Dog Health
4 Minute Read

Eyedrops for Dogs

Published on
May 30, 2023
Cute dog on light pink background
Written By:
The Otis O
The Pet Experts
Reviewed By:
Dr. Ellen Russell
Dr. Ellen Russell DVM, MPH
Licensed Veterinarian
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If you've ever experienced itchiness, dry eyes, or pink eye, you know how relieving eye drops can be. But did you know that your pets can suffer from similar symptoms? With a wide range of conditions that can affect your dog's eyes, it's important to recognize when they may need eye drops. 

Just as humans might use different types of eye drops for different conditions, it's also important to make sure you're getting the right eye drops for dogs. In this post, we'll help you understand some of the symptoms your dog might experience and the potential treatment options.


Your dog might experience a range of symptoms if they're suffering from an eye condition. Some of the most common symptoms include redness in the white of the dog’s eye or in the surrounding skin, cloudiness in the eye, discharge that may range from clear and watery to thick and yellow or green, squinting, repeated blinking, or not opening eyes, eye rubbing, puffiness or swelling. 


There are a few different conditions that can lead to these symptoms. Infections, such as conjunctivitis, are one possibility. Another common cause of eye problems is a scratch on the surface of the eye (the cornea), which occurs when dogs accidentally hit or rub their eye against something. Allergies are another potential culprit. Dogs may be allergic to any number of irritants in their environment. Similar to humans, dogs can experience allergy symptoms from different foods, dust, pollen, mold, and more. Dry eyes, glaucoma, and cataracts are other conditions that can lead to symptoms.

Different Types of Eye Drops for Dogs

There are different types of eye drops available for dogs. Over-the-counter drops, such as saline, allergy, and lubricating drops, can be used in some cases. However, prescription drops may be necessary for more serious conditions. Your veterinarian may choose to prescribe one of the following medications:

  • Neomycin/Polymyxin B/Bacitracin Ointment: This ointment is commonly prescribed for mild cases of conjunctivitis or for minor scratches to the surface of the eye to prevent infection.
  • Neomycin/Polymyxin B/Dexamethasone Drops: These antimicrobial, steroid drops are commonly used for severe cases of conjunctivitis or eyes suffering from redness, burning, and itchiness from allergies. 
  • Cyclosporine Eye Drops: These eye drops are used to treat chronic dry eye in dogs, which is a condition where the eye does not produce enough tears to keep the eye moist and lubricated.
  • Ofloxacin Eye Drops: Ofloxacin is an antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections in the eye. These drops are commonly used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis or corneal ulcers/scratches in dogs.
  • Tacrolimus Eye Drops: Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressant medication that can help to treat certain types of inflammation in the eye. It may be used to treat conditions such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), which is another name for chronic dry eye.
  • Dorzolamide Eye drops: These eye drops are commonly used for dogs with glaucoma to reduce the pressure in the eye. 
  • Lanosterol Eye Drops: Lanosterol is a newer medication that has been shown to potentially help dissolve cataracts. While it is not yet widely available or approved for use in pets, it shows promise as a possible treatment for this condition in the future. Surgery is still the preferred treatment method for cataracts in dogs.

Are Human Eye Drops Safe for Dogs?

When it comes to using human eye drops on dogs, it's crucial to exercise caution. While some human eye drops may be safe for dogs, many others can be harmful. As a rule of thumb, it's best to assume that any medicated eye drops are not safe for your pets. Medications designed for human eyes can have different formulations or active ingredients that could cause adverse reactions in dogs.

On the other hand, saline or lubricating drops may be safe for your pet. Saline drops are a simple solution that can help to rinse out the eye and soothe irritation caused by dust or other particles. Lubricating drops can help to keep the eyes moist, which can be particularly beneficial for dogs with dry eyes or those prone to irritation. However, it's essential to check with your veterinarian before using any type of eye drops on your dog. 

 "Many human OTC eye drops contain tetrahydozoline hydrochloride, which can be harmful to pets."  - Dr. Russell

How to Give Your Dog Eye Drops

Giving your dog eye drops can be challenging. Your dog might be anxious or uncooperative, making it difficult to administer the drops. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks that can make the process easier. Check out this video for some helpful tips:


If you think your dog may need eye drops, it's important to talk to your veterinarian. Many different conditions may have similar symptoms but different courses of treatment. As a result, your vet should provide a diagnosis before starting any treatment for your dog. Giving your dog the right eye drops can provide much-needed relief and improve their overall quality of life. So, take care of your furry friend and make sure they're getting the highest quality pet care possible.