There are many eye infections that can cause irritation to the eyelid. While it’s relatively rare for the eyelid itself to become infected, there are many symptoms that may indicate an underlying condition of the eye. If you suspect your dog has an eye infection, you should have it examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent damage to the eye, and in extreme cases, blindness.
Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as "pink eye," is one of the most common canine eye diseases. While conjunctivitis is not an infection of the eyelid, it can cause the eyelid to become inflamed. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses or allergies. Additional symptoms of conjunctivitis include a pink to reddish coloring of the whites of the eyes, swelling and discharge which may vary in color. Treating pink eye is relatively easy and usually involves antibiotics or a topical cream to remove the infection.
Blepharitis is an infection of the edges of the eyelids. The infection can cause red eyelids that are swollen and crusty. Additional signs of blepharitis include discharge, eyelid spasms, inflammation and hair loss. Blepharitis is sometimes difficult to treat. Treating blepharitis usually takes two to three weeks. Use the medications exactly as directed by your veterinarian.
Cherry eye occurs when the third eyelid of the dog (the area of the eye in which the tear gland is located) becomes inflamed. The inflammation occurs in the corners of the eye and the gland becomes swollen and visible. This condition can occur in almost any breed, but some breeds such as the beagle or the bulldog are more prone to developing cherry eye than others. In reoccurring cases of cherry eye, the gland can be removed, however there is a high risk of the dog developing dry eye. Dry eye is treated easily with eye drops.
Leishmania is a disease that is transmitted through sand flies. One form of leishmania, known as cutaneous leishmaniasis, affects the eyelids. This form causes small red pimples on the margins of the upper and lower eyelids. It can cause conjunctivitis and in severe cases where it goes untreated, it can cause blindness.
Better known as eye worms, thelazia can cause can swelling, conjunctivitis, excessive tearing or other discharge and in extreme cases it may cause cataracts and ulcers. These parasites can usually be seen with the naked eye, making diagnosis relatively easy. Treatment for thelazia consists of medications applied to the eye containing imidacloprid and moxidectin or Interceptor (milbemycin oxime). Most dogs respond within the first two weeks to treatment.