The Edmond Sun


November 24, 2008

Dog’s conjunctivitis not contagious, but needs quick treatment

EDMOND — Q: Our 5-year-old sheltie dog always has had healthy, clear and beautiful eyes until about one month ago. Each morning now her eyes contain a yellowish discharge and tears have stained the hair below her eyes. She also rubs her eyes with her paws and noticeably squints her eyelids. I wash out her eyes with no-tears baby shampoo and warm water daily but the discharge returns overnight. Can you suggest some over-the-counter medicine to treat this? We have two small children — is this possibly contagious to them? — Sally and Tim W.

A: The best suggestion that anyone could offer Sally and Tim is to not wait another minute before making an appointment with their veterinarian to have those eyes properly examined and treated. Their description is that of chronic conjunctivitis, probably the most common eye problem that companion animal veterinarians see on a daily basis. Identifying and treating the underlying cause of conjunctivitis is extremely important — if possible in the early stage before permanent eye damage occurs.       

Simply defined, conjunctivitis is an inflammation and or infection of the conjunctiva, the membrane lining the inner eyelids and a portion of the eyeball itself.

A complete list of the causes of conjunctivitis are too numerous to describe here, but a few common causes are: local infections, both bacterial and viral; foreign material in the conjunctival sac and behind the dogs unique “third eyelid;” fungi; dry eye (keratitis sicca), which results from inadequate tear production; and allergies.     

Following a thorough physical examination of the eyes, your veterinarian may elect to do a culture and sensitivity test to determine specific cause and what medicinals will best remedy the problem. On a routine basis, proper cleansing, eye drops and or ointments usually are employed in conjunction with a specific systemic antibiotic. 

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