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Blepharitis in Dogs

What Is Canine Blepharitis?

Blepharitis, characterized by inflammation of the eyelid and its edges, is a condition that can cause discomfort in dogs. While it doesn’t present an immediate threat to a dog’s vision or overall health, it necessitates attention. Most instances of blepharitis require treatment with prescription medication. Therefore, if you notice swelling in your dog’s eyelid, it’s important to promptly seek veterinary care for examination and the development of a treatment plan. Failure to treat blepharitis adequately can lead to severe scarring of the eyelid, potentially impairing its function and increasing the risk of eye injury in the future.


The typical symptoms of blepharitis in dogs encompass:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Hair loss on the eyelid skin
  • Squinting
  • Excessive discharge from the eye (pus or mucus)

Additionally, certain forms of blepharitis may induce itchiness, prompting dogs to attempt to alleviate discomfort by rubbing their faces with their paws or against nearby surfaces. Severe instances of blepharitis can lead to the development of ulcers and sores on the skin.


The causes of blepharitis in dogs can vary:

  • Infection with bacteria, fungus, or parasites can trigger blepharitis.
  • Autoimmune diseases may lead to blepharitis when the body’s immune system erroneously attacks the eyelid tissue.

Certain types of cancer can also be responsible for blepharitis.

  • Among the most prevalent causes of blepharitis in dogs are allergies. These allergies might stem from environmental irritants such as grass, pollen, mold, or dust, or occasionally from the dog’s food.


Veterinarians diagnose blepharitis in dogs by observing signs such as swollen, red, and irritated eyelid skin. To confirm the diagnosis, your veterinarian might suggest plucking a few hairs or collecting skin samples through swabbing or scraping to check for bacteria or parasites. Alternatively, a skin culture may be conducted to identify bacterial or fungal infections. If an autoimmune disease is suspected, the vet may perform a biopsy of the eyelid tissue, removing a small section for examination of abnormalities. Additionally, a positive response to medication can sometimes help confirm a suspected cause.


Treatment for blepharitis in dogs focuses on addressing the underlying cause whenever possible. For bacterial infections, treatment may involve topical or oral antibiotics, along with topical or oral anti-inflammatory medications to alleviate pain and inflammation. Similarly, fungal and parasitic infections are managed with anti-fungal medications and parasiticides, respectively. Cleansing the eyelid skin with safe-for-the-eye cleansers is beneficial for treating infectious cases of blepharitis.

Autoimmune-induced blepharitis requires medications that suppress the immune system. This form of therapy necessitates lifelong continuation to maintain disease control. Discontinuing treatment can lead to the recurrence of symptoms.

Allergic causes of blepharitis may be managed with short courses of steroids or medications like cyclosporine for extended therapy. In instances of underlying food allergies, resolving blepharitis may involve changing your dog’s diet and avoiding specific ingredients.

Living and Management

Effective treatment of blepharitis in dogs leads to rapid symptom improvement. Dogs experiencing infectious causes of blepharitis typically respond well to appropriate medication and are not prone to future complications. However, when blepharitis stems from autoimmune disease or allergy, pets often require ongoing medical therapy to manage symptoms effectively in the long term.

Blepharitis in Dogs FAQs

How long does dog blepharitis last?

Blepharitis typically shows improvement within a few days of initiating the appropriate therapy. Most clinical signs are usually completely controlled after two weeks of treatment. However, autoimmune and allergy-related forms of blepharitis may necessitate prolonged therapy, or symptoms may reoccur.

What is the quickest way to cure blepharitis?

The quickest way to cure blepharitis is through specific, targeted therapy. This involves having your veterinarian conduct diagnostic testing to identify the underlying cause of the inflammation (swelling).

How can you treat blepharitis in dogs at home?

Blepharitis treatment at home should be carried out under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. It’s crucial to carefully select topical cleaners and medications to prevent damage to the nearby cornea and ocular surface (the eye’s outer layer). Failure to seek prompt treatment for blepharitis can lead to permanent scarring of the eyelid skin and the surrounding area.

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