Dog Stye Care: How to Keep Its Eyes Healthy

September 20, 2019
A stye is an infection of the eyes that leads to swelling, redness, and irritation. If your dog gets it, it's important to keep it from scratching around the area, because that can make things much worse.

Your dog’s eyes are at risk of being harmed by all kinds of things in the outside world. For example, swelling is a pretty common problem. This is one reason it’s important to learn about stye care for your dog, to keep its eyes healthy!

Many irritating conditions in the eyes don’t involve any serious health problems. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely painful or itchy. They don’t tend to look very pleasant, either.

That’s exactly the case with styes in your dog. This condition can also happen to humans, and it’s annoying, but it’s far worse for dogs. Luckily, knowing a few care tips for a stye can help keep your dog much more comfortable.

What is a stye and what does it do to your dog?

A stye causes irritation and a reddening of the eye, along with swelling in the eyelids. That swelling near the eyelashes is what we’re referring to when we talk about styes. 

An owner cupping their hand under their dog's mouth.

A stye is really just a consequence of a bacterial infection. The specific culprit here is the Staphylococcus bacteria. Styes are generally minor, and don’t create major health concerns.

A dog’s eyes are constantly exposed to their environment. This means that they’re also in constant contact with various microorganisms. Dirty environments and polluted cities are also a major breeding ground for bacteria. 

What are the symptoms of a stye in your dog?

The most obvious symptom of this condition is the bump that will form near its eyelashes. You’ll also notice swelling around the eye, and redness in the whites of its eyes.

A stye will also generally cause a lot of pain and discomfort for your dog. Most dogs will act fidgety and constantly try to scratch around their eyes to deal with it.

In fact, that’s more dangerous than the stye itself. When your dog scratches that area, it could irritate the area even more, helping the infection spread to its tissue. In extreme cases, it can lead to abscesses in the eyes, and the bacteria can spread to other organs.

So, if you spot any of these primary symptoms, you need to start on stye care for your dog. You should also watch over it to make sure it’s not scratching. 

How do you treat a stye in your dog?

The best way to treat a stye is to get to the root of the problem. In other words, you need to kill the bacteria by using antibiotics. A vet will generally prescribe your dog some kind of cream, because it’s easier to apply to the infected area.

But because it’s a relatively minor infection, your vet may choose not to prescribe any antibiotics. Instead, you can focus on reducing the swelling and discomfort as your dog’s body gets rid of the bacteria on its own.

If your dog has a weakened immune system, though, it may not be able to fight off the infection on its own. In this case, your vet will find the right treatment for it.

Tips on stye care for your dog

Keep its eyes clean

Cleanliness is a key part of both preventing and fighting the spread of bacteria. So, you absolutely must keep your dog’s eyes (and the area around them) clean. Our recommendation is to use a cloth soaked in saline solution or boric acid eyewash 3-4 times a day.

You can also use hydrogen peroxide drops in its eyes. That substance is great for killing bacteria, and will also sterilize the area. Just be careful about how much you use. Only give your dog 2-3 drops a day–never more.

Keep its space clean

It’s not just your dog’s eyes that need to be clean. You also need to make sure its areas are clean, especially around its food and water bowls. But don’t use any corrosive cleaning products, or anything else with a strong smell.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile is a great way to soothe discomfort, pain, and restlessness. We recommend dampening a cloth in chamomile tea and applying it for 10-15 minutes. But don’t do this more than 3 times a day.

Cold compresses

Cold compresses can help reduce the swelling and irritation in your dog’s eyes. We recommend applying the cold compress for 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a day.

Doing one before bedtime can also help it get to sleep more easily. A stye can be very irritating when a dog closes its eyes.

Avoid contact with the stye

You should avoid touching the stye. Hands and paws can end up bringing more bacteria to the infected area. But because it can be hard to keep your dog from doing so, it’s usually best to give it a cone.

It’s an even worse idea to try to pop the bump. Not only is that extremely painful, but it could also end up causing the bacteria to spread into its eye and bloodstream.

 

Strengthen its immune system

Another great stye care tip for your dog is to make sure it has a strong immune system. Like we mentioned earlier, there are some cases where you can leave your dog’s body to fight off the infection. But you need to take daily measures to keep it strong. The best way is to give it a balanced diet and keep it hydrated.

Occasional visits to the vet are also crucial, along with proper vaccination and de-worming treatments. This is the best way to go about stye care for your dog. But as always, the best thing you can do is prevent it from happening in the first place, so keep its eyes and environment clean!