Much like in humans, it’s no surprise that eye problems are extremely common issues when it comes to dogs. There are several conditions that can disrupt the way your dog’s eyes function, and, depending on the cause of the problem, your veterinary professional may prescribe eye drops to treat the issue. 

eye drops for dogs

But, what are they, how do they work and why may your dog need them? In this guide, we’ll discuss:

  • Why dogs need eye drops
  • What’s in eye drops for dogs?
  • The different types of eye drops for dogs
  • Eye washes for dogs
  • How to keep your dog’s eyes healthy

Why Dogs May Need Eye Drops

While determining the cause of your dog’s eye problems isn’t always easy, there are a number of reasons why your pet may need eye drops. Here are some common conditions where eye drops might be prescribed to treat your dog.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye, or Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, is a painful condition that prevents your dog from producing tears while also causing their eyes to become extremely dry. The condition is normally caused by issues in the immune system, which causes the body to attack the tear glands.

Common symptoms include:

  • Red eyes
  • Sticky or dry discharge
  • Prone to recurrent eye infections

There are lots of dry eye drops for dogs out there, but our advice is to check with your vet before using any on your pet.

Eye Infections

There are two main causes of eye infections in dogs – bacterial and viral. 

eye drops for dogs

Other than bacteria or virus, if your dog is suffering from an eye infection there are several different causes such as injury, foreign matter like dirt or hair, or irritants such as smoke. 

While infections can vary, common symptoms often include: 

  • Redness
  • Squinting
  • Discharge
  • Pawing at the eye
  • Excessive blinking
  • Eyelid swelling


Also known as pinkeye or red eye, conjunctivitis in dogs is just as common as it is in humans. The condition affects the conjunctiva, or the mucous membrane of the eye, which covers the eyeball and the inside of the eyelid, and acts as a barrier.

There are two main types of conjunctivitis in dogs:

  • Infectious conjunctivitis – which is rare, and caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It’s important to note that infectious conjunctivitis can be spread from your pet to other dogs so if your dog is suffering from the condition, it’s a good idea to keep them separated from other animals
  • Non-infectious conjunctivitis – usually caused by an allergic reaction to pollen or dust mites, irritants in the eye, trauma, unjust or an underlying health conditions

While symptoms will vary, common indicators of conjunctivitis include:

  • Inflammation 
  • Clear or green discharge from the eye
  • Redness
  • Puffiness
  • Squinting

This eye condition is quite common so there are plenty of eye drops for dogs with conjunctivitis on the market. Be sure to check with your vet before you use any.


Just like people, dogs can also suffer from allergies from things they are exposed to in their everyday lives – from cigarette smoke to dust, fleas to mould, allergies in dogs are fairly common and can affect all breeds, ages and backgrounds.

eye drops for dogs

Allergy symptoms can include:

  • Redness
  • Clear, watery discharge
  • Itchiness, or pawing at the eyes
  • Squinting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Swelling


Epiphora, or runny eyes, is a condition that causes excessive tear production. The condition is most commonly caused by irritation to the eye, such as dust or hair, but can also happen as a result of improper tear drainage. 

Symptoms of epiphora include:

  • Watery discharge
  • Excessive tears
  • Skin irritation
  • Reddish stains on the fur from tear pigments called porphyrins

What’s In Eye Drops For Dogs?

A typical ointment for the eyes, eye drops essentially take the place of creams, allowing you to easily administer medication or clean the eye area of your dog, without causing them any pain or harm. The specific ingredients will vary depending on the type of eye drop, along with the condition it is being used to treat.

Different Types Of Eye Drops For Dogs

Your next question is probably going to be “what are the best eye drops for dogs?”

There are two types of eye drops for dogs available: medicated eye drops and unmedicated eye drops. 

eye drops for dogs

Where medicated eye drops will be prescribed by your vet in order to treat more serious eye issues and conditions, unmedicated drops are designed to help clear the eye of debris, and to soothe irritated and sore eyes. We explain the most common types.

Antibiotic Eye Drops For Dogs

If your dog is suffering from a bacterial infection such as conjunctivitis, antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed, as they are designed to stop the growth of bacteria.

While the exact drops your vet prescribes will depend on a number of factors, there are several antibiotic eye drops for dogs with conjunctivitis or pink eye. These include:

  • Chloramphenicol eye drops for dogs
  • Isathal eye drops for dogs
  • Exocin eye drops for dogs
  • Clorogen eye drops for dogs
  • Ciprofloxacin eye drops for dogs
  • Remend eye drops for dogs

Steroid Eye Drops

A type of medicated eye drop for dogs, steroid eye drops are often prescribed to help with swelling and inflammation of the eye. If your dog is suffering from dry eyes, steroid eye drops will be prescribed to decrease inflammation, lubricate the eyes and improve moisture retention.

A type of steroid eye drop, Clorogen eye drops for dogs, may be prescribed if your dog is suffering from bacterial conjunctivitis as it contains an antibiotic to treat infection along with a steroid to reduce inflammation. 

Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory (NSAID) Eye Drops

Prescribed to prevent and treat inflammation, NSAID eye drops are often used to support recovery in a range of eye conditions, from postoperative inflammation to conjunctivitis. Acular eye drops for dogs is one such example of an NSAID eye drop, and is used to treat itchy eyes which are a symptom of allergic conjunctivitis. 

Combined Eye Drops

Sometimes, an antibiotic will be required in order to treat bacterial infection within the eye, while a steroid might also be needed to reduce inflammation, and so a combined eye drop will be prescribed. Maxitrol eye drops for dogs are one such example, and combine two antibiotics and a steroid, making it ideal for treating dry eyes. 

Eye Washes For Dogs

Saline solutions are a popular choice and are commonly used as an eye wash for dogs. They help to clean wounds and clear the eye of any debris or foreign bodies, helping your pet to feel more comfortable, making them perfect if your dog is suffering from allergies. 

Common eye washes for dogs include Nutri-Vet Eye Rinse Liquid, Vetericyn Eye Wash and Burt’s Bees For Dogs Eye Wash.

Keeping Your Dog’s Eyes Healthy

In order for your pet to lead an independent life and to remain happy and healthy, great vision is key. And, while eye problems and conditions in dogs are quite common, there are several things you can do to ensure your pet’s eyes remain healthy and to avoid any future problems.

eye drops for dogs

You should always keep a close eye on your dogs’ overall health, including their eyes, paying particular attention to any changes. You can check the lining of your dog’s eyes by holding their head still and gently pulling back their top and bottom eyelids. They should be clear of any cuts or debris and a pink colour.

Similarly, there are a number of dietary changes you can make to maintain your dog’s eye health and protect them against future problems such as:

  • Blueberries, which contain both lutein and zeaxanthin, two important carotenoids
  • Carrots, which are filled with a whole load of vitamins and nutrients to improve eye health
  • Eggs yolks, which contain lutein and helps to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration
  • Tomatoes, which help to protect the eyes from sun damage

If you’re concerned about your dog’s eye health, it’s important that they are regularly groomed and that any long hair around the eyes is trimmed to prevent matting and any discharge, dirt or debris from building up.  

Can I Use Human Eye Drops On Dogs?

While your dog’s eyes will function much in the same way as ours, there are a number of differences such as a third eyelid, or nictitating membrane or cherry eye, to offer extra protection. 

So, while there are certain types of human eye drops that may be safe to use on your dog, such as artificial tear drops, you should never give any medication to your dog without instruction from a professional. If in doubt, for products that are made specifically for dogs only. 

eye drops for dogs

If you are concerned that your dog is struggling with their eyes or vision, or you think they may benefit from some eye drops, you should always call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

How Can Dogwood Referrals Help? 

The team at Dogwood Referrals offers an exceptional level of care and support for dog owners we treat or meet, and we offer advanced treatments with our specialist knowledge in a variety of conditions and illnesses. 

If you’re a veterinary professional, it’s simple to make a veterinary referral, simply fill in your details online or download our PDF form now.

We hope you found this guide to eye drops for dogs helpful and that it answers all of your questions and concerns with regards to your dog’s eye health. If you need some further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.