Conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation of transparent lubricating mucous membrane that covers the eyeball and under-surface of the eyelid, known as conjunctiva. It is also known as pink eye as the eyes bear a red or pink cast (as the inflammation gives a more prominent look to the blood vessels). Interestingly, conjunctivitis in dogs is not much different from what it is in humans.
Causes of this eye problem in dogs include viral or bacterial infections, corneal diseases, infections of the eyelids, issues with the tear ducts, parasites harboring the eyelids or conjunctiva, or invasion of foreign substances, like fibers, sand, chemicals, etc. Allergies, trauma, and certain kinds of skin disorders may also trigger conjunctivitis in canines. While these are the common causes, in some cases, the condition has no known causes.
Symptoms that might indicate that your dog has contracted conjunctivitis include swelling and redness of the white portion of the eyes, discharge from the eyes which may be watery or pus-filled, excessive blinking, and rubbing of the eyes with paws. It is obvious that your pet will not be able to convey the feeling of discomfort he is experiencing. So, the onus is on you to watch out for all such symptoms and take care of things at the earliest.
As for the treatment, it primarily revolves around the management of symptoms and underlying cause of the condition. The first thing to do, is to carry out a thorough irrigation of the eyes in order to get rid of any foreign substances. If any disorder of the tear ducts is the cause of this problem, then your dog would be put on medicines prescribed by a vet. Medicines are also required in cases of infection of the eyelids. However, if it does not respond as expected, then the vet may recommend surgical intervention.
In case of conjunctivitis, the risk of a secondary bacterial infection in your pet cannot be ruled out. To counter this problem, your pet might be put on a course of antibacterial eye ointment. To deal with inflammation of the conjunctiva, anti-inflammatory medicines will be prescribed.
If you notice any of the symptoms described above, wash your dog's eyes with a sterile eye irrigation solution. Make the solution lukewarm before using it. You can also use a clean wash cloth, soaked in lukewarm water, for cleaning the corners of the eyes. In this manner, you can clean away the excess discharge that has accumulated in the eyes. If you notice something that appears to have gotten stuck in your dog's eye, it would be wise to consult a vet, instead of taking matters in your own hands.