Are you worried that your pup’s eyes are unusually red, bloodshot, or have a discharge?
The reasons for redness in a dog’s eyes can vary, but it is usually caused by allergies, injuries, or certain illnesses.
Here is everything you need to know about why your dog’s eyes are red and when to take it to the veterinarian, and tips to keep your pup’s eyes healthy.
Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red?
There are various reasons why your dog’s eyes can be unusually red, swollen, or teary. Some of the most common ones are having something in the eye, an irritation caused by an allergy or foreign object in the eye, or an injury. In more severe cases, they can be signs of an underlying health problem, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, or certain types of cancer.
Here are the most common reasons why the eyes of your furbaby may be red, weepy, droopy, or bloodshot.
Trauma Or Injury
An injury to the eye is pretty common, especially among boisterous puppies and enthusiastic adult dogs. It can occur during running, playing, and exercise. When the trauma is minor, you can easily treat it at home. But if you notice any visible bleeds or a stuck foreign object in the eye, you should go to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
The signs of injury or trauma to the eye include:
- Redness or bloodshot eye
- Scratching and pawing to the eye
- A visible object in the eye
- Examine the eye under bright light for any visible injuries or foreign objects
- Use a pet-safe saline solution to flush the eye out
- If necessary, use a cone collar to prevent the dog from scratching its eye
Dry Eye Syndrome
This condition, known as KCS (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), occurs when the eye’s tear duct does not produce sufficient amounts of tears.
It can be due to a problem with the dog’s immune system or an injury.
Dry eye syndrome can lead to corneal ulcers or infections if left untreated.
Signs of Dry Eye Syndrome:
- Eye gunk or mucus
- Inflamed eye
- Antibiotic eye drops
- Artificial tear drops
- Immunosuppressant veterinary medicine
Corneal Abrasion, Corneal Ulcer
The eye’s cornea is the clear film-like membrane covering the eyeball. Ulcers of the cornea can occur due to an eye injury or can result from a dry eye syndrome that has not been treated.
The Signs of Corneal Ulcer:
- Red eye
- Squinting, keeping the eye closed
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye discharge
- Antibiotic ointment or eye drops
- Pain medication
- Soft contact lenses
- Corneal transplant surgery
Breed-Specific Health Issues
Some dog breeds are more prone to eye problems. This is especially true for flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds such as Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Bulldogs. The other breeds at higher risk of red eyes are Bloodhounds, Newfoundland, and other pups with droopy and loose skin. Dog breeds such as Maltese, Poodles, and Sheepdogs have long hair over their eyes.
- Make sure to keep the long hair over the eyes trimmed and clean
- Take your pup on regular vet checkups for the eyes
- Use eye drops or other ointments as prescribed by your veterinarian
Pinkeye – Conjunctivitis
This is an eye inflammation that causes redness, gunky discharge, and itchiness. It can affect only one or both eyes of your pup. It spreads easily and can be caused by allergies, injuries, or contagious infections.
If you suspect that your four-legged companion has pinkeye, you should pay a visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible. When left untreated, conjunctivitis can lead to more severe symptoms and even eye damage.
Signs that your dog may have conjunctivitis:
- Swelling of the eyes
- Squinting and excessive blinking
- Gunky greenish or yellowish discharge
- Cold compresses
- Artificial tears
- Antibiotic eye drops or ointments
- Antihistamines (if the cause is an allergy)
- In severe cases, if the tear duct becomes blocked, your pup may require surgery.
Like in people, allergies can cause eye irritation, itchiness, swelling, and redness in canines.
Unfortunately, allergies are common in dogs and are sometimes difficult to diagnose.
If you suspect your furbaby is allergic to something in the environment, a specific food, or other, make sure to speak to your veterinarian.
You may need to give your allergic pup prescription medication or feed it a special diet in order to resolve and prevent the allergic reactions.
Signs that your dog’s eyes are red because of allergies:
- Red, itchy eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Hives, itchiness on other parts of the body
It would be best if you took your pet to the veterinarian for testing for allergies. You may need to place your dog on an elimination diet to determine the foods it is allergic to. Once you remove the allergens from the dog’s food or environment, it should be all right.
In some cases, when you cannot control the allergens, such as with pollen allergies, your veterinarian may prescribe antihistamines for your allergic furbaby. Using an air purifier in your home can help eliminate airborne allergens.
Glaucoma is a serious condition that causes a buildup of fluid in the eye, which leads to increased pressure in the eyeball. If it is not treated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
If you suspect your pup may suffer from glaucoma, you should visit the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.
Signs that your pup may have glaucoma:
- Red and swollen eye
- The pupils of the eyes are of different sizes
- Excessive rubbing of the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Cloudy eyes
- Impaired vision
- Medication, including pain medication
- Eye drops
When Is It Time To See The Veterinarian?
In many cases, red eyes are due to mundane causes and can be treated easily at home. However, suppose your dog has a severe injury, or shows symptoms of a more serious condition like glaucoma, corneal ulcer, or conjunctivitis. In that case, you should take it to the veterinarian for a checkup.
Other symptoms to look for, besides the red eyes, include an unusual discharge, excessive rubbing or scratching, squinting, or swelling.
Here Is What To Expect When You Go To The Vet
Depending on your dog’s symptoms and condition, the veterinarian can perform one or more of the following tests:
- A general ophthalmologic examination with an ophthalmoscope.
- Measure the internal (intraocular) eye pressure with a tonometer.
- A Schirmer test with paper strips to test the lubrication of the eyes.
- A fluorescein stain test using harmless dye to view any scratches on the eyeball.
- Blood tests to determine whether underlying health issues are causing the redness of the eyes.
- Allergy testing.
In less serious cases, your veterinarian will prescribe eye drops, ointments, or other medication for your pup. In more severe cases, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist for further testing and treatment.
Keeping The Eyes Of Your Pup Healthy
While it is impossible to prevent certain injuries or illnesses that can cause eye redness, there are some ways to keep your pet’s eyes as healthy as possible.
Trim The Hair Covering The Eyes
If your furry companion has long hair on its face, make sure to trim it or otherwise keep it out of its eyes. Also, clean the hair on a regular basis.
Clean Gunk Off The Eyes
Use a soft and clean cloth and water or an eye wipe to clean off any gunk around your dog’s eyes. Do this gently and only on the outside of the eyes.
Monitor Your Pup For Scratching And Rubbing
If you notice that your furry friend has been rubbing or scratching its eyes excessively and see other signs such as redness, swelling, or an unusual discharge from the eyes, you should contact your veterinarian.
Keep The Dog As Safe As Possible In The Car
One of the leading causes of getting foreign objects in the eyes or eye injuries is from riding in the car with the dog’s face out of the window.
Make sure to keep your car windows closed, or if your pup loves hanging from the window, buy some comfortable and safe Doggles for your car rides together.
Related: Are Dogs Allowed In Ubers?
Go To The Vet For Regular Eye Checkups
It is advisable to take your four-legged companion for an annual checkup of the eyes at the veterinarian. Senior dogs and others with underlying health issues should check their eyes more often.
As with any other health issue, monitoring your pup for any worrying symptoms, a sudden change in its behavior or appearance, or other body language signs is essential.
One of the things to watch for is redness, tearing, and other problems with your furbaby’s eyes.