We all know someone who is affected by hay fever in Spring

Sales of anti-histamines skyrocket in the season of high pollen counts, wind and sun. Unfortunately, the same pollen that irritates our eyes can also affect our furry friends. Allergic conjunctivitis is a common cause of red, mucky eyes in dogs and whilst this condition may not be an issue for the rest of the year, Spring and Summer tend to be the worst seasons for it. Symptoms include, reddening of the white of the eye, third eyelid and inner lining (conjunctiva) of the eyelids. There will often be increased tearing and mucky discharge. The dog may be rubbing at its eyes with its paws or on the carpet.

As allergic conjunctivitis can look like many other (more sinister) eye diseases, a diagnosis can only be made after ruling out all other causes of red, mucky eyes.

Treatment involves the careful use of anti-inflammatory eye ointment or drops to control the condition (it cannot be cured, just as your hay fever can’t be). Keeping pets inside on days with high pollen counts can help as can flushing the eyes with over the counter human tear replacement drops to remove any accumulation of pollen from the eyelids. Left untreated, allergic conjunctivitis can lead to dry eye as well as corneal ulcer and uveitis through self trauma.

The warmer seasons also brings with them an increase in the UV index as the clouds disappear and the sun warms us. UV rays can play havoc with many immune mediated eye conditions such as pannus and solar blepharitis. Dogs with these conditions are usually prescribed specific medications to control inflammation but reduced exposure to UV rays is also crucial. This can be achieved by keeping them indoors but when the outdoors calls for a walk or other activity doggles can be used to protect the eyes and eyelids. Most dogs will tolerate them with some training!