Dogs, like humans, can be afflicted by a number of different ailments, and the sensitive eye region is one of the most commonly affected areas. There are a number of different types of eye drops for dogs available to address a variety of problems including conjunctivitis, seasonal allergies, infections, excessive tearing, and staining tears. Drops may also treat cloudy eyes and cataracts or be used to wash foreign matter from the eye. In veterinary care, drops may also be used as a means to diagnose certain conditions. Some of these eye drops for dogs are available over the counter, while some require a prescription from a veterinarian.
For conjunctivitis, in which the membrane surrounding the eyelid lining becomes inflamed, it is best to use prescription antibiotic eye drops for dogs. This issue is commonly caused by an infection and should be treated in a timely manner before it is allowed to spread to the other eye, spread to other pets in the household, or cause permanent eye damage. Any discharge is removed from the eye, and then the drops are administered multiple times a day for up to a week until the infection has cleared. The eyes may also be washed with a canine saline solution to flush out any remaining foreign particulates.
For dogs with seasonal or year-round allergies to pollen, certain foods, grasses and more, allergy eye drops may help to relieve the itching, watering and redness that can make a dog miserable. Many over the counter allergy eye drops for dogs include aloe to soothe sore eyes, in addition to ingredients to moisturize and temporarily reduce itching. Other drops are made with active ingredients, such as sodium hyaluronate, which helps to wash away pollutants, chlorine and particles from the eye.
In some dog breeds, staining of the fur surrounding the eyes can occur due to the dog's tears. There are eye drops available in stores that can prevent this staining from occurring. While this staining can be the result of overactive tear ducts, it is usually harmless and treated only as a cosmetic preference in the dog's owner. Daily use of tear stain eye drops should be discussed with a veterinarian.
Sometimes eye problems can be difficult to diagnose because they cannot be seen with the naked eye or because dogs are resistant to having their eyes examined. Eye drops can be used by veterinarians to make problems easier to identify. The tear test uses a specific drop to determine the level of tear production when dogs are experiencing issues such as dry eyes or excessive tear production. A stain using fluorescent colors is used to diagnose ulcers present on the cornea or to check for small scratches on the eye surface.