If the whites of your dog's eye have turned reddish or pink, he's probably suffering from pinkeye. That's the common term for conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the eye lining. Although pinkeye occurs fairly often in canines and humans, it's not something you can treat with an over-the-counter medication. Take your dog to the veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment. Most dogs recover completely after receiving medication for pinkeye.
Your dog's conjunctiva lines his eyelids and covers his eyeball up to his cornea. Both the eyelids and conjunctiva contain numerous blood vessels. When inflammation occurs, more blood flows through these vessels, causing the conjunctiva's pink appearance. To make a diagnosis, your vet must conduct more than just a physical examination. She might have to perform a tear-production test and test for glaucoma, among other eye diseases.
Pinkeye results from a variety of causes. Your veterinarian must narrow down the culprit. Although conjunctivitis most often occurs because of bacterial or viral infection, dogs with seasonal allergies might suffer from the condition when particular molds and pollens trigger a reaction. Physical defects in the eye's structure can also cause pinkeye, as can a foreign object irritating an eye. Dogs with "dry eye," or tear production issues, can develop pinkeye. If your dog suffers from conjunctivitis in both eyes, it's likely due to an infection, according to data from the Merck Manual for Pet Health. Rarely, conjunctivitis is a sign of an eye tumor.
Besides the classic pink appearance of the conjunctiva, dogs with conjunctivitis might experience eye discharge, including pus; constant squinting and swollen eye tissue. Although pinkeye isn't painful, some discomfort might ensue.That can cause your dog to paw at his eyes because of the discharge or swelling. Before bringing him to the vet, you can clear the crud out of his eyes with cotton balls moistened in warm water.
Once your vet diagnoses the cause of your dog's pinkeye, treatment can begin. She'll likely prescribe topical ophthalmic antibiotic medications. Depending on the severity of the condition, the vet might also prescribe oral antibiotics to combat infection and steroids to reduce inflammation. In cases of dry eye, additional medication is required for tear production stimulation. Physical defects in the eye -- such as entropion, in which the eyelid turns inward, causing irritation -- require surgery.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.