Eye infection in the newborn pup

Eye ailments – continued

A couple of months ago, the Pet Corner column addressed the issue of Conjunctivitis – that inflammatory process of the membrane which covers the inner side of the eyelids and part of the surface of the eyeball.

I described a Serous Conjunctivitis (when the discharge from the eye is clear and watery) and a Purulent Conjunctivitis, if the discharge is thick and yellow (pus) with the formation of crusts which paste the eyelids together.

I forgot to mention that newborn pups, whose eyelids have not yet opened, can also experience a Conjunctivitis. A few days ago, I was presented with a case (or cases) in which the entire litter of puppies had this Neonatal Conjunctivitis. And, as fate would have it two days later, a pet lover presented several kittens of the same litter with their eyes pasted shut.

pet cornerPuppies’ and kittens’ eyelids remain closed for about 10 – 12 days after birth. Note well: we are dealing with Biology here, so don’t be surprised if you have a set of puppies whose eyes don’t open even after two weeks have elapsed. There is no die-hard rule which says that the eyes must open on the 10th or 12th day. In fact, I can remember that as children (curious as all kids are) we used to pry the eyelids open. I wonder how many kittens’ eyes we damaged by this terrible act. Please educate your children to leave the puppies’/kittens’ eyelids alone.

Sometimes germs (bacteria) find a way to get behind the closed eyelids and multiply in the gap behind the eyelids. The bacteria can, of course, also enter this area via the blood stream. Once the bacteria have arrived in this space the newborn’s defence mechanism kicks in and we have a fight between the young animal’s immune system and the germs. The pus debris (dead germs and dead defending white blood cells) which accumulates together with the general inflammatory process which is raging would result in the affected eye area being swollen (soft, puffy) and red. As the pus production increases, some will ooze out and form a crust (paste up) on the closed eyelids. Allow me to emphasise that all discharges from the newborn’s eyes must be considered abnormal and a cause for alarm.


The treatment, first of all, is geared at releasing the mess which has accumulated behind the sealed eyelids. Your vet would therefore have to prise the eyelids apart (gently) to allow the pus to escape. You must then ensure that the lids do not close up again. In order to prevent the closure, constant washing with a sanitising solution (one of the commercial eye drops eg Optrex, Optone, Eye-Eze, etc) or with a home-made preparation of boric acid crystals (to be had from any pharmacy) and boiled water. Let 10 mls (two teaspoons) of the sterilised water cool before adding a pinch of the crystals. Apply the wash several (at least four) times daily.

Notice that I have not advised that you buy antibiotic eye drops for usage in this condition. I just don’t believe in the use (misuse, abuse) of antibiotics for relatively simple ailments which can be countered and healed by the body’s own defence system. If you are not making headway with the treatment regime as described above, your veterinarian may wish to advise about further therapy.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-Heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead.  If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.


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