How to Find Out If Your Dog or Cat Is Suffering From an Eye Infection & What to Do?

Your pet can get an eye infection even when you are least expecting it. The initial symptoms might be hard to notice, and we only see it when there is redness or swelling in the eye.

But both of the symptoms can be caused by allergies, injuries, or irritation as well. So how can you be sure if it is an infection? 


Many symptoms can indicate that your dog has an eye infection. As we discussed before, an infection can cause redness in the eye. But it will also be accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms.


There would be continuous discharges from your cat’s or dog’s eye. The type of discharge can tell you what is wrong with your pet’s eye.

  • If the discharge is clear, it can be a viral infection.
  • Dry eye disease will have a cloudy or yellowish discharge.
  • If the infection is bacterial, there will be a thick, yellowish-green discharge that looks like pus.


Dry eyes can cause your pet to squint or blink repetitively.


You may notice your pet pawing at its eye constantly. 

Swelling in the Eyelid

One or both of your pet’s eyelids might get swollen. Eyelids can get swollen due to multiple reasons other than eye infection, such as injury, ulcer, or cherry eye. 

The symptoms are usually caused because the dog’s immune system is trying to fight the infection.

If you notice one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, take your dog or cat to the vet immediately. A veterinary doctor will be able to diagnose if there is an infection, or there is any other problem.

Causes of Eye Infection

Your pet’s eye infection can be due to two reasons, viral or bacterial. A bacterial infection is the more common of the two. Your pet’s eyes have a very efficient cleaning mechanism.

They form a tear film to protect the eye from infections. So a bacterial or viral infection can have underlying problems that need to be diagnosed by a veterinary doctor.

Most often, the reason is either an injury or an ulcer. Your pet’s eye might have gotten scratched while playing. The wound might get an infection. The scratch is often on the cornea, which makes it difficult to see. 

Bacterial infection can be due to foreign bodies entering your pet’s eyes, such as dirt or hair. These foreign bodies can carry bacteria or viruses that might infect your pet’s eye.

Dirt or hair can also get lodged under your pet’s third eyelid and cause infection or irritation if it does not get removed automatically. Sometimes the eyelid can turn inwards can cause an infection in your pet’s eye.

Some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to it. Bacterial infection can also be due to a tumor in the eye. 

What to Do?

The first thing you should do is take your pet to the veterinary doctor. A vet will be able to diagnose if it is an infection and the underlying reason for it. The veterinary doctor will also prescribe medicines accordingly.

The most commonly prescribed medicine is Neomycin Polymyxin Dexamethasone eye ointment for pets suffering from an eye infection. The ointment has three active ingredients. The first two are neomycin and polymyxin B, which are antibiotics.

Polymyxin B is responsible for killing the bacteria, while neomycin ensures that the infection does not grow any further. Dexamethasone helps in reducing the inflammation, redness, and swelling of your pet’s eye. It also helps in reducing the pain and irritation caused by the infection. 

In most cases, the ointment needs to be applied once every eight to twelve hours. If you do not see signs of improvement within 48 hours of the first application, contact your veterinary doctor who prescribed the medicine.

Make sure you discuss your pet’s allergies before the vet prescribes the medication. The doctor will suggest alternative medicines if your dog or cat is allergic to any of the active ingredients.

The ointment is also not suitable for pets that are pregnant or nursing. It is only suitable if the infection is bacterial. The veterinary doctor will prescribe alternative medicine if the infection is due to a virus. 

Your vet might also prescribe a non-medicated saline solution to rinse your pet’s eyes. Sterile saline solutions can be used to wash out discharges and clean your pet’s eyes.

Human eye drops should not be used as they might be harmful to your pet’s eyes. You can also try a warm compress to provide comfort to your pet’s eyes. Eye infections are easily treatable but can cause further medical complications if it is left neglected.