Eye Drops For Dogs

Joanne Keenan
eye drops for dogs

Eye Drops For Dogs

Your dog’s eyes are just as delicate as yours and are just as susceptible to damage and infection. There are many treatments available including something as simple as eye drops for dogs that can help support eye health.

First, let’s look a little closer at the eye by learning about the eye’s microbiome.

The Microbiome Of The Eye

The surface of the eye is home to its microbiome, a collection of microorganisms that include bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes. Just like in other parts of the body, the eye's microbiome supports health and the immune system. So if you use antibiotics to manage an eye infection, they can disrupt this delicate balance and affect eye health.

The Effect Of Antibiotics On The Eye Microbiome 

Review your options carefully before using antibiotic eye drops for dogs. They can disrupt the eye's natural microbiome. Antibiotic eye drops are often used to eliminate or suppress bacterial infections. It's important to note that antibiotics are not selective and target both harmful and beneficial bacteria, so they affect the balance of the eye's natural microbiome. While sometimes they may be needed, it’s a good idea to ask your vet about alternatives. 

Beneficial bacteria support the immune system against harmful pathogens and contribute to overall eye health. An imbalance can lead to the following:

  • When antibiotics disrupt the delicate balance between different types of microorganisms in the eye, harmful bacteria can thrive, leading to secondary infections or other issues.
  • Frequent or improper use of antibiotics can contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can be difficult to treat and pose a significant challenge in managing infections.
  • Disruption of the natural microbiome might slow down the healing process for the eye.
  • An eye microbiome that's out of balance might leave the eye more vulnerable to future infections or other eye-related problems.

Types Of Eye Drops For Dogs

Dogs can develop eye-related issues such as conjunctivitis, dry eye, allergies, cataracts, blocked eye ducts, infections and more. In some cases, eye drops can provide immediate relief, comfort, supportive healing and good eye health.

Because eyes are so sensitive, when your dog has eye issues, you should always consult your holistic veterinarian or a veterinary eye specialist for a diagnosis and guidance on treatment options.

1. Eye Drops For Dogs With Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is known as "pink eye.” It means the conjunctiva, the thin tissue lining the eyelids and covering the front of the eye, is inflamed. It can be caused by irritants, allergies, infections or a combination of factors. Symptoms include redness, swelling, excessive tearing, discharge and discomfort.

Conventional treatment involves using mild antibiotics to combat bacterial infctions, steroids to reduce inflammation, and lubricants to alleviate discomfort.

Antibiotic Eye Drops For Dogs

Antibiotic eye drops are a conventional treatment for bacterial eye infections. These drops contain antibiotics that work to eliminate the bacteria causing the infection. As noted earlier, antibiotics can disrupt the eye’s microbiome and affect eye health.

How To Support The Eye Microbiome 
If antibiotic eye drops for dogs are the only option to treat your dog’s eye infection, there are ways to minimize the impact on the eye's natural microbiome. Here’s what you can do:

  • Get A Proper Diagnosis: Confirm the type of bacterial infection and ensure you have the correct antibiotic eye drops for dogs.
  • Follow Prescribed Instructions: Use the antibiotic eye drops as directed by your holistic veterinarian. Do not skip doses or stop treatment prematurely or you might need to extend the treatment and risk further damage to the microbiome.
  • Support Healing: After completing the antibiotic treatment, consider using natural eye drops that contain ingredients like chamomile, calendula, and aloe vera to help soothe and support the eye's recovery.
  • Probiotics: Use probiotics to maintain and support your dog’s internal microbiome.
  • Regular Check-ups: Follow up with your holistic veterinarian to ensure the eye is healing properly and to address any concerns related to the treatment.

2. Eye Drops For Dogs With Allergies

Dogs can suffer from allergies just like humans, and symptoms can include itchy, watery and irritated eyes. It’s known as allergic conjunctivitis when allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or certain foods, come into contact with the conjunctiva of the eye. In response, the immune system releases histamines, causing the blood vessels in the conjunctiva to dilate resulting in the classic symptoms of redness, swelling, itching and watery discharge. 

A conventional treatment is allergy-specific eye drops with antihistamines to alleviate itching and discomfort. There are natural eye drops that can soothe allergic conjunctivitis in dogs.

Natural Eye Drops For Dog Allergies

Some natural eye drops are made with herbal ingredients like chamomile, calendula, euphrasia (eyebright) and aloe vera, which can help maintain normal histamine levels and inflammatory response. 

Here’s how they can help:

  • Soothing natural ingredients are less likely to mask discomfort or cause further irritation.
  • Natural eye drops avoid harsh chemicals and synthetic additives that could cause discomfort.
  • Natural ingredients can soothe and support healing.
  • Natural eye drops can contain moisturizing ingredients to lubricate the eye.

When choosing natural eye drops to help with dog allergies, consider the following:

  • Source And Quality: Choose products that prioritize quality and safety. Look for allergens or ingredients that your dog might react to.
  • Application: Choose drops that have easy-to-use applicators for accurate dosing and minimal discomfort.
  • Sensitivity: Start with a small amount of drops and observe your dog's reaction. If any irritation occurs, discontinue use and look for another option or type of drops.

3. Saline Eye Drops For Dogs

Saline eye drops, which contain a saltwater solution, can be used to cleanse and flush the eyes of debris, irritants or minor foreign objects. They are particularly useful after walks or outdoor activities to ensure your dog's eyes are clean and free from potential irritants.

Note: In September 2023, the FDA issued warning letters to many manufacturers of natural eye drops. The announcement warns that " unapproved ophthalmic drug products pose a heightened risk of harm to users because drugs applied to the eyes bypass some of the body’s natural defenses."

Signs Your Dog Needs Eye Drops

Here are some signs that your dog is having eye issues and may need eye drops or further diagnosis and treatment:

  • Excessive tearing or watery eyes  
  • Red, swollen or inflamed eyes 
  • Discharge that’s watery, mucous-like, or pus-filled
  • Frequent squinting or blinking 
  • Cloudy or hazy eyes (could be cataracts or corneal ulcers)
  • Excessive rubbing or pawing 

How To Dose Eye Drops For Dogs

Dealing with the eyes requires patience and care. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Wash your hands, rinse well, and gather eye drops, treats and a clean cloth.
  • Gently restrain your dog, getting help if you need to. You may need to wrap him in a blanket, or place him on a stable surface where he feels secure.
  • Hold your dog's head steady and use your non-dominant hand to gently lift his upper eyelid. With the other hand, hold the eye drop bottle and apply the recommended number of drops onto the eye's surface.
  • Release the eyelid and allow your dog to blink. Reward your dog with treats and praise for his cooperation.
  • Wipe away any excess using a clean, damp cloth.

It's important to be aware of the effect an infection and treatment can have on the eye's natural microbiome … and then take steps to heal it in the safest way possible. 

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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.