If your dog is as in-your-face as mine, you likely spend a lot of time looking into his/her eyes. Dog eye stye infections are small, painful lumps that develop on the eyelid. A dog stye is pretty common but easily misdiagnosed by pet owners.
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I’m sure you notice the minute something isn’t quite right with your dog. It’s easy to shrug off a variety of conditions as minor, but are you sure you’re making the “right” diagnosis. Unless your dog sees a veterinarian, how can you be sure exactly what’s wrong?
Dog eye stye infections are fairly common, but how do you know that little bump isn’t something else? Well, stick around. I’m going to show you how NOT to mistake a dog stye for something more serious.
A Dog Eye Stye is no Different Than a Human Stye.
Dog styes are small, painful lumps that develop on the inside or outside of the eyelid. They are caused by bacterial growth and are usually (at least for me) treatable at home. I use an over-the-counter antibacterial eye drop and it clears up quickly.
The problem with diagnosing a dog eye stye is that you might be wrong. Dogs are prone to any number of eye conditions that could easily be mistaken for something else. This is true in the initial stages of infection before symptoms become full-blown.
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 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. In the Twitter image below, the veterinarian is treating a patient who has an in-growing eyelid.
3 Canine Eyelash Disorders:
There are 3 eyelash disorders that some dogs are prone to.
a) Eyelashes grow inward.
b) Eyelashes grow from an abnormal spot on the eyelid.
c) Eyelashes grow through the inside of the eyelid.
If you own a pure breed, you probably already know the types of diseases and conditions that can affect him/her. Certain breeds (for example, English cocker spaniel, pugs, bulldogs, golden retrievers, and toy poodles) are more prone to these types of eyelash disorders.
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. You might notice it slide up and down slightly when your dog blinks. That is the third-eyelid.
Problems with this third eye-lid 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.
Treatment involves warm compresses and medicated eye ointment to reduce the inflammation.
The Twitter image below shows a typical dog with a case of cherry eye. Notice how red that bottom eyelid is. Ouch!
This condition is an inflammation and irritation of the eyelids. 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.
Meibomian Gland Tumors:
These tumors are almost always benign. The problem is that the lesions, if left untreated, may continue to grow. That growth can eventually cause damage to the dog’s eyes from the constant irritation. Corneal ulcers or infection can develop. Surgery is recommended in this case.
Have you noticed your dog’s adorable eyelashes? That part of the eye is the outermost layer. The middle layer beneath is primarily connective tissue, muscles, and glands. The meibomian gland excretes the oily film designed to keep the eyes moist. These glands drain out along the sides of the eyelids.
I’m sure you can see why the initial signs of canine eye conditions might be mistaken for a mild irritation or the beginnings of a dog eye stye.
While I don’t rush to the veterinarian the minute I notice some eye irritation, I do keep a close eye on it.
I gently wash my dog’s eyes with a warm cloth and look for signs of redness and discharge. If the problem hasn’t cleared up within a day or two, I contact my veterinarian and make an appointment.
How to Manage Dog Eye Stye Infections
Try to stop your dog from pawing at his or her eyes. An Elizabethan collar is the best solution. I know…I can’t stand to see my dog wearing one, but it’s for his own good.
There are other options you can buy including products that look like neck braces. The problem with these options is that they don’t prevent your dog from pawing at his face. You need the hard plastic of an Elizabethan collar for that.
In the video below, a senior dog is being treated for an infected dog stye.
Now that you have the information, you should have a pretty good idea what to look for when your dog’s eyes begin to appear irritated.
Sometimes it really is just a piece of dirt or dust. Some eye drops and a gentle eye wash should do the trick. Redness, inflammation, and off-color discharge should be an indication that the help of a veterinarian is required.
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