My Dog’s Eyelid Is Swollen – What could it be?

Have you ever looked over at your canine friend while expecting to see their friendly face, only to discover that their eyelid is suddenly swollen?

The onset of a puffy eye can not only cause an immediate panic, but have you questioning what could have led to this strange change in appearance.

In this article we will get into the details of swollen eyelids in dogs, and help you better understand how to react if this happens to your canine companion.

Dogs Eye Lid Is Swollen

What Is Blepharitis In Dogs?

Blepharitis, or swollen eyelids, is a term used to describe inflammation of the canine eyelid and surrounding tissues.

Dogs with blepharitis may not only experience swelling of the outer eyelid itself, but they can also develop secondary irritation of the eye as well.

Not only can the initial inflammation of the eyelid be irritating to a dog, but it is often made worse by the dog’s self mutilation.

Why Is My Dog’s Eyelid Swollen?

Though your pup’s swollen eyelid may have appeared out of nowhere, there is likely an underlying cause of their sudden inflammation.

To help you narrow down the factors behind your pup’s blepharitis, let’s discuss some of the most common causes of swollen eyelids in dogs below.

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions are a common cause of eyelid swelling in our furry friends.

Reactions to things like routine vaccines and insect stings can cause significant facial swelling, sometimes only occurring around the eyes.

This typically occurs within 12 hours of the allergen exposure, and may be accompanied by other signs of allergic reaction.

Some of the common symptoms you may see along with eyelid swelling include hives, skin redness, itching, agitation, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Insect Sting

Insect stings, such as a bee sting, around your dog’s eye can easily lead to swelling of the eyelid.

Not only can these stings cause significant inflammation in the area, but they can also cause secondary allergic reactions in sensitive pups.

Most dogs will also begin to paw at the area due to the discomfort, causing even more swelling as the time passes.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections around the eyelid can cause significant swelling for some furry friends.

Bacteria can be introduced to the eyelid through any form of trauma to the tissue, ranging from small cuts to general irritation.

Not only can dogs develop a minor infection of the skin around their eyes, but they can also develop abscesses in the area.

If your dog has a significant eyelid infection, the eye can become quite large.

Eyelid Trauma

Trauma to the eye is another possible cause of swelling on the eyelid.

Just like if you and I got a black eye from a sudden injury, our dog can experience this form of trauma as well.

While this can certainly happen to our furry friends, you will likely notice some other evidence of trauma in the region.

You may notice significant swelling of the face, bruising, lacerations, and even changes in their eye appearance.

Eyelid Growths

Eyelid growths can cause significant swelling of the eyelids in some canine companions.

Growth on the eyelids can come in many forms, ranging from mast cell tumors to tumors of the tear glands.

These growths may vary in how quickly they develop, as well as any other symptoms or eye irritation they cause.

Some of these growths may develop on the outside of the dog’s eyelid, while others will develop on the inner lining.


Conjunctivitis may refer to irritation of the conjunctival tissue, but it can cause swelling of the eyelid as well.

Dogs with conjunctivitis will typically paw and scratch at their eye in search of relief, causing trauma to the entire region surrounding the eye.

Not only can the eyelid begin to swell if the dog traumatizes the area, but any potential infection within the eye can progress into eyelid inflammation as well.

Symptoms Of Swollen Eyelids In Dogs

If a dog is experiencing swelling of the eyelid, you may notice some other concerning symptoms as well.

Many cases of blepharitis are a result of overall eye irritation, meaning you may see evidence of other underlying eye conditions as well.

Some of the common symptoms that accompany swollen eyelids in dogs include:

  • Redness of the eye
  • Eye discharge
  • Pawing at the eye
  • Dry skin around the eyelid
  • Crusted discharge around the eye
  • Squinting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Facial sensitivity

If you notice any of the above symptoms, we suggest reaching out to your vet for further guidance.

Any potential eye condition should be addressed as soon as possible, as they can easily lead to permanent damage.

Diagnosing Swollen Eyelids In Dogs

If you take your dog to the vet for a swollen eyelid, there are a few different diagnostics that they may perform.

First, you can expect your vet to perform a thorough eye exam to search for evidence of any underlying conditions.

This will help your vet search for any obvious irritation, injuries, growths, and any other factor that could be causing the inflammation.

Once your veterinarian performs an eye exam, they may suggest performing a few different diagnostics on the eye to rule out any serious injury to the eye itself.

They may stain the eye in search of corneal ulcers, they may test the pressure of the eye to rule out conditions like glaucoma, and they may also measure the tear production of the eye to rule out any significant dryness.

This is not the case for all situations, but these options are always on the table.

The results of your dog’s eye exams and diagnostics can help to point your vet in the best direction for treatment.

They will also rely on any details you offered about your dog leading up to the onset of their eyelid swelling.

Treating Swollen Eyelids In Dogs

Treatment for swollen eyelids in dogs will vary based on the exact cause.

There are many potential factors behind this abnormal development, meaning there are many potential treatment plans on the table.

To help you better understand what options may be available to your pup, let’s break it down by diagnosis.

Allergic Reaction

Many allergic reactions that cause eyelid swelling will be treated with both antihistamine and steroid injections upon arrival, as well as a prescription for antihistamine in the days following. 

Insect Stings

Insect stings will be addressed by searching for the presence of a stinger in the area, treating with antihistamines if necessary, and the potential use of antibiotics if there is significant trauma to the area. 

Bacterial Infections

Treatment for bacterial infections on the eyelids will vary based on the cause of the infection.

While some minor infections can be treated with oral antibiotics, other severe infections may need to be addressed under general anesthesia. 

Eyelid Trauma

Eye trauma will typically be treated based on whether or not trauma to the eye itself is present.

If there is no significant trauma to the eye itself, your vet may be able to treat your pup with anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics.

Eyelid Growths

Treatment for eyelid growths will vary based on the type of growth your dog has developed.

Some growths can be something as simple as a skin tag, while others can be cancerous tumors.

When it comes to growths of the eyelid, we suggest following your vet’s guidance.

Can I Treat My Dog’s Swollen Eyelid At Home?

While we always suggest contacting your veterinarian from the moment you notice a swollen eyelid on your pup, there may be some ways that you can help your furry friend at home.

It’s important to keep in mind that these options should only be practiced if your vet gives you approval, or if the exact cause of your dog’s blepharitis has already been diagnosed.

Antihistamines: If your vet thinks your dog is experiencing a mild allergic reaction, they may suggest offering them an antihistamine like Benadryl. Your vet can offer you a proper dose based on your dog’s size and current symptoms.

Warm compresses: Warm compresses performed 2-3 times a day can help to bring down swelling of the eyelid in some situations. This can be done by soaking a clean rag in warm water and holding the rag over the eye for 5-10 minutes.

Flushing the eye: If your vet thinks that your dog may have debris or potential irritants in their eye, they may offer you instructions to properly flush the eye. This should only be done with saline eye wash that your veterinarian deems safe.

Final Thoughts

A swollen eyelid is something that should always be taken seriously in our furry friends.

Any trauma to the eye region can lead to lasting damage in the area, so we always suggest seeking medical care from the moment these symptoms develop.

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