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Home remedies for your dog's eye infection

Black dog advice

You can keep your dog’s eyes clean by wiping them daily.

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If your dog is pawing at their eyes more than usual or there's mucus there, your pet may have an eye infection. As well as medication from your vet, there are home remedies that can also help this problem.

By Dr Jo de Klerk, BVetMed (Hons) MScTAH MRCVS

Updated on the 19/11/2020, 15:17

Eye infections are common in dogs and require a visit to the vet. But some home remedies will help speed up your dog’s recovery. Here are some tips on how to improve eye infections with natural, home-made remedies.

What are the signs that my dog has an eye infection?

Most eye infections cause irritation and discomfort, so you'll probably notice your dog pawing at their eye more than usual. You may also notice some green, mucus discharge – this is a pretty good indicator of an infection. Eye infections and eye trauma can look similar, so it is important that all problems with the eyes get checked out by a vet. But eye infections, also known as conjunctivitis in dogs, can range from mild to severe. Other serious symptoms include cloudiness in the eye, squinting, a swollen eye and a reluctance to let anyone touch the area around the eye. It can be difficult to get rid of an eye infection without appropriate treatment, and therefore using home remedies to speed up the process, alongside medicated eye treatment, will result in the best outcome.

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What home remedies are there for a dog with an eye infection?

Your dog should always be seen by a veterinarian for a problem with the eye. Yet in conjunction with medicated eye drops, you can add in some home remedies to improve the eye infection yourself. Here are some of the most effective home remedies.

  • The first thing you can do is clean the eye. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of boiled and then cooled water. Stir well, soak some cotton wool in the solution and then wipe away any discharge from around the eye. Discharge can lead to secondary infections around the eye, so it is important to keep the eye clean.
  • Rooibos (redbush) tea can also help clear up an infection. Brew some tea, wait for it to cool down, and then apply it to the infected area using a cotton wool swab. Other herbal washes have been found to have a positive effect. These include calendula, chamomile tea, red clover and eyebright.
  • Warm compresses will also help relieve symptoms associated with an eye infection. This can be easily done by placing a damp, warm towel over your dog’s eye for several minutes, a couple of times a day. This is a particularly good home treatment for a swollen eye, as it helps remove the swelling and pain.
  • You may also see people recommending apple cider vinegar for dog’s eyes. But even though it has natural antibacterial properties, it can be irritating to the eyes and worsen the pain in already sore eyes.

These home remedies should always be done in conjunction with medicated drops from your vet. The vet may also give your dog anti-inflammatories, as eye conditions can be extremely painful. The home remedies can be continued for as long as needed. Yet if the eye is not improving after three days, see the veterinarian again for another check-up.

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How do you flush and treat your dog’s irritated eyes?

Nothing should ever go directly into the eye apart from medicated eye drops or sterile saline. It is unnecessary to flush your dog’s eyes with saline for most cases of an infection. Yet if there is an underlying problem in the eye, such as dry eye or a corneal ulcer, or there is copious amounts of mucus discharge, additional lubrication can be helpful to improve comfort.

Flushing the eye is relatively simple. Take a pipette of sterile saline and, with a finger and thumb from one hand, open your dog’s eye. Gently place one drop into the eye, trying to avoid placement of the drop on an area of trauma. This can be repeated several times a day.

You might need someone to help hold your dog, as dogs often back up away from you when you come at them with eye drops. If you don’t have someone holding, ask your dog to sit, then kneel behind them, lift their chin up and administer the eye drops from behind them. This way, when they want to back up, you are there to stop them.

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How can I prevent eye infections in my dog?

Eye infections are not always easy to prevent, as sometimes they happen out of the blue. But here are some top tips that might help improve the health of your dog’s eyes.

  • Do not let your dog play with other dogs who have eye infections, as your dog may contract an infection themself.
  • Keep your dog’s eyes clean by wiping them daily. This is especially important if your dog digs and gets dirt in them, or swims in dirty water.
  • Improve your dog’s immune system by feeding a healthy, balanced diet, full of anti-oxidants such as vitamin E.
  • Treat underlying eye conditions, such as dry eye, corneal ulcers, eyelid abnormalities and eyelash abnormalities. These conditions can cause pain and runny eyes with watery discharge, as well as mucus from the eyes.
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How do I protect myself if my dog has an eye infection?

Some eye infections can be passed from animals to humans, so make sure you wash your hands and dispose of anything you’ve used to clean the dog's eye. And never use the same cotton wool swab on both of your dog's eyes, as this could pass the infection from one eye to the other.

When should I take my dog to a vet?

All eye conditions require a trip to the vet, as it is difficult to distinguish between an eye infection and an eye trauma, which could potentially be very serious. Eye infections require medicated drops to clear them up quickly, but home remedies can significantly speed up the healing process.

In cases where it is a weekend or after hours, and your dog is not displaying serious symptoms, home remedies can help improve your dog’s condition until the local vet practice opens. If the eyes have not improved in three days with medication, take your dog back to the vet.

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