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At Home Care for a Dog Eye Stye

Did you know that dog eye styes are actually rare?

If the veterinarian suspects your dog has one, he/she may take a bacterial culture for confirmation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that could be happening with your dog’s eyes.

What looks like an eye stye could be something entirely different!

This post is designed to identify other possible causes of eye infections. Learn common causes of eye infections and what to do about them.

What Is a Dog Stye

Dog eye stye infections are small, painful lumps that develop on the eyelid. Essentially, they are a type of bacterial infection caused by the contagious bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This same bacterium can cause heart valve infections, pneumonia, and bone infections.

This bacterium is spread through direct contact, through air droplets, and by touching a contaminated surface.

The reason dogs and humans develop styes has to do with the meibomian glands. The glands secrete an oily substance that keeps the eyes moist. Meibomian glands are located around the rim of the dog’s eyelid.

Styes are Painful!

If the Meibomian glands get infected, they will swell into a painful growth. These growths can occur on or inside your dog’s eyelid. When these growths occur on the outside of the eyelid, they are known as hordeolums.

What Causes Eye Styes?

Eye styes are caused by bacterial infection. They are sometimes caused by a compromised immune system or an overgrowth of bacteria. In some cases, eye trauma can lead to this infection.

Other common causes of eye infections in dogs include:

  • Distemper
  • Herpes
  • Hepatitis
  • Canine influenza
  • Tick-related diseases
  • Scratch on the cornea
  • Environmental irritants
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Cancerous tumor

Symptoms of Dog Eye Styes

Dogs can develop styes (although rare) on the inner and outer side of the eyelid. The symptoms of this infection may not be the same from dog to dog. However, a few common symptoms might include:

  • Pawing at the eyelid
  • Squinting from the affected eye
  • The dog might attempt to rub the eye on the floor or furniture
  • You might see redness in the eye
  • The eyelid might be swollen
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Inflammation of the eyelids

Common Conditions That Could be Mistaken for a Dog Eye Stye

General Eye Infection

Dogs can get irritated or mildly infected eyes from any number of things. All it takes is a little rough play with another dog or a gust of wind blowing debris into his eyes. 

If bacteria are present, your dog’s eyes will likely have discharge. You will notice your dog pawing at his eyes and squinting. He might be sensitive to light and have red eyes.

Mild eye infections are generally nothing to worry about unless the condition is coming from something less obvious.

The only way to make sure there’s nothing more serious brewing is to take your dog to the veterinarian.

In-Growing Eyelid 

In-growing eyelids, also known as “entropion”, occur when the eyelids fold inward. This condition affects puppies and older dogs. 

A type of surgical treatment called “eyelid tacking” trains the eye to continue growing properly after surgery.


A chalazion, also known as a Meibomian cyst, is less common than styes but can cause other health problems. This eyelid condition is primarily caused by inflammation of the eyelid’s oil glands.

These make the outside of the eyelid look swollen. In fact, you might feel a lump inside. Although it’s not as painful as a stye, it will continue to grow.

These are a little harder to identify because they are not painful. As a result, your dog may not show any signs that would indicate a problem.

You may not notice anything until there is visible inflammation.

Meibomian Gland Adenomas (MGA)

These are benign age-related tumors of the eyelid. They occur as a result of the accumulation of glandular material.

Unfortunately, a large growth can cause irritation to the eye causing corneal ulcers and conjunctiva.

Third-Eye Prolapse (Cherry Eye)

Take a minute to look into your dog’s eyes. Watch him blink. There! Did you see it? There’s a white membrane on the inside corner of the eyes called the third eyelid.

You might notice it slide up and down slightly when your dog blinks. That is the third-eyelid.

Problems with this third eyelid affect puppies between 6 and 12 months of age. One condition called Third Eye Prolapse, or Cherry Eye, happens when that membrane becomes inflamed and red.


This condition is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. Initially, the condition may not be obvious to you. Your dog might scratch or paw at his eyes, which is a good indication that something isn’t right.

Get him to the veterinarian before those eyes become red and swollen. The veterinarian will give you some antibacterial drops which should take care of the problem quickly.

Juvenile Pyoderma

In puppies, the swelling of this condition can look like a stye. Small abscesses may form on the eyelid.

Ingrown Eyelash

Occasionally, an ingrown hair or eyelash can cause an inflammation that resembles a stye.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Canine corneal squamous cell carcinoma is a rare tumor. Dogs with chronic inflammatory conditions of the cornea, including corneal ulcers, may be risk factors for developing this type of cancer.

Pink Eye

Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis and is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin mucous membrane covering the front of the eye. It lines the inner surface of the eyelid.

How to Treat an Eye Stye with Home Remedies

Assuming you’ve seen the veterinarian and a diagnosis has been made, there are many things you can do at home to help reduce your dog’s discomfort.

 Apply Warm Cloths or Warm Compresses

Gently apply a warm cloth or compress to the affected eye. This may help relieve some pain and will soften the stye and perhaps speed up the healing process. Use a soft washcloth to gently bath the dog’s eye.

Simply soak a clot in warm water. Ring out excess water and gently hold on your dog’s eye for as long as he/she will allow it.

Artificial Tears

Use artificial tears to help wash away natural irritants and bacteria. Artificial tears are over the counter eye drops that work great to clean and lubricate the surface of the eye. It also prevents dry eye.

Artificial tears help to keep the tear film moist. They are great at washing away debris.

Use the artificial tears in combination with the warm compress 4 to 6 times a day and watch for signs of improvement. If no improvement is seen, your dog should be examined by a veterinarian.

Topical Antibiotics – Eye Drops

In some cases, a veterinarian may suggest antibiotic ointment.These might be prescribed or purchased over-the-counter. Sometimes medicated eye washes or ointment can help clear up infection. In addition, a veterinarian may prescribe an oral antibiotic. Other options include cortisone.


In some cases, dog eye styes won’t go away on their own. If the course of washing, compress application and medication doesn’t work, the veterinarian might want to surgically remove it.

The treatment plan could involve surgical excision with a sterilized scalpel. This process involves sedating the dog so that the doctor can easily access the eye.

The procedure requires general anesthesia.

Summing it Up

The good news is that most styes will improve on their within a few days. Medical treatment may not even be necessary.

As part of the healing process, the stye will eventually rupture. Pus may lead around the eye but that can easily be wiped away. You may choose to use a sterile saline solution for that.

It’s important to note that a stye should never be popped. It will naturally burst on its own.

READ NEXT: The Ultimate Dog Seizure Bible

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