Tearing, reddened, or squinting eyes in your dog or cat could be a sign of an eye infection. Infections are caused by a foreign object or an irritant in the eye, or by a virus, bacteria, or fungus that’s attacking your pet’s system. Oftentimes the eye infection follows a bacterial infection in the body. Eye infections can also be brought about by different types of trauma to the eye or to the immune system, allowing a virus or other infecting agent to take hold.
The most common causes of eye infections in dogs are allergies, blocked tear ducts, and corneal problems, like ulcers. In cats, the most common causes are allergies and infectious organisms like calicivirus (FCV), herpes, and chlamydia. Some breeds of dogs and cats are more genetically prone to eye infections than others. Read more about the causes of eye infections.
The symptoms of eye infections differ depending on what is causing the infection, but most often include one or more of the following: redness, a cloudy iris, swelling, pawing or rubbing the eyes, and runny or thick green or yellow discharge. Your pet may also be experiencing some light sensitivity, so you may see them squinting or blinking.
Most eye infections can be cleared up with eye drops and medications. You may have to wipe your pet’s face clean of discharge, and put your pet in a cone collar to prevent them from scratching or further irritating the eye. In some cases, when the root cause of the infection is a malformed eyelid or a protruding tear duct, surgery may be required to correct the issue.
Eye infections can differ greatly in their seriousness and duration, so if your pet is showing symptoms of eye trouble for more than 48 hours, contact your veterinarian for testing.
More on Pet Eye Health
Glaucoma in Cats and Dogs
When Dogs Get Cataracts
Dry Eye in Dogs
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.