Many things can contribute to tear duct infections near your furry pal’s eyes. Sometimes it’s environmental; other times a dog's genes come into play. Because an infection can lead to severe vision problems if left untreated, you’ll want to take your pooch to the vet at the first sign of a problem.
What to Watch for
In the early stages of infection, you might notice that Bruno’s eyes are watering nonstop. He could have those dark tear stains around his eyes or just have a lot of wetness surrounding his sockets. After a snooze, he’ll probably wake up with crusty spots in the corners of his eyes. Colored discharge, a bad odor and redness in or around his eyes let you know an infection is possibly building up.
In some cases, the cause of a tear duct infection is simple: He scratched his eye while grooming and wound up with an ingrown hair, or he got a bug bite near his eye. Sometimes overly active tear ducts become infected if your pup has conjunctivitis, or pink eye. These causes are easy to see and likely preventable in the future. Other times, infections may just be part of his life and no matter what you do, they’ll reoccur again and again. Breeds with short snouts and shallow eye sockets -- like Shih-Tzu, Pekingese, Boston terrier, pug and Maltese dogs, to name a few -- have higher chances of suffering from chronic eye issues. This is because the natural eye fluid doesn’t have anywhere to go and builds up in the socket, leaving the area moist and open to infection.
Treatment varies depending on the cause of infection. You can wipe away any visible discharge with a clean sterile cloth and an eye solution or tear stain cleaner as often as two to three times a day. If ingrown hairs or extra eyelashes seem to be the main culprit, your veterinarian may want to do cosmetic surgery to remove them to prevent future infections. But if your puppy has lazy tear ducts that don’t drain properly, you might have to massage the inner corners of his eyelids daily or take him in for routine flushes at the vet’s office. The worst-case scenario is that your fur ball has to undergo surgery to open his tear ducts.
If you have multiple pets of the canine and feline community in your home, it’s probably best to separate your infected pooch from them. Infections in general, especially conjunctivitis, are highly contagious. Keeping Bruno away from his furry family until he recovers will ideally prevent any other breakouts. Additionally, when you do handle him and clean up his infected areas, wash your hands thoroughly before playing with any other members of your furry brood. It is possible for you to spread infections, too.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.