it will clear up without veterinary treatment. Of course, we do recommend always seeking medical treatment for eye problems, but if you’re on a budget, you can try these eye drops for a day or two first.
2. Steroid Eye Drops
Prescription steroid eye drops for dogs are used to treat inflammation in the eye. A very delicate organ, the eye can scar easily due to any inflammation and steroids are an excellent way to protect against loss of vision. More often, we see a combination eye drops that contains steroids and antibiotics, and these are used to treat inflammation and the root cause of it in one fell swoop.
Common Conditions that Require Eye Drops
Environmental irritants ,including pollen and cleaning products, can cause irritation to your dog’s eye, nose and throat. If it’s impossible to completely remove your dog’s exposure to these factors – you can manage the allergy symptoms with medication, and by keeping his living area as clean as possible.
Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis in dogs occurs when the conjunctiva – which is the moist area of the under-lid – becomes inflamed. There are multiple reasons that this can happen, most notably from an allergic reaction or dry eyes.
Symptoms of this condition include:
- rapid blinking
- swelling of the area
- pus seeping from the eye
Treatment for conjunctivitis is ordinarily done by cleaning the affected area and treating with a combination steroid/antibiotic eyedrop.
Not a medical condition per se, epiphora is the name for an overflow of tears from the eye. A normal, healthy eye will produce tears to keep the eye well lubricated, the excess of which is drained down into the tear ducts – but in this instance, the tears leave the eye and leave your dog with a constant or frequent weeping appearance.
The most obvious sign of this ailment is the obvious wet streaks on your dog’s face, and in time – the red or brown staining in these areas. A more serious condition may be present, such as development issues with the tear ducts. Therefore, your veterinarian should be seen, but home management can be done through keeping the area clean and using specific eye drops.
4. Breed Specific Issues
Certain breeds are more prone to eye conditions; there’s no point in ignoring that fact. The fact of the matter is that, yes, Pugs get tons of eye infections. All of the flat-face dogs do – Pugs, Pekingese, Boxers, Bulldogs, etc…
But, it’s not just these smooshy face fluffballs that have issues. Dog’s with loose facial skin, including the St Bernard, Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, and Bloodhounds suffer from a fair amount of eye problems, poor flopsy faced pooches.
Selecting The Right Eye Drops for Dogs
For a minor eye irritation, buying over the counter medicine is quite acceptable, but if your dog suffers from more serious symptoms, you should always consult with a veterinarian before using any medication.
1. Neo Poly Dex Ophthalmic
Used to treat infections and inflammation, this specific eye drop contains two types of antibiotic and a steroid. Ordinarily applied every two to four hours when using the drops, but ointment is also available which can be applied every eight to twelve hours – both of these, of course, depends on your dog’s specific diagnosis.
2. Terramycin Ophthalmic Ointment
An antibiotic treatment that is commonly used to treat conditions such as conjunctivitis, and inflammation of the eyelid. The drops work thanks to the active ingredient oxytetracycline blocking any bacteria's ability to grow and multiply whilst killing off those that are present.
Terramycin Ophthalmic Ointment can be used for not only dogs but horses and cats as well, with the average period of treatment around four days. If you don’t see results at the end of this period, you should discuss other medications with your vet.
3. Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic Solution
An antibiotic treatment for canines suffering from bacterial infections, the active ingredient aminoglycoside binds with any present bacteria and inhibits protein synthesis which in layman's terms – kills the bacteria! This treatment cannot be used for animals that are also suffering from a viral or fungal infection, and should also be avoided for bitches in pup, or those that are lactating.
4. Ader Enterprises Pet Vision Pet Vision Pro
This eye drop is designed for longer-term use for ongoing eye conditions such as incipient and immature cataracts, nuclear sclerosis, and dry eye syndrome. Ader Enterprises Pet Vision Pet Vision Pro should be applied two to three times daily for a minimum of thirty days to see a noticeable improvement.
5. MicrocynAH Ophthalmic Gel
MicrocynAH Ophthalmic Gel is a gel used to help prevent or relieve dryness of your dog’s eyes. It works by providing a base layer over the eye, thus providing added protection while lubricating to remove dryness and irritation.
This ointment is used by applying on the lower lid and should be administered when necessary. Depending on the condition or ailment that your dog is suffering from, your veterinarian may be able to give you an idea on how often you may need to reapply.
Eye Washes for Dogs
Before administering eyedrops, it’s absolutely vital that you start by cleaning out the affected area, and that goes for every time that you re-administer.
Manufactured in a human-grade facility, this eye wash helps to relieve discomfort and itching caused by environmental pollutants by helping to sterilize your dog of any pollutants he may have picked up, such as pollen. Tomlyn Sterile Eye Wash for Dogs and Cats is specifically designed to be gentle on your dog’s eyes by being produced at the same pH level as your pups own tears.
A gentle saline solution designed to safely clean your dog’s eyes by mimicking your dog’s own tears. Using all-natural ingredients, Burt’s Bees Eye Wash Solution for Dogs avoids any chemical irritants that could end up causing more irritation to your dog. Use as directed on the packaging by squeezing two to three drops directly into your dog’s eye to clean away any debris, or clean out minor scrapes.
Can I use human eye drops on my dog?
I know it might seem like dog's eyes are probably the same as ours, so you assume “well why don't I just use my eye drops for my dog.” DO NOT use your eye drops on your dog's eyes without consulting your vet first. Medication for dogs almost always different, even if you are treating something as basic as conjunctivitis.
How can I treat my dogs eye infection at home?
If your dog is on other medication that you worry may not mix well with eyedrops, it is possible to make an all-natural eyedrop, using just salt and water. Mix ¼ of a teaspoon of salt with one cup of lukewarm water in a sterile container and use three to four times per day when necessary.
Your dog can’t speak up when he’s in pain or uncomfortable, so it’s important that you keep an eye on his overall health for him. It can be as simple as doing a quick home checkup every month or so to see if his eyes look cloudy, or weepy at all – and this two-minute act could ultimately save his vision.
That might sound dramatic, but I am deadly serious, pets have gone blind from a minor issue being left to fester and get to the stage where they are beyond repair before an owner realizes something is wrong.
Be the proactive owner that your pets deserve. And hey, don’t worry, administering eye drops for dogs doesn’t have to be a major cause for concern. It’s a super easy task that almost always fits in with your current schedule!
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