Why are my dog’s eyes red: Common Causes and Solutions

Why are my dogs eyes red?

The appearance of your dogs’ eyes can give useful clues about whether they are feeling happy or sad, stressed or relaxed, excited or tired. 

They can also tell us about our dog’s health- changes in the appearance of your dog’s eyes can be the first indication that something isn’t quite right.

Most pet parents are very familiar with what their dog’s eyes look like and will notice straight away if something isn’t as it should be. 

If your dog’s big brown eyes are suddenly a little red or bloodshot, is this something to worry about? Has your dog’s eye swollen all of a sudden? 

Read on for all you need to know about red eyes in dogs and for answers to all your eye-related questions

Table of Contents

My dog’s eye is red- should I worry?

Red eyes in dogs can have a number of causes- some simple and some are more serious. 

The first thing you need to consider is when did the red eye appear? Is it just one eye or both? These are questions that your vet will ask you. 

Then think about anything your dog has done in the time leading up to this that could explain his red eye. For example, did you walk him through a field with long grass? Did you bathe him with a new shampoo? Have you changed his usual dog food? Has your dog had an injury or accident? 

Also consider whether your dog is stressed, as this can cause red eyes. Look for other clues such as squinting and unusual eye discharge- either watery or gunky.

Causes of red or bloodshot in dogs can include:

When it comes to the health of your dog’s eyes, never leave it to chance. Always contact your vet if you have any concerns.

Why are my dog’s eyes bloodshot?

‘Bloodshot eyes’ is another term used to describe red eyes in dogs. Bloodshot eyes occur when the tiny blood vessels in the eye rupture, giving the eye a pink or red appearance. 

How do you treat bloodshot eyes? Well, it depends on what is causing them to be bloodshot. Refer to the list above for causes of red or bloodshot eyes, and always contact your vet if your dog’s eyes stay bloodshot or if you are unsure what has caused the problem.

Why is my dog’s eye swollen?

If your dog’s eye has swollen up all of a sudden, it can be a worrying time. This is certainly something you need to speak to your vet about- it might help to take some photos and send them straight to your vet. Causes of swollen eyes include:

Causes of swollen eyes include:

My dog’s eye is bleeding- what should I do?

If your dog’s eye is bleeding, don’t ignore it- this may need urgent vet treatment.

Firstly, try to work out where the blood is coming from.

  • Is it coming from within the eye itself, the eyelid, or the skin around the eye?
  • Is the blood coming out of the eye or staying within the eye itself?
  • Is one eye bleeding or both?
  • Is your dog showing any other signs of injury or illness?
  • Do you know when the bleeding started and what your dog was doing just before?

Next, you need to contact your vet for advice- they will want to know the answers to all these questions and they will want to examine your dog.

Causes of dog eye bleeding can include hyphema (bleeding of the retina due to trauma or retinal detachment), injury, poisoning, severe infection or inflammation, tumors, or congenital eye abnormalities causing damage to the eye.

Why is my dog squinting in one eye?

If your dog is squinting in one eye, this is a sign that the eye is irritated and uncomfortable. Look for other signs such as red or bloodshot eyes, watery or gunky discharge or swelling of the eyes. 

Squinting in one eye can be caused by infection, injury, a foreign body in the eye, or a medical condition such as corneal ulcers or glaucoma. 

If your dog is squinting in one eye it is important that he or she is seen by a vet.

Can allergies affect my dog’s eyes?

Yes, dog allergies can affect the eyes. Dogs can be allergic to most things humans can- including pollen, certain foods, and house dust mites, Many dog owners report that their dogs’ allergies can cause their eyes to swell, become red or bloodshot, and produce unusual discharge.

Even if the allergy only causes the eye to become a little irritated, the dog may rub or paw the eyes and this can then lead to swelling, inflammation, or infection.

Can stress cause red eyes in dogs?

Yes, it can. When a dog is stressed or very excited, their heart rate and blood pressure increase. This causes an increase in blood flow and can cause their eyes to become pink or red.

The redness doesn’t last long and should start to decrease as the dog calms down. If your dog has red or pink eyes for longer periods, this may mean that their stress levels aren’t being well controlled, or that the redness is caused by something else.

Red eyes can also mean that your dog isn’t getting enough sleep.

Do dogs get red eyes on hot days?

If your dog exercises a bit too much on a hot day, then yes, you may notice his eyes become pink or red as a result of increased blood flow. This is usually seen alongside heavy panting, but the red eyes should resolve as the dog cools down and becomes calmer.

Be aware that too much exercise on a hot day can lead to heatstroke- which can be fatal.

Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, drooling, red eyes, red tongue and gums, and collapse. 

If your dog shows signs of heatstroke, get him or her to a cool place and contact a vet immediately.

Maintaining eye health in dogs

The most important thing an owner can do to maintain their dog’s eye health is regular checks on the condition of the eyes.

If you check your dog’s eyes regularly, you are more likely to notice any minor changes and therefore seek veterinary advice. The sooner a condition is diagnosed and treated, the better. 

Check that the eyes are open and clear, with no signs of reddening, cloudiness, or unusual discharge. The third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, should not be visible- unless that is normal for your dog. 

The whites of the eyes should be white, and inside the eyelids should be salmon pink. 

Check that both pupils are the same size and that the eyelids are not turning inwards. 

Also check that your dog’s eyes have not started to bulge as this can be a sign of glaucoma (some breeds do have naturally bulging eyes, the key is to know what is normal for your dog). 

Also monitor your dog for any sign that their vision may be failing (bumping into things, trouble picking up a ball or a treat). If you notice any signs of concern, contact your vet.

A good diet will also contribute to the health of your dog’s eyes. Buy the best quality dog food you can afford and avoid foods that contain cheap fillers and chemical additives. 

Antioxidants are vital for maintaining good eye health, so you might want to consider supplementing your dog’s diet with antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, carrots, sweet potato, and broccoli.

Why are my dog’s eyes red? – Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why a dog’s eyes may become red or swollen. Sometimes red eyes may be caused by something simple such as too much excitement on a hot day- in which case they will clear up on their own. 

However, if your dog’s red eyes persist, this can be a sign that they need veterinary treatment. Eye health should always be taken seriously as minor issues can lead to more significant problems if left untreated. 

Your dog’s vision is important to them, so always speak to your vet if you have any concerns regarding your dog’s eyes.

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