Can Eye Infections Be Passed Among Cats & Dogs?

by Betty Lewis
    They share space and your love, and sometimes, eye infections.

    They share space and your love, and sometimes, eye infections.

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    Rex enjoys a good romp in the park, while Puss prefers a nice afternoon nap. Though they live together, cats and dogs often lead somewhat separate lives, content to take turns with your affection. Eye infections are one of the few conditions cats and dogs share without a little give-and-take.

    If Puss has been squinting or closing her eyes a lot, she may have conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis refers to an inflamed eye and is often accompanied by excessive watering in the eye, cloudiness, yellow or greenish discharge, and prominent or irritated conjunctival membranes. Conjunctivitis can be caused by noninfectious triggers such as allergens, but usually it's the result of infectious agents such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. Some common primary and secondary causes of feline conjunctivitis include feline herpesvirus, feline Calicivirus, chlamydophila felis, Mycoplasma, Streptococci, Staphylococci and Cryptococcus.

    When Rex's eye is inflamed, he has conjunctivitis. Like Puss, his irritation can be noninfectious or infectious and is usually caused by a virus or bacteria. If Rex has an infectious conjunctivitis, the bacteria responsible is usually Streptococcus or Staphylococcus -- two of the same culprits potentially responsible for your cat's eye infection. Lyme disease can also cause eye infections in dogs.

    Mycoplasma, Streptococci and Staphylococci are bacterial agents your pup and kitty can catch and share. PetMD notes the Staphylococcus bacteria is easily shared between animals, and even occasionally, humans. Bordetella, otherwise known as kennel cough, is a respiratory illness commonly associated with dogs. If Rex picked up this bacteria, you'll likely notice a honking cough; if Puss picked up this bug -- which is easily airborne -- coughing may be only one symptom she experiences. Other signs of bordetella in cats include discharge from the nose and eyes, fever and listlessness. If Puss has feline herpesvirus, feline Calicivirus or chlamydophila felis, don't worry; she can't share those with Rex.

    If Rex and Puss are sharing an eye infection, the vet should check them both out. Eye infections are generally treated with ophthalmic medications containing antibiotics to control any bacterial infection and anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation. As well, the vet may recommend gently wiping out their eyes with a sterile eyewash on a cotton ball if their eyes are crusting over from discharge.

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    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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