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Q:  My puppy is now 11 months old.  At 8 months he came down with an eye infection.  He was on antibiotic drops which helped, but the eye began looking bad as soon as the drops stopped.  We went through 2 rounds of this eye drop unsuccessfully.  We went to an ophthalmologist who said my dog had follicular conjunctivitis.  He prescribed more drops this time with a steroid.  It did help but after 3 weeks on the drops his eye started getting gooey again.  In the meantime, he broke out with pimples (which looked just like acne) on his chin, nose, and the sides of his head.  He was put on an oral antibiotic and his eye cleared up. A few weeks after finishing the antibiotic, he broke out with a new pimple the exact same day the eye started up again.  I am told the two problems are not related but I’m not so sure.  Any suggestions as to what may be causing these problems?

A:  The type of conjunctivitis your 11 month old puppy has is very common in younger dogs.  Follicular conjunctivitis is a type of eye inflammation that occurs most commonly in the fall and spring but some animals experience eye discharge throughout the year.  Most young dogs “outgrow” this condition.  The small follicles which form on the inside the eyelid allows extra mucus to form, thus the red eyes and increased eye discharge is present.  This condition is NOT contagious to other pets or people and in most dogs; the clinical signs will decrease as the puppy matures.  In some dogs, the clinical signs persist for months to several years.  Symptomatic therapy with a topical steroid/antibiotic drop or ointment allows sufficient medical control for most patients.  In severe cases, additional topical or oral anti-inflammatory medication is necessary.  Keep your dog’s eyes clean with moist cotton and apply the medication as directed.  Yes, it does sometimes reoccur days to weeks after you complete the prescribed therapy.  But, I often try to taper the therapy from twice daily to once daily and then every other day, whatever regimen will keep it under control.  The condition should be rechecked by your veterinarian or the veterinary ophthalmologist while using the therapy as it allows the doctor to assess the degree of improvement and help design the appropriate therapy taper regimen.  The coincidence with the small skin “bumps/pimples” also is common as those are often related to an immature or juvenile immune system (the eye inflammation is essentially an immune system “over reaction”).  Most dogs often also outgrow the skin problem but oral antibiotics or shampoos may be prescribed to minimize the adverse clinical signs.  This condition eventually ends in most dogs as the animal matures.  You might also consider lubricating the eyes with a topical tear substitute (Genteal or other over the counter brand) to help flush away the mucus.  I hope this helps!

Michael H. Brown, DVM, MS, ACVO (Ophthalmology)

Dr. Brown received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University and then performed a small animal internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. After returning to Kansas State University for a comparative ophthalmology residency, he received a Master of Science degree for his biochemical study of animal tears. Dr. Brown became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists in 1996. Dr. Brown’s special interests include diseases of the cornea, corneal surgery, intraocular surgery, and diseases of the retina. He has written scientific papers and is a noted lecturer throughout the country.