Orange cat laying on his side while a vet gives him an examination.

Eye problems in cats and dogs

Learn the signs of eye inflammation in your pet and what might be causing it

Conjunctivitis in dogs and cats1,2

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane lining your pet’s eyeballs and eyelids. Conjunctivitis can be caused by an infection from bacteria, a virus, or fungus. It can also be caused by allergies, tumors, foreign material in the eye, and other non-infectious conditions.

Common symptoms include1,2:

  • Watering or tearing from one or both eyes
  • Discharge (cloudy or yellow-greenish)

Treatment includes antibiotic or anti-inflammatory drops or ointments, as well as injections or pills.

If your cat is prone to eye infections, you can also consider vaccinating against feline chlamydophila to manage and minimize the clinical signs. Ask your veterinarian about the Nobivac® 1-year vaccination that can protect your cat from this type of eye infection.

Conjunctivitis in puppies3

Young dogs can get conjunctivitis when their eyelids first separate, at about 2 weeks of age. Infection usually is caused by discharge from the mother at birth but can also be caused by surroundings that have not been cleaned well enough.

Topical antibiotic ointments are typically used for treatment.

Dry eye in dogs4

“Dry eye” is the commonly used name for keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). This occurs when over-drying of the cornea and surrounding tissues causes inflammation. Dry eye can be caused by a number of things:

  • Diseases that damage tear-producing glands
  • Infection with canine distemper virus
  • Certain medications
  • Hypothyroidism

Some of the breeds that are more likely to develop dry eye include:

  • Spaniels
  • Terriers
  • Pugs
  • Bloodhounds

Dry eye treatments protect your pet’s cornea by increasing tear production and replacing the tear film. Commonly used medications to treat dry eye include cyclosporine, found in Optimmune® (0.2% Cyclosporine, USP)

Uveitis in cats5

Uveitis is a condition in which the inner pigmented part of your cat’s eye becomes inflamed. It is painful and can lead to blindness.

Cats can get uveitis from an array of diseases, including feline leukemia, herpes virus, fungal infections, and from roundworm and hookworm larvae.

Some common signs to look out for include:

  • Watering or tearing from the affected eye
  • Cloudiness of cornea
  • Redness on the surface of your cat’s eye
  • Small pupil
  • Soft-feeling eyeball when the eyelid is pushed on gently

To treat uveitis, your veterinarian will treat the condition that caused it. Eyedrops can also be used to reduce your cat’s pain.


  1. Conjunctivitis in dogs. VCA Animal Hospitals.
  2. Conjunctivitis in cats. VCA Animal Hospitals.
  3. Eye infection in newborn dogs. PetMD.
  4. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or dry eye in dogs. VCA Animal Hospitals.
  5. Eye infections (uveitis) in cats. Pets WebMD.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: For ophthalmic use in dogs only. The clinical effects of OPTIMMUNE® Ophthalmic Ointment have not been determined in dogs with keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) due to the following conditions: congenital alacrima, sulfonamide usage, canine distemper virus, metabolic disease, surgical removal of the third eyelid gland, and facial nerve paralysis with loss of the palpebral reflex. Safety has not been determined in cases of pre-existing viral or fungal ocular infections, nor in puppies, pregnant bitches, or dogs used for breeding. Withdrawal of OPTIMMUNE® Ophthalmic Ointment therapy resulted in rapid clinical regression indicating the need for long-term continual therapy for almost all cases of chronic KCS. For complete safety information, refer to the product label.

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