Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. The eyelids can be red and swollen, and the lid margins are usually encrusted with purulent (mucky) discharge. The eyelids are often itchy, so the dog will paw at the eyes. Excessive blinking and sensitivity to light may also be evident. Blepharitis is nearly always accompanied by conjunctivitis.

Causes of blepharitis

1. Puppy impetigo - bacterial infections
2. Hypersensitivity to body's own bacteria
3. Solar irritation
4. Allergies to drugs, soaps, shampoo, food, etc.
5. Insect bites
6. Chemical burns
7. Parasite infections (mites) or fungal infection
8. Immune-mediated diseases
9. Nutritional imbalances, eg. zinc deficiency
10. Endocrine abnormalities, eg. hypothyroidism

Diagnosis of blepharitis

Usually a thorough history and physical examination are sufficient to diagnose blepharitis. Sometimes a biopsy is required to determine the underlying cause of the blepharitis. A biopsy may be indicated if the response to therapy is poor.

Treatment of Blepharitis

Treatment depends upon the underlying cause. If blepharitis is a result of other ongoing health conditions, those should be treated concurrently. It is usually recommended to use warm compresses - a hand towel soaked in plain warm water will aid in removing the discharge from around the eyelid. The hair around the eye must be clipped short. Bacterial blepharitis is treated with antibiotics for a minimum of 3 weeks.

Some dogs will also need to be treated with systemic anti-inflammatory medications. These may either be steroidal or non-steroidal drugs.


The long term prognosis depends upon the underlying cause. Many dogs will need some form of medication long term. Blepharitis is often something that is controlled rather than cured.