When your dog looks up at you with those lovely puppy-dog eyes, your heart usually melts — until you notice something isn’t quite right. Your dog’s eyes are bloodshot and crimson. Is it time to take your pet to the vet? Short answer: perhaps.
It’s usually a good idea to get a correct diagnosis if you’re concerned. When your veterinarian determines the cause of your dog’s red eyes, you may rest better, and your dog will be much happier if he is treated.
Furthermore, things might quickly deteriorate, so it’s best to be safe than risk losing your dog’s vision. If your dog has pre-existing health issues, such as allergies or genetic risk factors, or is prone to infections, it’s especially important to keep track of his eye health.
What Causes Red Eyes in Dogs?
Red eyes occur in dogs for many of the same reasons as they do in humans. Some causes are rather harmless, such as allergies or dryness. Other causes, such as eye infections or glaucoma, are medical problems that must be treated right away to avoid permanent vision loss or blindness.
There could be something in your dog’s eye if he has red eyes and is blinking, squinting, tearing up, and avoiding bright lights. By gently opening his eyelids to check for debris, scrapes, or blood, you may be able to determine this.
It could be a less evident condition if your dog has red eyes but otherwise appears healthy. Eye redness can occur in long-haired dog breeds if the fur surrounding their eyes pokes and scratches the eyeball. While many dogs like hanging their heads out the car window, bugs and debris can fly at them, and the wind can cause severe dryness in their eyes.
You should always consult your veterinarian to determine the source of your dog’s eye redness, as some issues can result in blindness or the loss of an eye if left untreated. Eyes that are more bloodshot are more likely to be a medical emergency, as a general rule.
A blood vessel can sometimes be seen meandering over the surface of a dog’s eye, which is ordinarily immaculate white. It’s not natural to have red eyes, especially if they don’t go away after a few hours. Gently lift the eyelids and look for rosy-colored, reddish, or bright red instead of white if you’re not sure how much of the eye is impacted. Red eyes can also be caused by the following conditions:
Conjunctivitis (commonly known as “Pink Eye”) is an inflammation or infection of the outer membrane of the eyeball and the inner eyelid that causes red eyes in dogs.
- Ocular redness
- Yellow-green pus
- Watery eye discharge
Conjunctivitis in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, traumas, birth deformities, tear duct disorders, dry eye, distemper, and, in rare cases, tumors.
In dogs, red eyes are a common sign of infection. A variety of things can cause an eye infection in dogs, just as they can in humans. Viruses such as distemper, herpes, hepatitis, and the flu can cause red eyes in dogs. Brucellosis, leptospirosis, and tick-borne diseases like ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease are examples of bacterial infections that induce red eyes. Fungal infections can also produce red eyes.
Debris in the Eye
Dogs, unlike humans, have a third eyelid that can become red if debris gets stuck underneath it. You will most likely be unable to notice the debris if this is the case. It will need to be identified and removed by a veterinarian. If you find something in your dog’s eye that needs to be removed but isn’t entering the eye, try flushing it out with clean water or gently wiping it out with a damp cotton swab.
If you are unable to remove the object or if your dog will not sit still, seek assistance from a veterinarian. If you notice an object in your dog’s eye, take him to an emergency veterinarian right away. Before you leave, cover the eye with a bandage or, if you have one, an Elizabethan collar (plastic cone) to prevent your dog from scratching it and aggravating the problem.
Scratches in the Eye
If you notice a scratch on your eye, you should see a veterinarian. To avoid more scratches, cover your dog’s eye with a clean damp towel, bandage the cloth to the dog’s head, and place an Elizabethan collar on him. If at all possible, take your dog to the vet the same day.
A dog with red eyes could have a chemical burn if she was exposed to harmful chemicals. You’ll need to flush the eye for 10 minutes with clean water before taking your dog to the vet for a checkup. It’s also a good idea to take the chemical’s container to the veterinarian so they can figure out what’s causing the inflamed eyes.
If you don’t know what chemical your dog was exposed to, there are a few common chemicals that could be to blame. Pesticides and laundry detergent soap are frequently the culprits.
One of the most significant causes of red eyes in dogs is glaucoma. Glaucoma develops in dogs when pressure inside the eyeball rises to the level of an over-inflated balloon. If the pressure is not relieved, it can damage the retina and cause irreversible blindness, thus seeing a veterinarian is essential.
Some breeds are more prone to glaucoma including:
- American Cocker Spaniels
- Basset Hounds, Terriers
- Arctic breeds
Allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, and mildew can cause red eyes and sniffles in dogs, just like they can in people. Allergies in your dog might be seasonal or year-round.
Allergies may appear to be harmless, but it is still a good idea to consult a veterinarian because many eye disorders mirror allergies, and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. If your veterinarian determines that you have an allergy, they may recommend some type of anti-inflammatory or antihistamine.
Are Some Dog Breeds More Likely to Get Red Eyes?
Although there are other possible causes, there are some breeds that are more prone to red eyes. This is caused by the eyelid drooping to the point that the eyelashes scrape against the eyeball, causing irritation, a condition known as entropion. This is usually not a problem as long as there is no discharge and the dog appears unaffected, but it should be checked out by a veterinarian because it could progress to infection.
Short-nosed dog breeds, such as Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Maltese, and Pugs, are prone to ingrown hairs in the skin folds around the eyes, resulting in red eyes. The best strategy to treat the underlying condition will be determined by your veterinarian. Some eye problems will go away on their own, while others will necessitate surgery.