Risk Analysis: Can Dogs Transfer Pink Eye to Humans?

Can Dog Pink Eye Transfer To Humans

My dog had a present that he didn’t wish for on his last birthday. He woke up in the morning with conjunctivitis or pink eye as most dog owners would call it.

I’m sure my dog’s eye was making him irritable that day as he wasn’t in the mood to celebrate his birthday. But thankfully he got better with some eye drops from the vet.

Humans can suffer from conjunctivitis or pink eyes too. It isn’t a pleasant experience and can make your eyes feel really sore and itchy.

But should you be concerned about getting pink eye from your dog?

Although there aren’t any concrete studies about pink eye being a transferable infection from dogs, it is possible to get pink eye from your dog if you are not careful. There’s no telling if the bacteria or virus that’s causing the pink eye can also infect your eye.

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at what pink eye in dogs is and how you can prevent it from spreading to you.

What Is Pink Eye In Dogs?

Pink eye is basically the inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva which is the tissue that is covering your dog’s eyelids and eyeballs.

When this thin membrane gets infected, it will start to become swollen and red thus giving your dog the ‘pink eye’ look.

Symptoms of dogs with pink eye include:

  • watery and teary eyes
  • excessive itching and scratching
  • crusty or watery discharge
  • swollen eyelid

Basically, your dog’s eyes will look rather messed up. This condition can affect one or both eyes.

Another tell-tale sign when something isn’t right with your dog’s eyes or health is when you see your dog’s third eyelid. It is also possible to see your dog’s third eyelid when it is sleeping.

You might be wondering where on earth could your dog be hiding this special eyelid. It is actually a thin membrane that can be extended from the corner of the dog’s eye.

What Can Cause Pink Eye In Dogs?

Conjunctivitis in dogs can be a tricky one to solve because it can be a problem by itself or a symptom of another health issue.

Some common causes of pink eye include:

  • dry eyes
  • allergies
  • tumor
  • bacterial conjunctivitis
  • viral conjunctivitis
  • infected tear duct
  • ingrown eyelid or eyelash

Is A Dog’s Pink Eye The Same As A Human’s?

There are some similarities between pink eye in a dog and a human. Basically, the symptoms are about the same with the redness, itching and discharge.

Assuming that canine conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection, the culprit in question will most likely be Staphylococcus or Streptococcus.

Staphylococcus and Streptococcus are the main pathogens of bacterial conjunctivitis in humans as well.

Does This Mean That You Can Get Pink Eye From Your Dog?

pink eye in humans

If your dog’s conjunctivitis is caused by either one of the above bacteria, then yes. The risk or probability of you getting the same eye infection from your dog is high.

But if the pink eye is caused by the dog’s own allergies or a virus that can only use a dog as a host, then the chances of getting it from your dog are very low.

Another incident that I heard from a dog owner was that her husband got pink eye from their new puppy.

The mode of transmission wasn’t something that I ever imagined.

Apparently, this puppy of theirs was sniffing around in the cat’s litter box and happened to eat a piece of cat poo.

Not realizing what has happened, the husband allowed the dog to lick his face and in the process of doing so got some nasty bacterial or viral infection in his eye.

The puppy too came down with pink eye as it must have licked its paws and rubbed its face with it. The whole incident came to light after they took a look at the security cam footage in the house.

So you might wana think twice about letting your dog lick your face if it likes messing around with cat poop.

Use gloves or wash your hands thoroughly when touching your dog’s face. Do not have any direct contact on your face or let the dog sleep on your dog or couch for now.

Is Dog Conjunctivitis Contagious To Other Dogs?

puppies playing

Non-infectious conjunctivitis caused by allergies, foreign bodies, etc can’t be spread to other dogs at home. But there is a risk of transmission if the pink eye is caused by a bacteria or virus.

The first thing that you need to do is to isolate the infected dog in a room by itself.

Make sure to wash, clean and disinfect all common surfaces and fabrics that your dogs share. This is to kill off the pathogens and prevent them from spreading to your other dogs.

How To Treat Pink Eye In Dogs?

Although pink eye isn’t a serious medical condition, it isn’t one that can go away on its own without any medical treatment.

The faster you get your dog to the vet for an examination, the faster you can stop it from spreading to you and the other pets.

Given that pink eye can be caused by many medical reasons, the vet will do a proper eye examination and carry out a swap test.

If there are other symptoms involved, a full blood test is necessary to ascertain the root cause.

For most dogs, pink eye can be cured with antibiotic eye drops or topical steroidal creams. The vet will also ask you to clean your dog’s eye a few times a day with warm water or saline solution to get rid of all the gunk and discharge.

It should take about 3-4 weeks of medication for the pink eye to get resolved and go away.

Please do not use eye medications that are meant for humans as they can do more damage to your dog’s sensitive eyes.

Pink Eye Isn’t Cherry Eye

dog with cherry eye

I know that these two medical issues of a dog’s eye sound very similar but they affect different parts of the eye.

Pink eye affects the membrane covering the eye and eyelids whereas cherry eye only affects the tear gland of the dog’s eyes. The tear gland sits at the innermost corner of the eye and can start protruding out when inflamed.

Your dog will look like it has a small fleshly bump sticking out from the corner of its eye. Similar to pink eye, cherry eye can affect one or both eyes.

Certain breeds of dogs are more predisposed to getting cherry eye.

These dog breeds include:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Boxers
  • Beagles
  • Shih Tzus
  • Saint Bernards
  • Boston Terriers
  • Bulldogs

Cherry age is also more common in older dogs and can be caused by an infection.

Infections That We Can Get From Dogs

As dog owners, we don’t really think twice when it comes to having our dogs lick us or washing our hands after touching them.

Not to cause any undue panic but studies have shown that our pets can pass certain diseases and infections to us.

These are called zoonotic diseases which means that they can be passed from animals to humans. Suffice to say, I know of many dog owners who are totally fine, myself included.

The common zoonotic diseases are:

  • Ringworm
  • Roundworm
  • Hookworm
  • Tapeworm
  • Scabies
  • Rabies
  • Mites
  • Salmonellosis

The group of individuals at risk are those with compromised immune systems, the young and the elderly.

If you belong to this group, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up your pet, definitely not. But you will need to exercise more caution especially if your dog is ill and always make sure to wash and sanitize your hands if you have been playing with your dog for a period of time.

It is best to not handle your dog’s feces and urine directly. Always use gloves or a pooper scooper.

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