If your dog is showing signs of eye infection, irritation, or allergies, you might be tempted to grab your own eye drops to help soothe their symptoms. Today our Renton vet team shares some information about conditions affecting dogs' eyes and why over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops for humans aren't the best solution.
The same things that can cause itchiness, redness and discharge in our eyes can affect our dogs as well – so why not use the same treatment? You might be forgiven for thinking that the same eye drops that soothe your own eyes are suitable for your four-legged-friend, but they can be far from helpful in the end.
Common Eye Conditions In Dogs
Although the following list is far from comprehensive, it focuses on conditions that might be treated by eye drops:
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Dry eye, also known as serous conjunctivitis, is the most commonly seen type of pink eye seen in dogs. It shares a number of symptoms with eye infections, including puffy, sticky or wet-looking eyes, squinting, pawing at the affected eye, and yellow or greenish discharge.
There are many things that can cause your pet to develop an eye infection, including irritation due to long hair, conditions affecting the eyelid, allergies, internal conditions (e.g. immune issues), or scratches or injury to the cornea.
Although not frequently seen in dogs, eye infections or conditions due to allergies can be a factor in your pet's discomfort. Allergies affecting dogs' eyes increase in the summer, and symptoms include inflammation, reddened eyes and watery discharge. Allergic reactions can be due to environmental allergens (e.g. scented carpet cleaner), parasites (e.g. fleas) or, much less frequently, food allergies.
Why Shouldn't I Use Human Eye Drops For My Dog?
Although over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops and ointments can soothe uncomfortable symptoms in humans, it is not recommended to use them for dogs without being advised by a veterinarian to do so. Popular eyedrops for itchiness and redness often contain an ingredient called Tetrahydozoline hydrochloride, which narrows blood vessels in the eye. This ingredient is not recommended for animals as it may cause them some harm, especially if ingested. Issues arising from the inappropriate use of human medications on animals could lead to more serious and costly outcomes! Only your veterinarian can examine and accurately diagnose your dog, so the first step is to contact them and book an appointment for your pet.
In the meanwhile, are simpler, inexpensive solutions such as creating a simple saline solution and using clean cotton balls to drip the mixture into your dog's eye. If your dog has recently developed eye irritation, try to exclude external causes (e.g. extra dust or heavily scented products, sand or dirt visible in your dog's eye).
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees the medications used in veterinary care, has not approved the use of human eye drops in pets. If your dog requires any kind of human medication, your veterinarian is the only one who knows your pet's unique needs and can advise you in the administration of the drug. Otherwise, it's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog's health and seek expert advice.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.