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Conjunctivitis in Dogs and Cats

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membranes lining the eyelids in cats and dogs. The conjunctiva serves as a protective barrier for the eye by trapping debris and helping to prevent invasion of viruses and bacteria.

In dogs, the eye infection is commonly associated with allergies, although it can be the result of blocked tear ducts, irritants and corneal problems. Although allergies can result in conjunctivitis in cats, it is usually caused by infectious organisms such as the flu or herpes virus or chlamydia.

Keeping the eye clean and treating the infection are the first steps to take when your dog or cat has conjunctivitis. Eye-Heal from PetAlive contains a combination of herbs and other nutrients for soothing and healing infections of the eyes and conjunctiva.

For overall eye health, the nutrients in Ocu-Clear are unsurpassed for promoting healthy eyes.  

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis in Dogs and Cats

  • Redness
  • Watery and runny or thick green or yellow discharge
  • Swelling of the conjunctiva
  • Squinting or excessive blinking
  • Pawing or rubbing the eyes

Diagnosis

Conjunctivitis is usually diagnosed based on a physical exam, and your vet may perform one or more of the following tests:

  • An examination of the conjunctiva, external eyelids and the third eyelid
  • Fluorescein staining to detect superficial abrasions or ulcers on the cornea
  • Schirmer tear test to determine if your pet is producing sufficient tears

Additional tests may be recommended, such as:

  • Blood tests if your pet is also ill
  • Bacterial cultures
  • Tests for viruses
  • Tonometry, which measures eye pressure (glaucoma test)
  • Conjunctival scrapings to evaluate the cells of the conjunctiva
  • Conjunctival biopsy

Conventional Treatments

  • Wash the eye out to remove any foreign particles.
  • Medication is given for tear production abnormalities.
  • Medication or surgery is given for some eyelid infections and abnormalities.
  • Antibacterial eye ointment is usually prescribed for secondary bacterial infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory eye medication may also be prescribed.

Natural Remedies for Conjunctivitis

Because conjunctivitis is often linked to allergies and viral infections, it is important to strengthen your pet's immune system with antioxidants and other nutrients. CoQ10 is a vitamin-like compound that acts as an antioxidant protecting cells against free radical damage. In humans it has been shown to enhance immune function and rejuvenate the body at the cellular level. It may also provide your pet with the immune support it needs to counteract the underlying cause of its allergy and/or infection.

The following vitamins, botanicals and other nutrients have been shown to fortify the immune system and/or nourish eye tissue:

Vitamins A, C and E have antioxidant properties which fight free radicals that can damage the lens of the eye.

Bilberry extract (Vacciuium myritllus) derived from a fruit similar to the blueberry, contains active ingredients for eye health and proper vision. The berries are rich in the antioxidant anthocyanosides -- the red pigments that are beneficial in ophthalmology and vascular diseases. Nicknamed "the vision herb" bilberry has a substantial body of research that confirms its benefits for human eyes. This herb is very helpful to animals with early stage eye disorders, or for animals that have a genetic predisposition to eye problems.

Zinc is a mineral linked to good vision and may protect eye tissue from damaging light and inflammation. Zinc is found in healthy retinal tissue.

Lutein, a carotenoid found in dark, leafy greens, is also found in the retina of healthy eyes where it acts as a shield against harmful light and may help protect the eyes against damage from ultraviolet radiation.

Quercetin is a natural antioxidant bioflavonoid that protects cells from damage by free radicals.

Astragalus is considered by many to be the most powerful immunity-boosting herb. Astragalus has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects, and works by increasing white blood cell production of your pet's own antiviral compounds alpha-and gamma-interferon—which help protect against viral invasion

Coenzyme Q-10, commonly called CoQ10, is a vitamin-like compound that acts as an antioxidant protecting cells against free radical damage. It exists in every cell of your pet's body, and it could not survive without it. CoQ10 is essential to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which produces energy within the cells and is the basis for normal functioning of all body systems and organs.  Besides being essential to heart health, CoQ10 enhances immune function, and is important to your pet's overall health.