It is very common for cats and dogs to suffer with eye infections that have similar causes and symptoms. It is crucial to be aware, as an owner, of the warning signs to look out for so you are able to prevent infections and diseases from ever setting in or developing. The good news is that the vast majority of eye infections in both cats and dogs are very easily treated and so will not usually cause any long term damage or suffering for the animal. Infections have various causes including a scratch or foreign object in the eye, bacteria, viruses or something more serious such as a tumour. It is important to be aware of what is causing the infection so you (or your vet) is able to provide the best and most appropriate treatment. To assess whether your dog or cat has an eye infection you should look out for the following symptoms:
As an owner you will probably become aware quite quickly if there is something unusual happening with your pet's eye due to changes in their behaviour. Depending on the cause, if you notice the signs in good time you can often prevent an infection from ever developing. If an infection lasts more than a few days or gets progressively worse you will need to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
You can avoid some eye infections altogether by keeping your pet's immune system in good shape. Bacteria and viruses that can cause eye infections may never have the chance to develop if your pet has a strong immune system. To do this make sure your cat or dog's diet contains all the nutrients required and is of a high quality.
If you spot an eye infection in the early stages you can attempt to begin treating it at home by making up a saline solution. This should comprise of a quarter teaspoon of salt to a cup of boiling water, leave the water to cool down until luke warm before using it to wash your pet's eye. Everytime you treat your animal's eye you must make a new solution, because bacteria can develop in saline water over time. Wash your pet's eye with a saline solution 3 times per day and if after two days the infection isn't improving you will need to take them to the vet.
If your pet requires medical attention the vet will first begin by assessing whether the eye infection is caused by a virus or bacteria. If a bacteria is determined to be the cause your pet will probably be prescribed antibiotics but if the cause is viral then a topical cream will be prescribed. In some cases you may even require the use of both of these treatments. How long the infection takes to clear up will depend on it's severity and cause but can generally take anywhere from a matter of days to as long as a few weeks.
As well as veterinary methods there are many natural remedies out there which may clear up infections altogether or simply aid the healing process along with medication. One natural remedy is to make a saline solution as mentioned above with a few drops of candela, chamomile or eyebright. To help fight off the infection you should supplement your dog's diet with leafy green veg and vitamin C and E. You can give your dog vitamins meant for human consumption although then you must calculate the dosage for their weight, or alternatively buy vitamins specifically for animals. Some people recommend giving a small amount of apple cider vinger to your pet daily for overall good health and a boost to the immune system, although this may not be palatable for all pets!
Conjunctivitis in dogs and cats is often called Pink Eye. Pink eye is basically just a certain type of eye infection that will be treated in the same way as an eye infection caused by something else. Pink eye causes redness, teary eyes and itching and can actually be transmitted to dogs and cats from humans so you should try to keep your distance and sterilise anything you use to clean your pets eye after use.