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Causes of a Bump on a Dog's Eyelids (Styes)

Bump on a Dog's Eyelids

A "sty" is often the name given to a bump on a dog's eyelids that appears similar to an isolated pimple. Formally known as a hordeolum, a sty is ultimately an abscess, which either will form a head and eventually burst, or will eventually reabsorb. Styes are very common in humans, but in dogs they are actually rare. In many cases, what looks like a sty ends up being something else. Being that dogs are very active animals and are usually exposed to environments with higher rates of contagious organisms, it is important to take care of your dog’s eye in order to avoid complications from a bump on a dog's eye. Following is some information about dog styes and any general bump on a dog's eyelids.

Bump on a Dog's Eyelids

bump on a dog's eyelids

There are several types of bumps that can develop on your dog's eyelids. Styes are actually not very common in dogs. "An actual stye in a dog is very possible but rare," explains veterinarian Dr. Zoe.

In this article we will discuss, several types of bumps on a dog's eyelids that are often referred to as "styes" or confused for them. Use of the term "sty" in this article is just general to depict sty-like growths in dogs.

External bumps and internal ones are possible on a dog's eyelids. An external bump that appears at the edge of the eyelid may be due to a bacterial infection in the follicle or root of the eyelash.

This type of "stye" starts from a small, red, bump on a dog's eyelids, but gradually becomes pus-filled with an abscess. The edge of the eyelid swells and becomes red, and the lid itself can become quite painful.

An internal "stye," on the other hand, occurs when the stye forms on the inner surface of the eyelid and sometimes presses up against the eyeball. This type of stye derives from the meibomian glands which are sebaceous glands found at the rim of the eyelids. These bumps on a dog's eyelids sourcing from these glands are often referred to as "meibomian gland adenomas or meibomian cysts. "

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Even though both dogs and humans suffer from bumps on eyelids, the good news is that the infection that occurs cannot be transmitting between dogs and humans. While this is the case, some dog owners may wonder: "are dog styes infectious to other dogs?" Styes" in dogs in most cases involve infection of the hair follicle, therefore it is not possible to pass the infection directly to other dogs living in the same household.

"Dogs do not get styes like humans do. They do, however, get small benign tumors on their eyelids that can show up all of a sudden... Normally, they do not cause them any harm and we will only remove these if they become large enough to start scratching on the surface of the eye."~Dr. Loretta, veterinarian

Symptoms of "Styes" in Dog Eyes

nasal congestion in dogs

Dogs are deprived from the power of words, so it up to dog owners figuring out what is wrong in their canine companions. Symptoms of "styes" in a dog's eyes may range from dog to dog, so it requires an attentive owner to recongnize signs of trouble.

Generally, expect the affected dog to feel some level of pain or annoyance from detecting an abnormal growth by the eyelids. This can cause the dog to paw at his eye, squint the eye or try to rub the eye against you or furniture.

The most prominent sign of a "stye" is the presence of a pimple-like bump on a dog's eyelids, along the margins in the case of external type styes, often accompanied by eyelid swelling.

Because styes or any other type of bump on a dog's eyelids are often painful, please be careful when you examine your dog’s eye. Your dog can react with a nip. If the abscess is broken, you may see pus coming out of it. If the stye forms a head, it's important that you don't try to squeeze it; let it burst naturally or via treatment recommended by your vet.

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At the Vet's Office 

Since styes are actually uncommon in dogs and are similar to other eye diseases, your veterinarian may perform a bacterial culture for a specific diagnosis.

Other infections or conditions that cause eyelid growths that resemble styes include bacterial blepharitis, a general term for an inflammation of the eyelids, an enlarged meibomian gland or other meibomian gland inflammation or eyelid papillomas on older dogs.

In puppies, swelling resembling a stye can occur with juvenile pyoderma, with small abscesses forming. An ingrown hair too can potentially cause a sty-like growth in a young dog. A mature dog may develop oil gland growths or sebaceous adenoma on the eyelid, demodectic mange can as well at times cause the eyelid to swell.

Although rare, to treat actual styes in dogs, your veterinarian may recommend some home remedies for dog styes such as putting warm compresses on the sty about 3 times a day for about 5 minutes so to bring the infection to a head. Your vet can also recommend topical antibiotics in the form of eye drops. When the sty bursts, the vet may suggest to clean the discharge with saline solution.

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Once the stye heals, the prognosis is good and it is unlikely to recur. If the sty does not heal well or happens again, it is possible that your dog was misdiagnosed. Complications can occur when a dog further injures his eye by scratching at the stye.

Also, cortisone may be another form of treatment for dog sty. This may be suggested in cases where the dog eye is swollen and suffering severe swelling.

"Occasionally these styes are merely an infected or abscessed meibomian gland or eyelash. These can be treated with hot packs, oral antibiotics and topical antibiotic/steroid eye ointments. Other times they must be opened up and scraped out under sedation."~Dr. Suzanne Hurst

A Surgical Approach

dog gallbladder removal surgery

Unfortunately, at some times, where none of the dog stye treatments discussed above seem to work, it is important to surgically remove the stye or other type of bump on a dog's eyelids by a professional.

This because if the mass gets large enough it could end up rubbing on the dog's cornea causing complications. Visit your veterinarian for a follow up appointment if your dog's eyelid growth doesn't get any better.

The surgical procedure involves cutting through the stye with a sterilized scalpel and draining it out. Cryotherapy or laser ablation may be an option. Local anesthesia may be used during the procedure, but your dog could also be sedated depending on the situation.

Once the procedure is completed, saline eyewash will be issued. This should be used as instructed to prevent infections after the operation.

"Styes are either an infected or inflammed meibomian gland. These glands are mucus glands that are found all along the inner part of the eyelid and they open up in the hair follicle where the eyelashes come out of the lid. Once these glands become enlarged, they fill with a thick, pasty material that prevents them from emptying... That's why your vet is recommending surgically treating them. In my practice, I use a laser to open these up."~Dr. Louis Gotthelff

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