Natural approach to treatment of eye infections

by Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM
Three steps to treat eye discharge without antibiotics

Eye discharge is one of the most common problems in dogs. Whenever I see my clients with concerns about their dogs or cats eyes, the first question I ask is what they’re concerned about the most. Most people reply that they’re concerned about infection and their worries make me realize that I need to write a blog to clarify some of these misconceptions.

First, I’m not planning to rediscover the universe here, neither am I eager to make things more complex. What I would like to do today is to bring more clarity into what you may call conjunctivitis, eye discharge, redness or an eye infection.

The anatomy of an eye
Most of the problem conditions that are seen in daily practice relate to the conjunctiva, eyelids and cornea. Conjunctiva is, in fact, the layer of tissue on the inside of the eyelids that connects directly to the cornea, the clear layer covering the eye itself.

The inner structures of the eye are a little more complex. The sequence of the parts of the eye are as follows: cornea, anterior chamber (the space in front of the lens), the iris, the lens that is attached to the eye by a very sophisticated focusing system, called a irido-corneal muscle, then there is the posterior chamber filled with the clear translucent mass called vitreous body and beyond is the retina, the canvas of the eye that is connected to the optic nerve conducting the visual images to the brain’s visual center and the cortex.

The functions of the eye
Most people see the eye as an organ of vision but there is another important function – cleansing. In fact many openings of the body, including the eye, serve as cleansing and detoxification areas. If the body needs to get rid of impurities it does it really well through the eyes, ears, feces, urine, lungs and the saliva.

This cleansing process is usually manifested by increased local inflammation and redness that is often misperceived as an infection. In fact most of the cases that my clients consider an eye infection would in fact be cleansing reactions of the body and nothing to do with bacteria and infections.

This fact is often ignored and the most common conventional prescription for eye redness are, yes, you guessed right, antibiotics and steroids.  It may also surprise you that for majority of cases this medication is unnecessary or even contraindicated.

The most common conditions of the outside structures of the eye are:
  1. Conjunctivitis due to cleansing reaction as a result of detoxification process. The body is simply trying to get rid of toxins, components of food especially if you feed processed food that is not species appropriate or poor quality.
  2. Redness can also occur in the case of digestive imbalances, external irritants and as part of vaccination side effects which are usually manifested by typical greenish pus-like discharge.
  3. Obstruction of the tear ducts that start at the upper and lower eyelid at the inner corner of the eye is also a very common problem and the causes can sometimes be from a little speck of plant material.
  4. Trauma to the cornea which can result in an abrasion or even corneal ulcer is also relatively common
  5. Inverted or extroverted eyelids called entropion or ectropion are common especially in breeds that have suffered the consequences of poor breeding focused on looks. Silly but true.
  6. Infections can also be the result of eye irritation and conjunctivitis, however from my point of view, this is only the case in maybe 10 percent of patients. An infection is a bacterial or viral condition of the eye where the pathogen
Conditions of the infrastructures of the eye

are not necessarily the main topic of this article however I would like to mention them briefly because they often resemble conjunctivitis.

  1. One of the most common problems that is overlooked is glaucoma which stands for a condition where the intraocular pressure increases and threatens the eye and the vision itself. Glaucoma is usually painful and the redness of the eye is more deep and diffused. A proper diagnosis can only be obtained by a thorough examination and the intraocular blood-pressure measurement. This condition can be eye threatening and needs immediate attention.
  2. Some people mistake cataracts with glaucoma, which is a condition that affects the texture and transparency of the lens. Many of my readers often wonder if Skai is wearing his dog goggles – “Doggles” just for fun or fashion and I can’t emphasize enough that he wears them mainly to protect his eyes from UV damage.
Back to eye discharges

I could go on forever listing the different conditions here. However the main purpose of this article is to talk about the 90 percent of all eye conditions which is simple conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjuctiva) and varied eye discharges.

What needs to be done first before we jump to the conclusion of conjunctivitis is a thorough examination. I don’t recommend taking chances and always perform an eye exam personally or have it done by another practitioner if I’m providing advice in a long distance consultation.

A routine eye exam includes ophthalmoscopy, which is a term for light examination of the structures of the eye, fluorescein dye test which rules out any scratches, ulcers or obstruction of cornea and intraocular pressure measurement to rule out glaucoma if your pet is in an obvious discomfort.

If these tests come out negative you can use a very simple treatment that will not cost you a lot of money, neither you need to be  using antibiotics or steroid medications which are commonly overused. If you do  feel the pressure from your veterinarian to use antibiotics, remember  you are in charge of the decision and any vet should be giving you only recommendations, not make you feel guilty because your decision is different than what  he or she would choose.

Beware of a collar that is too tight

I mentioned before that most cases of redness could be related to the cleansing processes. I will repeat once again that the most common causes are from diet, vaccines, imbalances and digestive tract, toxin buildup and the effect of a collar that is too tight.

Yes, believe it or not a collar that is too tight can be a frequent reason for your dog’s eyes to be congested, full of discharge and red. All you need to do to understand this is to grip your neck and tighten your hands around it as if you were trying to strangle yourself. You will  feel the blood stagnation in the head which will decrease drainage of conjunctiva and can cause discharges. Sometimes all we need to do is loosen your dog’s collar so it doesn’t obstruct the cervical veins that drain blood from the head. Many dogs suffer because of the human ignorance,  I put  choke chains, prong collars or  even shock collars medieval torture devices that should only use for demonstration on those people who put them on their dogs.  Harnesses are the way to go.

Holistic approach to treatment of eye discharges

In several of my blogs I have mentioned that healing should be ideally simple. If you see discharges, especially in puppies most of the time means some sort of form of cleansing unless your veterinarian discovers a scratch, corneal ulcer, inverted eyelashes, hair falling in the eyes because it is too long, obstructed tear ducts and other conditions mentioned above.

Most of the time, you can follow these three simple steps:

  1. Rule out a serious eye condition by getting an exam done
  2. Detox, cleanse and neutralize whatever doesn’t  belong in the body naturally
  3. Rebalance and provide what is missing as high quality nutrients, natural vitamins or minerals
Diet deserves special attention

Many people believe that if a bag of processed food is labeled “organic” or natural  it must be good. That is not  true because even  mainstream pet food companies jumped on the bandwagon of natural foods, while the quality and nutritional value of such food is poor. Good quality raw or cooked diet is  the best you can for your animal friend. Healthy digestive tract, the liver and immune system are  the key for reducing eye discharges.

My favorite cleansing formula for most dogs is Livton. 

Rinsing and flushing

Another important part of the cleansing process is helping the body get rid of impurities and toxins through flushing and rinsing the eyes. In fact you do not need a fancy solutions, ointments or even complex herbal preparations for the eyes. What works really well is sterile saline solution with about five drops of Eyebright (Euphrasia tincture) and about three drops of goldenseal (hydrastis) per a cup of saline

Reduce or eliminate vaccination and its side effects
Especially in young dogs I recommend minimum vaccination.  

If your dog has been vaccinated, it is possible that the greenish discharge is in fact related to vaccine side effects. I’ve had countless cases where health issues completely disappeared after administration  of Thuja 200 C. This homeopathic  remedy is known to neutralize the side- effects of vaccines and I usually give 2 doses 12 hours apart.

If these  simple steps do not  resolve the problem I highly recommend to see your veterinarian.

No matter what you do, try not to suppress the immune  system with steroids because they have a long term negative effect on the immune system and the body on a deep level. Using corticosteroids can be compared to removing the light bulbs from your car’s dashboard when your car's engine is overheating.

Provide high quality supplements

Besides a wholesome and complete diet, I recommend providing your dog with what he or she needs; a good selection of high quality supplements .

There is a huge difference between synthetically made supplements and those who were “grown and designed by nature".  Did you know that most of the vitamins on the market  are made from  chemicals? These supplements need to be replaced with natural ones in order to cleanse the body and stop eye discharges from happening.

Here are the supplements that my dog Skai gets:

Essentials for your dog

No matter if you feed organic or non-organic veggies, nutrient, especially mineral depletion is highly likely without additional all natural supplements. Eye discharges may in many cases be a sign of deficiency or the presence of toxic heavy metals Here is what you can do:

  1. Supplement all natural plant based minerals such as GreenMin
  2. Add all natural certified organic multi-vitamin such as SoulFood.
  3. Use GutSense to balance your dogs digestive tract
  4. Other beneficial supplements are omega oils
Find out what is your dog missing
and what the mineral and heavy metal levels are by getting HairQ test done
I can’t emphasize enough that many medical conditions are not what they appear to be. It is definitely that way in many eye conditions labelled as eye infections. All you need to do is to listen the body, observe its patterns and act according the natural principles of healing which are
  1. Detox with Livton cleanse
  2. Learn how to feed all natural diet
  3. Provide GreenMinSoulFoodomega oils and GutSense
  4. Rebalance  the body by using a front clip harness instead of a collar and have regular visits with a chiropractor

You will be surprised how many dogs’ eye discharges get better just with taking these above steps.

Dr. D 

learn about the author


Dr. Dobias is a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine and lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He has more than 20 years of practical experience in conventional and holistic veterinary medicine and his big passions are natural healing, dogs and living a healthy lifestyle...

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