Can dogs get pink eyes from humans?

April 13, 2012

People with pink eyes are considered pariah. The red-eyed look is of course unappealing. But what makes people avoid individuals with this kind of eye infection is the fact that it is highly contagious. This is probably the reason why people with pink eyes would hide behind large sunglasses. Conjunctivitis is easily transmitted. Through eye to hand and hand to eye contamination, this eye infection can spread easily. The virus or bacteria will settle on the hands of an infected person when the eye is rubbed. As the hands will be used to touch objects and surfaces the virus or the bacteria can be easily transferred to the environment. Once a member of the family gets infected with conjunctivitis, it is highly probable that other members of the family will be infected too. Dogs are hugged, patted and of course cared for. This means that pink eyes can be easily transmitted to the pet dog.

Pink eyes, sore eyes or conjunctivitis is a viral or bacterial infection that causes the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the white part of the eyes. Pink eyes can also be due to an allergic reaction to pollens, grasses and other irritants. Conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye infections of canines. Symptoms would vary depending on the cause that triggers the infection. A common symptom though for allergies and infection is tearing and discomfort in the eye and the redness caused by the inflammation of the conjunctiva. The redness is caused by the buildup of fluid (edema) in the tissues that increases the size of the blood vessels. If pink eye is due to allergy, itchiness and tearing will be noticed. Pink eye caused by bacteria, virus or fungi will create a pus or thick greenish or yellowish discharge. If pink eye is caused by allergies it would have a clear watery discharge.

Conjunctivitis or pink eye is a painful infection. Humans afflicted with conjunctivitis would continuously squint because of the gritty feeling in the eyes. Children will not be stopped from rubbing the aching and itchy eyes. The same thing would be true with man’s best friends. The dog would try to paw the infected eyes or rub it against objects. The gunk and the discharge in the eyes of the dog may be disgusting but pink eye is not a life threatening medical concern for a dog. Viral conjunctivitis in fact would not need any cure as the virus will run its course in a week or two. However, if the dog is not stopped from pawing or rubbing the infected eye against the furniture, the carpet or against other objects, the pink eye can worsen. From mild swelling, the inflammation can get severe and the bacteria or the virus can affect other parts of the eye and impair the dog’s vision. Corneal ulcers can develop as well. A clean washcloth soaked in lukewarm water and applied as compress to the affected eye will ease the discomfort of the dog. An Elizabethan collar will prevent the dog from rubbing the infected eye.

Viral or bacterial conjunctivitis in dogs, similar to conjunctivitis in human is highly contagious. Littermates and other dogs in the kennel can have pink eyes as well. As mentioned, viral conjunctivitis may not need any treatment as it will be gone in a few days. However, pink eye arising from bacterial infection, from allergies and from foreign irritants in the eye would need to be treated as it can have serious and permanent damage such as blindness. A vet would commonly prescribe antibiotics, ointments and eye drops.

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