If you see your dog constantly rubbing his face along the furniture or carpet chances are he is not playing some kind of game with you. He is probably rubbing his face to relieve the itchiness in his eyes because he is allergic to something. Pawing at his eyes is another sign that he is having an allergic reaction and is trying to stop the itch. Imagine how you feel when you get something in your eye or come in contact with an allergen… you just want to rub your eyes until they fall out! Your dog feels the same way, the only relief is itching.
Another sure sign that he has an eye allergy is when his eyes are red and runny. This may be caused from something airborne like dust or pollen, exposure to perfumes, air fresheners or smoke or even a food that he may have an allergy to. The only thing you do know is that more than likely you don’t know what the cause is. Unless your dog has had allergies his whole life and you are used to dealing with them, you are going to have to play a guessing game if this eye allergy is something new. He may have developed seasonal allergies that he never had when he was younger. As dogs age their immune system isn’t as strong as it was when they were younger and more things are apt to bother them and they show signs of being allergic to something.
You don’t have to be a professional to recognize eye allergy symptoms in your dog, and he isn’t shedding tears because he misses you! He may even be sneezing and snorting along with the eye symptoms-just like people do with allergies. To be sure this is what is happening it is best to take him to your vet for a check-up to rule out any possible eye injury or something stuck in the eye which can lead to certain dangerous outcomes… like blindness. A veterinary ophthalmologist can either rule out or confirm your suspicions as to whether it is an eye allergy or something else.
Treatment will consist of drops or ointments for the eyes for a period of time (if allergies are confirmed) as well as medication to repress the histamines that are causing the reaction. You can actually use ‘people’ medicine to treat the allergy symptoms. Benadryl, Zyrtec, or Claritin can be used, although Benadryl seems to have the better results. Eye washes made specifically for dogs are also available over the counter and also by prescription. It’s important to keep the eye and the area around it clean and hair free (especially on dogs with longer hair) and try not to get soap in his eyes when bathing. Gentle shampoos are available for the head, ear, and face area, or even all over body use. If, after a period of time, you notice that nothing is improving steroids may be recommended for a short term. Make sure you stay in touch with your vet and keep him informed of the progress of your dog. Dog eye allergies are nothing to fool around with.