january the rub on conjunctivitis eye care

RUFF GUIDE: eye care
january | eye spy
dr. kim smyth explains a common
condition that pesters pets
the rub on conjunctivitis
It’s a familiar scenario for many pet parents: your cat wakes up one morning with watery eyes and caked-on
crud, or your dog develops thick, greenish eye goo and irritated lids.
The likely cause is conjunctivitis (often called “pink eye” in humans), which is an inflammation of the membrane
that lines the eye. Conjunctivitis is itchy, so your pet may paw at the affected eye — one of the many reasons
to seek treatment at the first sign of trouble. A pet who is constantly clawing at itchy eyes can cause infection
or injury to the cornea, so when Fluffy or Rover starts rubbing, it’s time to visit the vet!
Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses (most commonly
in cats), bacterial infections (most commonly in dogs),
allergies and irritating pollutants (like cigarette smoke
and even some shampoos).
our veterinarian can easily diagnose conjunctivitis. During
a thorough eye exam your doc will take samples from
the eye to examine under a microscope. Gently scraping
cells from the eyelid can reveal the underlying cause,
especially in the cases of bacterial and viral conjunctivitis.
Corneal staining can rule out corneal abrasion or ulcer as
a cause of red, watery eyes and help definitely diagnose
conjunctivitis. A bacterial culture may also be sent out.
signs + symptoms
Symptoms of conjunctivitis include redness, swelling of
the membranes around the eye, increased discharge from
the eye and itchiness.
Topical medications like eye drops or ointments will get
your pet on the road to recovery in the blink of an eye,
usually within three to five days. Your vet may recommend
an herbal remedy like Euphrasia as an alternative to
corticosteroid eye drops. Euphrasia (Eyebright) is an
herb that has mild antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and
astringent properties. Its effectiveness depends on the
severity of the case, and it should only be used under the
direction of your veterinarian. Frequently, conjunctivitis
recurs. If your pet has persistent problems with eye infections,
there may be an underlying cause, such as incorrect eyelid
conformation, irritating eyelashes or dry eye.
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RUFF GUIDE: eye care
prescription for healthy eyes
Treating a single case of conjunctivitis typically costs about
$90. Because eye conditions often recur, having a pet
insurance plan in place that covers chronic conditions — as
well as hereditary and congenital eye conditions — can
help provide peace of mind when it comes to caring for
your best friend.
Because many different factors can cause conjunctivitis,
there is no single preventive measure you can take to
avoid it. To help your pet escape eye problems, check
his or her eyes regularly for redness, swelling or tearing,
and visit your vet if any symptoms appear.
eye for an eye | other ocular conditions that pester our pets
Conjunctivitis may be the most common condition plaguing our pets’ peepers, but here
are two other frequent offenders to keep an eye out for:
corneal ulcers
Despite being protected by three (yes, three!) eyelids, our pets’ corneas are still prone to scratches and trauma. Common
signs of an injury to the cornea include redness, pain, a blue-ish tint to the eye and squinting. Corneal ulcers are very painful,
and if left untreated, they can worsen significantly and lead to rupture of the eye.
Most of the time, minor scratches and ulcers heal without complications. Your pet will go home with medications, including
eye drops or ointments to prevent infection and help alleviate pain. Your veterinarian will want to see your pet for a recheck
to make sure the ulcer is healing properly. It is important to keep this appointment, even if you think the ulcer is resolved.
Seeing eye to eye with your vet will help prevent future problems!
feline herpes virus
If your cat contends with recurring conjunctivitis, feline herpes virus (FHV-1) may be to blame. Red, swollen, itchy eyes with
increased discharge are the hallmark symptoms, and in some cases, painful corneal ulcers can develop.
After the first infection, most cats will maintain a “latent” infection. About half will have recurring infections as the virus
reactivates spontaneously or in response to stress. Anti-viral medications may be prescribed to treat severe cases, where
the disease can lead to blindness, but there is no cure for latent viral infection, and no preventive treatment for uninfected
cats. Supportive therapy recommended by your vet can shorten the disease’s life, and keep your kitty from seeing red.
meet the expert
kim smyth, dvm is a naturally gifted writer who has authored hundreds of veterinary articles, pet health essays, breed profiles and blogs. She is
the leading contributing expert on Petplan’s Vets for Pets blog.
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for next month’s tip on dental
cleaning, ‘mouthing off!’
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