If you have a hypersensitive dog breed, you’re probably familiar with skin allergies and know how to handle them. But did you know that the allergens can affect the eyes, too?
Yes, allergy in dogs’ eyes is a thing, and the official name for it is “allergic conjunctivitis.”
In this post, we’ll cover all the basics about the condition, from the common symptoms to the best prevention tips.
Top 7 Things to Know About Eye Allergies in Dogs
Without wasting any more of your (and your pup’s) time, let’s check out what allergic conjunctivitis is all about.
1. Some Breeds Are More Prone to Eye Allergies
While no dog is 100% immune to conjunctivitis, there are some at-risk breeds.
If your pup gets atopic dermatitis a lot, he’s more likely to develop eye allergies. That’s because he’s already hypersensitive to common allergens like pollen, mold, and scented shampoos.
So, you’ll want to pay more attention to the warning signs if you have breeds like the Shih Tzu or Cocker Spaniel.
2. Eye Allergies Bring Along Clear or White Discharge
There are a lot of warning signs to watch out for. The top ones are redness and swelling around the eyes. As a result, the pup might squint or try to paw his face. It’s also possible to spot follicle formations.
However, one symptom that sets allergic conjunctivitis apart from other eye conditions is the discharge color.
If it’s only an allergic reaction, the discharge should be clear or white. Green or yellow discolorations can point to a bacterial infection.
3. Allergic Usually Conjunctivitis Hits Both Eyes at Once
Eye allergies are often bilateral, which means you’ll most likely spot the symptoms in both eyes right away. That’s not always the case with other conditions.
For instance, bacterial infections could start on one side and then spread to the other. Meanwhile, conjunctivitis that results from trauma might stay limited to one eye only all the way to the end.
4. Histamine Drops Aren’t the Only Answer
There are different ways to treat allergies in a dog’s eye, but topical treatments are the most common options. So, your vet could prescribe eye drops with antihistamines or steroids to curb the inflammation and immune response.
It’s also not unheard of for a vet to ask the pet parent to use saline drops. If done right, those could “flush” the allergens and discharge.
However, if the allergies pop up in other places on the pup’s body, then the vet might need to bring out the big guns: systemic antihistamines.
5. Using Drops Before Getting an Official Diagnosis Is Risky
Although we just went over how eye drops can help ease the symptoms, I can’t recommend using them without a proper diagnosis. You never know how much a wrong treatment can backfire!
Take, for instance, steroid-based drops. Sure, they work wonders when it comes to reducing inflammation, but they also slow down wound healing.
So, if you misdiagnose a corneal ulcer for eye allergies and decide to use topical steroids, you’ll likely be doing more harm than good.
Word of advice? Don’t grab any eye drops unless your vet says so.
6. Diagnosing Eye Allergies in Dogs Is Usually Easy
Speaking of vets and proper diagnosis, I have some good news: the diagnosis is usually simple.
The vet will start with a visual examination and might need a conjunctival smear. That sounds invasive, but it’s not awful. It’s just a quick swab used for cytological testing.
They might also ask about the dog’s history with atopic dermatitis to see if the pup’s immune system tends to overreact to certain allergens.
7. The Allergies Will Likely Flare Again
With proper treatment, the allergies could clear up in a few days, but there’s one catch. Allergic conjunctivitis often flares up again.
To avoid putting your pooch through all that hassle over and over again, you’ll need to take some preventative measures.
For one, you’ll want to identify the allergen. Ask your vet for help or allergy testing if you need to. Then, try to keep the culprit away and vacuum your home regularly to reduce exposure.
Seeing your puppy’s eyes all red and swollen can be alarming, but before you jump to conclusions, you’ll need to head to the vet and confirm that it’s an allergic reaction.
From there, the treatment process should be fairly simple!