Symptoms and Treatment Options
Eye allergies in dogs, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, is an inflammatory condition. Eye allergies are extremely irritating and cause itchy, red, watery eyes. They can be confused with eye infections because they cause almost the same symptoms and are about as equally common in dogs. This can make it difficult to tell whether it is dog eye allergies vs. infection. Eye allergies are often coupled with other allergy symptoms, such as sneezing or itchy skin.
If your dog is experiencing any kind of eye issues, especially if it is the first time, and if your dog doesn’t respond to home treatment, or you suspect an eye infection, take your dog to the veterinarian for an examination as soon as possible.
Dog Eye Allergies Causes
Eye allergies are caused when a dog’s immune system has a hypersensitive response to otherwise harmless environmental substances. Because the dog is having a reaction, we call these things allergens. These include grass pollen, tree pollen, mold, cat dander, dust, insect particles, and more. When the dog comes into contact with an allergen, their immune system recognizes it as a ‘foreign invader’ and mounts an inflammatory response that we see as dog eye allergy symptoms.
While any dog can develop eye allergies, dogs that have skin allergies tend to have more problems with eye allergies than other dogs.
Eye allergies in dogs can also be caused by contact hypersensitivity or certain food ingredients. If your dog is sensitive to a particular laundry detergent or after eating chicken, for example, it can cause itchy, red eyes.
Symptoms of eye allergies in dogs can include:
• Acute onset of itchy, red, watery eyes
• Swollen, red eyelids
• Pawing at eyes
• Rubbing face on carpet or furniture
• Increased eye discharge that may be clear, white, or caked on eyelids
• Yellow or green eye discharge if the eye develops a secondary infection
• Remember that dog eye allergies can mimic the symptoms of other eye conditions that are more serious and painful, and can cause blindness. This include conditions like eye infections, glaucoma, eyelash disorders, dry eye, and corneal ulcers. In addition, infectious conditions like distemper or eye worms can cause itchy, red eyes and ocular discharge.
Dog Eye Allergy Treatment
If your dog has mild eye allergies, you can often manage the condition at home by rinsing your dog’s eyes with sterile saline. While human over-the-counter eye drops for allergies may be effective in some dogs, it is best to always check with your veterinarian before putting any human eye drops in your dog’s eyes.
If these treatments don’t help, then the problem may not be an eye allergy or your dog may need stronger prescription-strength allergy eye drops for dogs that are available through your veterinarian. In either case, it’s time to call your vet for advice. Never use steroid eye drops in your dog without the supervision of a veterinarian. These can cause serious side effects that can result in severe pain and blindness if used inappropriately.