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Vet Tech Rounds: Conjunctivitis in Pets

Vet Talks 4 min read
Conjunctivitis in pets banner

We all know that conjunctivitis is a condition that usually pops up at some stage, whether young, old, healthy, or sick. Any pet can also end up with conjunctivitis. For those that don’t know, anything ending in “itis” generally means that the specific area is inflamed and infected. In this case, conjunctivitis in pets refers to an infection of the eye.

What is Conjunctivitis in Pets?

Contagious conjunctivitis seems to be more common in cats than in dogs.

The tissue that covers the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid are called the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis means that the conjunctiva is inflamed. It can be caused by many different factors such as bacteria, viruses, allergies, trauma, and different irritants. It may not always be infectious; therefore, it may not transfer from one pet to another but it CAN also be contagious.

Contagious conjunctivitis seems to be more common in cats than in dogs. This is caused by different bacteria or viruses. Conjunctivitis in dogs can be more commonly caused by an underlying issue or a seasonal allergy.

eye graphic for conjunctivitis


Many of the symptoms associated with this condition are restricted to the eye area. There will be:

  • Redness in the eye
  • Discharge
  • Swelling
  • Excessive blinking
  • Light sensitivity
  • Scratching the eyes by pawing
  • Rubbing their face on different surfaces

Conjunctivitis is not something that should be attempted to treat at home. It is always best to take your pet to a veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying conditions or possible damage to the eye itself. When you notice these symptoms, it is advised to have this looked at as soon as possible.

Veterinary Tests

One of the main reasons that it’s important for your pet to get checked, is due to there being many different types of conjunctivitis. These different types can range from minor to severe and if you tried to treat the more severe case with home remedies, it most likely will not have any effect. The more severe cases can relate to conditions such as disorders of the tear duct, corneal diseases, eyelid abnormalities, or parasites.

A vet will put Fluorescein (Fluorescein is a dye that will detect corneal ulcers or any abrasions on the eye) into the eye. It is a green dye that glows under blue light and if there is damage to the cornea, the dye will stain the eye. When the dye sticks to the damaged area, it will show the veterinarian where the damage is and how big/small the issue is.

The Schirmer tear test will detect whether the eye is producing enough tears to lubricate the eye. There are additional tests that can also be performed to detect any bacteria, distemper, or glaucoma.

close up of dog eye


Most cases of conjunctivitis can be treated by applying eye drops and ointments to the eye. When conjunctivitis is related to a more serious condition then antibiotics and other medication may be prescribed to administer orally. When the guidelines and treatment are followed correctly, the eye will have a very good chance of healing within a few days.

There are many other reasons why a pet may have conjunctivitis such as entropion. Entropion means that the eyelid is deformed and the eyelashes grow inwards causing damage to the eye. This condition would require surgical attention in order to correct it.

Other issues such as dry eye, can be a long-term issue and will require treatment for the rest of your pet’s life. This can also be managed by applying drops daily.

It is always a good idea to revisit the vet to ensure that the eye is healing correctly and responding well to the advised treatment. For severe cases, the eye may need to be removed to prevent further discomfort and inflammation. Though this is rare, removal of the eye can be more common in breeds where the eyes are bulging.

white cat with eye infection


Not all causes of conjunctivitis can be avoided but for the most part, it can be prevented. Pet parents should be careful with airborne irritants that their pets can be exposed to such as cigarette smoke. For pets with eyes that are more exposed, playtime should be monitored. Vaccines can also be a great preventative measure against certain viruses that may cause problems with the eye. Diseases like the distemper and herpes virus can also cause conjunctivitis.

Supplements for Conjunctivitis in Pets

NHV Ey-Eas: Eye Infection Support For Cats & Dogs

Our pet experts advise using Ey-Eas. It’s our herbal formula that contains antibiotic and anti-inflammatory activities for conjunctivitis and watery eyes. This formula is gentle and non-irritating and it will support the management of uncomfortable swelling, soothe uncomfortable itching, and help control discharge. Ey-Eas can also help prevent the infection of other pets as conjunctivitis can be contagious in some cases.

Ey-Eas can be applied topically to the eye 2-3 times a day.

NHV OcuLove For Cats and Dogs

NHV OcuLove is our new vet-formulated supplement for eye health. It is designed to only be taken orally and contains a blend of herbs that are beneficial for fighting eye infections, supporting tear stains, reducing inflammation, and encouraging overall healthy eyes.

If you have any other questions about conjunctivitis in pets and what you can do to support your pet naturally, feel free to reach out to our pet experts. We are always happy to help.

Holly RVN

Holly RVN

Holly graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland. She also completed a 1-year Animal Care course. Worked in small Animal Veterinary practice for 3+ years before moving on to working in the Equine Industry. Holly is passionate about animals and spends much of her spare time going on long walks with her Boston Terrier, Lloyd.

Published: May 15, 2020

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