Sty on Dog’s Eyelid: How to Get Rid of It at Home

Sty on dog's eyelid
A dog's swollen eyelid could be a symptom of a sty.

An unusual bump on your dog’s eyelid is something you definitely won’t ignore. It can cause a lot of discomfort and pain, or even impair his vision.

A sty on a dog’s eyelid is caused by an infection in the eyelid gland. It looks like a pimple or bump on the eyelid margin. Avoid popping the sty because it is painful and will likely go away on its own.

Treatment at the vet’s may involve topical antibiotic eye drops or even surgical drainage of the abscess. Your veterinarian may also recommend gentle warm compresses and saline washes to help the eye heal faster.

In this article, we will note some causes of lumps and bumps that may appear on a dog’s eyelid, with a primary focus on styes.

A sty is a common name for a hordeolum which is an infection of one of the glands lining the eyelid.

Styes are relatively common in humans and very painful, but thankfully for our canine companions, they are rare. The most common microbe is Staphylococcus aureus which is part of ours and our pet’s normal skin flora.

Causes

  • The most common cause of a bump on your pet’s eyelid is actually a cyst that can become quite uncomfortable as they grow.
  • Another relatively common cause of swollen eyelids is conjunctivitis, inflammation of the lining of the eyes.
  • Meibomian tumors can also cause eyelid swelling but are thankfully benign and are the same color as surrounding skin.

Some other causes of eye swellings include a chalazion – inflammation of sebaceous glands.

Puppies may develop swellings similar in appearance to styes caused by juvenile pyoderma or occasionally when infested with demodectic mange. Older pets are more prone to cancerous tumors and may have sebaceous adenomas or possibly a mast cell tumor though these are extremely rare.

What does a sty look like in dogs?

A sty on your pet’s eye can occur the same as in people. It may develop on either the upper or lower eyelid on either side of the eye.

The bacteria inside the gland can cause inflammation which causes the swelling you see externally. As you might expect with any infection, there will be a focal swelling that will appear out of nowhere almost overnight.

An eyelid sty is a small abscess that’s basically a pimple, which will usually form a head and burst. The abscess may appear as single or multiple small swellings along the edge of your pet’s eyelid and there might be some swelling of the whole eyelid.

In severe cases, your pet’s eye may be completely closed with the swelling.

There are two types of styes: external and internal:

External styes

These form along the edge of the eyelid due to infection within the eyelash follicle. They usually develop from small, red bumps into abscesses causing the whole eyelid to swell.

Internal styes

Internal eyelid styes are much less commonly seen and are seen when a meibomian gland in the center of the eyelid becomes infected. These types of bumps put pressure on the eyelid and you may only see swelling from the outside but your dog may be very uncomfortable due to the pressure.

People with these types of stye describe a constant, dull, throbbing sensation.

Signs and symptoms

  • You might notice redness in your pet’s eye, particularly if your dog is light-colored.
  • The first thing you might see is your dog rubbing at their eye or face. Styes are very painful, so avoid touching it too much. Your pet may nip if you hit a sensitive spot so be careful.
  • Styes usually start out as red bumps but as they mature, they will develop a creamy, white appearance. There will often be an eyelash coming through the center of the spot.
  • You may see pus coming from the bump or yellow gunk near the eyelid corners.

How to get rid of a stye on a dog’s eyelid

If there is a white head on the stye DO NOT squeeze it!!! You must let the stye either burst naturally or use a treatment recommended by your veterinarian.

If you see your pet scratching at their eye, you should monitor them very carefully as it’s possible to damage the delicate tissue of the eye causing even more problems such as corneal ulcers.

There are a number of treatments that your veterinarian may recommend including:

  • Topical antibiotic eye drops
  • Eyewashes
  • Surgical drainage of the stye in severe cases.

Most styes will improve on their own without treatment but there are some home remedies you can try to alleviate some of your poor pooch’s suffering.

What home remedies can I try?

Warm compress

If your pooch’s eyelid bump hasn’t burst, it’s a good idea to apply warm compresses to his affected eye a few times a day for between 5 and 15 minutes if you can get them to sit still for long enough.

Even after the stye has ruptured, warm compresses can help draw out any more pus inside and will feel soothing to your pet.

There are a variety of compress types you can use:

  • Always use cooled boiled water or distilled water for compresses on the eye.
  • Soft cotton soaked in water
  • Chamomile, black, green tea bag soaks

Saline solution

When there’s pus draining, you can clean your dog’s eye with a saline solution.

Once the eyelid sty has burst and the pus-draining has stopped it’s highly unlikely to recur but if you notice swelling returning or your dog’s eye isn’t completely comfortable then you should take him to your vet to ensure nothing more serious is affecting his eye.

FAQ

Can dog styes go away on their own?

Usually, styes will be re-absorbed by the action of your dogs own immune system. The majority don’t actually need medical treatment, but since they’re painful you can help your pet with some warm compresses to speed up maturation of the abscess.

Are dog styes contagious to humans?

The bacteria that causes styes in dogs doesn’t transfer to people, nor directly to other pets within your home. Good hygiene can ensure that the infection doesn’t spread to other pets in your home. After handling your pet, wash your hands especially if you’ve been applying a compress or drops to their eye.

Should I pop the stye?

NO! No, no, no, no! Do not pop the stye! There are a number of complications that can come from squeezing the stye, not least of which is getting a nip from your pet if you’re not careful.

Styes are very, very painful and putting pressure on it make the pain almost unbearable for even the most stoic of dogs.

Other complications your pet may suffer include forcing the infection deeper into the eye, damaging the sensitive tissues of the eye itself, even the exopthalmus which is when the eyeball is pushed out of the socket.

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 336 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time.