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How Do I Treat a Dog Stye?

Basic treatment of a dog stye is washing the area and applying a warm compresses.
Gauze can be a useful item to have on hand when trying to treat a dog stye.
A veterinarian may have to remove a stye if it doesn't go away on it's own.
A dog might need an Elizabethan collar to protect a stye.
Wearing latex or similar gloves is a good idea when working on a dog stye, because it prevents an owner from coming into direct contact with any bacteria.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: C. Daw
  • Revised By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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Basic treatment of a dog stye is usually uncomplicated and can be done at home, as it involves simply washing the area and applying warm compresses. Medication sometimes helps, depending on the cause of the problem, and these are available as drops, ointments and oral chews or pills. In some cases, a veterinarian has to remove the stye physically, or he provides a differential diagnosis. Both owners and vets should exercise safety precautions, such as wearing gloves, while providing treatment.

Washing

Sometimes, dirt, oil and other debris such as dead skin clogs hair follicles very close to the eyelid, causing swelling and irritation. In other cases, bacterial infections are the problem, and occasionally it is the meibomian glands around the rim of the eye that become red and puffy. Initial treatment of a dog stye generally starts with a very gentle washing of the eyelid and surrounding area, because it removes whatever is causing the clog, or cleans away the bacteria. A plain, clean washcloth or gauze pad works just fine for this task.

Compresses

Mild heat generally encourages pores to relax and open, making it easier to clean them out. It also can encourage glands to drain. Once the eye is clean, applying a warm compress to the dog stye several times a day can speed recovery. Warm cloths are a good choice, but owners also have had success with other items, such as teabags or rice heated for a few seconds in the microwave.

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Medication

When bacteria is the source of the problem, medicated eye washes or ointment can address the infection. These are usually fairly easy to apply by tilting the animal’s head up, pulling down gently on the eyelid and letting the medication drip down from the bottle or tube. A veterinarian might prescribe an oral antibiotic instead of or in addition to these options, which is relatively easy to hide in food. Depending on the severity of the condition, he also might recommend cortisone, a substance that reduces the inflammation response and associated swelling. Owners generally use these more advanced medications with older animals that chronically get styes.

Professional Removal

In most cases, a dog stye goes away on its own, so veterinarians usually try a course of washing, compress application and medication first. If it gets worse, however, or if it is severely bothering the animal and interfering with vision, a professional might choose to remove it manually. To do this, he opens the stye with a sterilized needle or scapel so the infection can drain or be wiped away. The procedure generally requires sedating the dog, both for safety and so the animal doesn’t become unnecessarily stressed. Afterward, a basic saline eye wash for pets or even a common contact lens solution is useful for keeping the area clean.

Owner Safety

Just like people, most dogs react instinctively when something comes too close to their eyes, and not all dogs are very cooperative if someone tries to hold something on their face for an extended period. To make accessing the eye easier, and to avoid nips or bites, it might be necessary to have another person hold the animal still or wait until the dog is very relaxed before trying to apply treatment. Using a muzzle is another method of staying safe.

Wearing some latex or similar gloves is a good idea when working on a dog stye, because it prevents an owner from coming into direct contact with any bacteria. Conversely, it keeps anything that still might be on a person’s skin from getting in the eye and causing additional infections. The majority of veterinarians and other medical professionals wash their hands before and after this type of work as an additional precaution even when gloves are available.

Considerations and Additional Tips

Dog styes that do not respond to initial home treatments typically warrant a visit to the vet, because in some cases, what looks like one can be another problem, such as a benign or cancerous tumor. Only a trained professional can provide a final diagnosis in these cases. Additionally, this condition sometimes appears or repeats because of something in the animal’s environment, such as a particular ingredient in a pet shampoo, so analyzing when the problem started or when it seems to flair can provide excellent clues about what is causing the symptoms. If a pet can’t seem to leave its eye alone, a cone, also called an Elizabethan collar, can make it difficult to rub and scratch the area.

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Discuss this Article

anon322996
Post 4

Make a mixture of 1 tsp. Eyebright in one cup of boiled distilled water. Let the Eyebright steep and then dip a cotton ball in the mixture and place it over the dog's eye for as long as the dog will tolerate. I have researched and am using this method right now on a large stye on my dog.

bluedolphin
Post 3
@donasmrs-- I think the safest home remedy for styes is hot compresses. Yes, you can make antibacterial ointments at home with natural ingredients. But I wouldn't recommend any of these unless you know for sure that your dog has a stye and not something else. Because if he has something else, it can be worsened by these remedies.

Sometimes, ulcers and cysts can be mistaken for styes, especially if you've never seen them before. You don't have to pay to have a vet confirm that this is indeed a stye. And the vet could recommend home remedies to you as well.

But meanwhile, just keep the area clean with hot compresses and wipes. Don't use shampoos or cleansers to clean the area as they can irritate the stye. And never, ever pop it!

ddljohn
Post 2

@donasmrs-- If the stye doesn't go away soon, please take your dog to the vet.

One of my dogs kept getting a stye on her eye. She would get one, I would treat it with home remedies and ointments. But a few months later another one would pop up. And each time it seemed to get a little worse. In fact, the last one was much larger than previous ones and bled too.

I realized at this point that I can't deal with this on my own. I took her to the vet and they scheduled a day to have it removed. Removal was really easy and her eye healed really fast. It's been two years and she hasn't gotten another stye so far (knock on wood).

I'm glad I took her in and had the vet take care of it. If the infection had gotten out of hand and damaged her eye or if she hurt herself while trying to scratch the stye, I would have felt really guilty for not taking it more seriously.

donasmrs
Post 1

My dog seems to have what looks like a stye. I've actually never seen a dog eye stye before but I checked pictures online and it looks like it.

I have been washing my dog's eye with a cotton ball dipped in warm water and a drop of baby shampoo to kill bacteria. The stye isn't getting worse but it hasn't disappeared either.

Does anyone know any other effective home remedies for styes that I can use on my dog? I can take him to the veterinarian but it's probably going to cost a lot to have it removed. If I can take care of this at home, that would be great.

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