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What is Cockapoo Conjunctivitis?

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If you’re looking for constant companionship, you can’t beat a Cockapoo. These lovable dogs will love you back tenfold. They are also intelligent, highly trainable and stars of the agility course.

Cockapoo Conjunctivitis Explained

If your favorite lap buddy is a Cockapoo, keep in mind that they do have a genetic predisposition for conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye. They get this from both sides of their proud heritage. This is because both Poodles and Cocker Spaniels have a congenital tendency to this condition.

Conjunctivitis is an infection of the mucous membrane which covers your dog‘s eye and eyelids. This membrane is called the conjunctiva. It acts as a barrier against infections and foreign objects. An infection causes this membrane to become inflamed and irritated and can be very uncomfortable for your pup.

Causes of Conjunctivitis in Cockapoos

Sometimes conjunctivitis in Cockapoos has a direct cause. Direct causes include obstructed tear ducts, which can cause inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eye, tumors in the eye region, or irritation from an object that has gotten into your Cockapoo‘s eye. Eye injuries are another direct cause of conjunctivitis. The most common causes of eye injuries in dogs include riding in a car with their head out the window, scratches caused by tree branches, rubbing at their eyes, fights with other animals, abnormal growth of eyelashes, and dangerous projectiles such as fireworks.

Infectious Conjunctivitis

Sometimes an infection may be the underlying cause of conjunctivitis in your Cockapoo. The infection may be viral, such as a viral respiratory infection. A respiratory infection can cause conjunctivitis because it creates dog eye discharge. Viral conjunctivitis can also be caused by a more serious illness called canine distemper.

Canine distemper attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. It can also be found in wildlife such as foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and skunks. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted through airborne exposure or shared food and water bowls. Mother dogs can also pass the virus through the placenta to their puppies.

Canine distemper is a very serious illness. Symptoms start with a pus-like discharge from the eyes, then develop into a fever, coughing, and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system, an infected dog can develop neurological problems such as seizures or even paralysis. The good news is there is a vaccine against this disease, so keep up on those shots!

Another form of infectious conjunctivitis is bacterial. The bacteria responsible for this form of conjunctivitis are usually canine brucellosis, leptospirosis, and such tick-borne diseases as canine ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease. Bacterial conjunctivitis is also contagious, so if you have other pets, don’t let them share water bowls or bedding, and keep them apart until your vet tells you the infectious period is over.

cockapoo dog sitting on table

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is another possible underlying cause of your Cockapoo‘s conjunctivitis, and as both Poodles and Cocker Spaniels have a genetic predisposition for this condition, it deserves special consideration. Glaucoma results from an imbalance in the production and drainage of fluid in the eye. This causes a buildup of fluid that increases pressure on the eye. This pressure can create a lot of pain for your Cockapoo. If untreated, the pressure on the eye becomes so great that there can be damage to the optic nerve. This can cause permanent blindness by damaging the retina and optic disk. Signs of glaucoma include redness in the white of the eyes as well as swelling and discoloration of the cornea. If you see these symptoms in your Cockapoo, get them to the vet right away!

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis also deserves special attention, as a predisposition to allergies is another trait shared by both Poodles and Cocker Spaniels. Allergic conjunctivitis is most often caused by environmental allergies, such as pollen, mold, or dust. If your dog is sensitive to these allergens, this can easily lead to conjunctivitis.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is another possible cause of your Cockapoo‘s conjunctivitis and another condition to which Cocker Spaniels are prone. Dry eye is inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues from drying of the eye. It results from inadequate production of the watery part of the tear fluid. Tears are required to lubricate the cornea and remove any debris or infectious agents that may contact the eye.

There are various conditions that can lead to inadequate tear production. It can result from immune-mediated diseases that damage the tear-producing glands. It can also be caused by the canine distemper virus, certain medications, hypothyroidism, or an inner ear infection. Signs of dry eye in your Cockapoo include painful, red, and irritated eyes, squinting, blinking excessively, or holding the eyes shut.

How Conjunctivitis Can Affect Your Cockapoo

Conjunctivitis can be quite uncomfortable for your Cockapoo. However, with the proper veterinary care, most dogs make a full recovery. Early treatment is essential for avoiding complications. In rare cases, dogs can be left with scarring on the eye and vision problems if conjunctivitis is not properly treated.

Life Expectancy of a Cockapoo With Conjunctivitis

Fortunately, conjunctivitis is not a life-threatening disease. However, its underlying causes can be serious, particularly dry eye and glaucoma. So at the first signs of this condition, get your pup to the vet right away!

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Signs That Your Cockapoo Might Have Conjunctivitis

Indications that your Cockapoo is suffering from conjunctivitis include pawing at their eye, blinking, squinting, or showing other signs of discomfort. You may see a clear or green discharge from the eye. The eyes may also appear red and swollen, and your pup may have nasal discharge, sneezing, or coughing. Conjunctivitis often starts in one eye and then spreads quickly to the other, or if it’s a case of allergic conjunctivitis or viral conjunctivitis, both eyes can be affected right from the start.

How To Care for and Treat Your Cockapoo for Conjunctivitis

Your vet will determine the best treatment for your Cockapoo‘s conjunctivitis by determining the underlying cause. First, they will do a thorough examination of your pup’s eyes. This usually includes a detailed examination of the surrounding eye structures such as eyelids, eyelashes, and tear ducts. They may also do tear production tests, corneal stain tests to ensure that the cornea is not damaged, and measure the pressure on the eye to check for glaucoma.

If a foreign body is to blame, this will be removed while your dog is under sedation or local anesthetic. If they discover a blocked tear duct, they will remove the blockage surgically and then prescribe appropriate medications for recovery. In either case, your Cockapoo will afterward probably have to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from pawing at their eyes.

Infectious Conjunctivitis

If the cause of your Cockapoo‘s conjunctivitis is viral, treatment is supportive, as there is no cure. Your vet will advise you on how to keep your dog comfortable while they recover. In some cases, your pup may require other care such as fluids, medication to reduce the fever, or medication to treat secondary bacterial infections. You can also ask your vet about the best foods to give them to speed their recovery. (Nothing like chicken soup when you’re sick!)

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Your vet may also suggest quarantine procedures to stop your dog from spreading the virus and might suggest disinfectant solutions to help kill the virus in your home. Just be sure to call your vet before you go and let them know that your dog is showing symptoms of a viral infection. These infections are highly contagious, so you may have to keep your dog outside until the vet is ready to see you to avoid infecting other pets there.

If it happens to be a bacterial infection causing your Cockapoo‘s conjunctivitis, everything above applies, except that your vet will be able to give you medication to fight the infection directly. And remember not to worry, as just like with us, these things run their course in about two weeks.

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Glaucoma

If your vet discovers your Cockapoo is suffering from glaucoma, it is crucial to reduce the pressure on the eye as soon as possible to minimize the chance of irreversible damage and blindness. Your vet will prescribe something to reduce the pain and discomfort caused by this condition and medications to decrease fluid production and promote drainage. Long-term medical therapy is generally required to keep glaucoma under control.

Sometimes surgery is necessary in severe or advanced cases. This will require a visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist. They will use various surgical techniques to reduce the pressure on the eye. In rare cases, the eye may have to be removed. Your vet will also recommend follow-up examinations to make sure that your pup is recovering well from the surgery or to make adjustments to the medications.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergies in dogs tend to develop when they are between 1 and 3 years old. Because there is such an abundance of causes of allergic reactions in dogs, it may take some time to narrow down exactly what is bothering your Cockapoo and causing their conjunctivitis. Your vet can perform various allergy tests, such as a blood test or a simple skin test, where multiple antigens are injected into a shaved part of your Cockapoo‘s skin, to test for a reaction. Skin testing might require sedatives and so is usually done by a board-certified veterinary dermatologist.

Environmental Causes

If your vet determines that you are dealing with an environmental allergy, such as pollen, mold, or dust, the best thing is to reduce your Cockapoo‘s exposure to the allergen. A dehumidifier, or activated charcoal put on the dirt of your house plants, can reduce the humidity in a room and so help prevent mold. An air purifier with a good HEPA filter can help with dust and pollen (it might make you feel better too!), and you might want to limit how much you have your windows open. When it comes to taking your Cockapoo out for a walk, avoid early mornings or afternoons (a great excuse to sleep in!), particularly in the spring, as this is when pollen counts are highest. You can also check a pollen forecast and limit your time outside when the pollen gets too severe.

cockapoo dog sitting in the bushes

Flea Allergies

You might discover that fleas are causing your Cockapoo‘s allergy. Ironically, dogs that develop a flea allergy usually have the least exposure to fleas. If your Cockapoo is allergic to flea bites, the reaction can last for up to a week, so you really have to be meticulous in your flea prevention techniques. Other than the usual flea medications, you might want to increase how often you vacuum and keep your Cockapoo’s bed extra clean; running it through the washing machine in hot water is a sure way to kill fleas. Lint brushing also helps, and you might want to consider treating the bed with a cedar spray or other essential oil that repels fleas.

Food Allergies

Even if your Cockapoo has always eaten the same food their whole life, you can’t rule out the chance of a food allergy, as these can develop at any point in a dog‘s life. If you or your veterinarian suspect a food allergy, you might want to consider changing your Cockapoo‘s diet since food allergies tend to develop with exposure. Wheat, dairy, and beef comprise 80% of food allergies in dogs and so should be avoided.

You might also want to consider a hypoallergenic dog food, as these tend to include less typical proteins, like venison, egg, and duck, as well as less common kinds of fish. They also contain better carbohydrates like potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. If the store-bought hypoallergenic dog foods aren’t cutting it, or if you simply want to be adventurous, you might want to think about cooking for your Cockapoo. You’ll want to consult with your veterinarian first to ensure you don’t miss any essential vitamins and nutrients and to make sure your Cockapoo will have a balanced diet. Once you get the go-ahead from your vet, you may find that making homemade meals for your Cockapoo not only dramatically improves their health but that it is tremendously satisfying as well. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy cooking for their best friend? And once your Cockapoo catches on to what you are doing, they will love watching every stage of the preparation.

Another thing to consider is a so-called “hydrolyzed protein diet,” in which the protein undergoes a special process to reduce it to tiny fragments. The concept is that once the protein is small enough, your Cockapoo‘s immune system won’t recognize it, and so it won’t be able to trigger a reaction.

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Dry Eye

If your vet suspects dry eye is responsible for your Cockapoo‘s conjunctivitis, they will do a tear production test. The most common tear production test is the Schirmer test. This uses a special wicking paper to measure the amount of tear fluid produced in one minute.

If dry eye is diagnosed, they will prescribe a medication to stimulate tear production. You will have to place this in your pup’s eyes once or twice daily. Sometimes your vet will also recommend tear film replacement to keep the cornea moist and healthy, especially during the first part of treatment. This will have to be applied to your Cockapoo‘s eyes every two to six hours. Additionally, your vet may prescribe medications to treat underlying infection and inflammation.

Other than medication, you can also help your pup by gently cleaning their eyes several times a day with a warm, wet washcloth. This will help them feel better and can help stimulate tear fluid production.

If you find you are unable to administer the medication to your dog‘s eyes, surgical correction may be a possibility. This involves repositioning the salivary duct so that it secretes saliva onto the eyes. This is usually done by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Keep in mind that this procedure has some serious risks and so should not be performed unless all other treatments have failed.

Dry eye does require lifelong medical treatment. But with faithful and attentive care, most dogs can enjoy a pain-free life.

How To Help Your Cockapoo Live a Fulfilling Life With Conjunctivitis

The key to helping your Cockapoo live a full and comfortable life is to always spot conjunctivitis right away and get them to the vet as soon as possible for the appropriate medical care. If you find your pup is prone to this condition, there are a few things you can do to try to prevent conjunctivitis in the first place. If foreign objects are to blame, you might want to consider skipping the walk when there is excessive wind, to avoid things blowing into your pup’s eyes. Also, try not to pet your dog too close to their eyes, as your hands may often have some bacteria present. Otherwise, remember the healthier your dog, the better they can fend off infections. So make sure they get plenty of exercise, keep them on a healthy diet, stay current on their vaccinations, and give them lots of love!