Can Dogs Get Styes in Their Eyes?

A stye, or hordeolum, in or around the eye is a very painful, irritating condition. Styes are a common type of eye infection in human beings that develop rapidly over a few days’ time. This infection is primarily caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, a common germ that can be found even on healthy skin.

Usually, Staphylococcus aureus doesn’t harm a person, but if it gets into the skin, it can cause styes as well as abscesses and spots. The result is a contagious, uncomfortable infection that causes a small, pus-filled spot on or near the eyelid. Most styes will improve on their own once they come to a head, and do not require medical treatment.

The stye is a common eye infection amongst people, but what about dogs? Can dogs get styes too?

Can Dogs Get Styes in Their Eyes?


Dogs can develop styes just like humans, both on the inner and outer side of the eye. The upper and lower eyelids are equally susceptible to infection. The inflammation in the glands at the eyelid base gives rise to a stye or a group of styes that can become extremely painful for your dog.

Styes and cysts are often mistaken for each other, but you can tell a stye from a cyst because the stye will typically have an eyelash hair protruding from the middle of the abscess. Styes usually drain naturally, but the process can be sped up with proper eye treatments.

Read on for more about dog styes and learn more about swelling and eye redness in Red Eye in Dogs .

Does My Dog Have a Stye in His Eye?

Styes occur in a dog’s eye because a bacterial infection has caused an inflammation of the eyelid glands and at least one small, red bump on the lid itself. Two types of styes can develop on or in your dog’s eye.

External stye

An external stye appears on the edge of the eyelid because of the bacterial infection in the follicle, or root, of the eyelash. This type of stye starts out as a small, red, bump but gradually becomes a small pus-filled abscess. The edge of the eyelid becomes swollen and red, and the lid itself is quite painful.

Internal stye

An internal stye is a less common infection that happens when the gland in the central part of the eyelid, referred to as the meibomian gland, becomes infected. The stye forms on the inner surface of the eyelid and presses up against the eyeball. From the outside, only swelling appears, but inside, the stye can be painful, can cause a dull aching sensation in the lid, and can cause the sensation of a lump.

If you suspect that your dog has an external or internal stye, look for the following symptoms:

  • the sudden appearance of one or more pimple-like bumps on the inside or outside of the eyelid

  • eye swelling

  • redness in the eye

  • broken abscess with pus

How can your dog be diagnosed with a stye? Your veterinarian will determine if your dog has a stye as opposed to other common canine skin and eye ailments, like conjunctivitis or demodectic mange . Determining if your dog has a stye will dictate the way you will need to dispense treatment.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Stye?

There are a variety of treatments that can be applied to a canine stye to assist and quicken the healing process. Except in rare instances of extreme infection, styes will heal on their own without medical treatment. However, additional treatments can eliminate the pain your dog experiences and hasten the stye’s disappearance.

First, your veterinarian can prescribe topical antibiotics in the form of eye drops, eye washes, and eye ointments. Placing a warm compress on the stye multiple times a day for 5 to 15 minutes will prompt the stye to burst. At this stage, you should clean out the discharge from the stye with saline solution. Once the sty heals, it is unlikely to recur. If swelling or a bump does return, contact your veterinarian as there may be a larger issue than a stye happening with your dog.

There are also some home remedies that you can use on your dog to help heal styes more quickly, including:

  • Chamomile tea infusion

  • Coriander seed tea infusion

  • Turmeric herbs

  • Tea bag compresses

If your dog’s stye continues after these treatments, then a more invasive step involving surgery may be necessary to eliminate the stye for good.

How Are Styes Similar in Dogs and Humans?

There are many similarities between styes on canines and styes in humans. The cause of styes, the types of styes (external and internal)and the symptoms of styes --- swelling, redness, pain, raised bumps on or near the eyelid --- are identical between both groups.

Additionally, the treatments used, both those prescribed by doctors or natural remedies, are the same for dogs and people.

How are Styes Different in Dogs and Humans?

The differences between styes in people and in dogs lie in the infection’s contagious properties. The bacterial germ that causes styes in humans can be very contagious.

People with styes should always wash their hands after touching the eyelid, should avoid sharing washcloths or towels with other people, and avoid using contact lenses or makeup until the stye has healed.

The bacterial germ is not contagious in dogs. Dogs cannot pass on the infection to other dogs or people.

Case Study

A dog owner notices redness in his dog’s right eye. Upon closer examination, she sees a series of small, raised bumps on the dog’s eyelid. The dog flinches when she touches the lid, indicating pain. When examined by a veterinarian, other eye infection sources are eliminated, and the dog is diagnosed with an external stye. The veterinarian prescribes antibiotic eye drops and recommends that the owner use warm compresses on the stye to bring it to a head and speed up the healing process. Within four days, the stye has burst and disappeared, and the dog is no longer in discomfort.

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