Why Are My Dogs Eyes Red

For a dog lover, there is nothing like staring into the loyal eyes of your pup.

However, if your dog is staring back at you with red or bloodshot eyes, you may find yourself wondering why your dog’s eyes are red.

Whether your dog’s eyes are always irritated or you have only noticed the issue recently, it is necessary to consider the potential causes for red eyes in dogs.

Sometimes, your dog’s eyes might be red because of a simple, passing problem that doesn’t need to be treated.

Other times, your dog’s red eyes could suggest a serious health issue.

Reasons Why Your Dog’s Eyes Might Be Red

Why Are My Dogs Eyes Red

Today we will be discussing some of the most likely causes of why your dog’s eyes might be red.

It’s hard to know what’s wrong with our dog’s eyes by simply looking at them at home, which is why it so important to seek veterinary care for further guidance.

As you will see below, red eyes could even point to a serious health complication that requires immediate treatment.

To help you better understand your pup’s symptoms, let’s get into the most common causes of red eyes in dogs below.

If you aren’t sure why your dog’s eyes are red, it’s best to bring them to the vet to be diagnosed and treated if necessary.

If your dog’s eyes are red because of a serious issue like glaucoma or a tumor, quick treatment is absolutely essential.

Your Dog Has Dry Eye

One of the most common reasons for your dog’s eyes to be red is dry eye.

Dry eye occurs because the eyes don’t produce sufficient tears.

Since tears are necessary to keep debris and infection out of the eyes, without them the cornea will become inflamed.

Not only does this make your dog’s eyes red, but it also can cause a good deal of pain.

There are a number of reasons why your dog’s eyes may be red due to dry eye, but damage to the tissue that is supposed to create tears is one of the most common.

When left untreated, dry eye can result in serious issues for your dog.

However, treatments are simple and straightforward.

There are several effective medications for dog dry eye which are drops that can easily be put into the eye once or twice a day.

Your Dog Has Damage To The Cornea

Dogs have a tendency to stick their faces into all kinds of places.

Your dog may have bloodshot eyes because they have suffered damage to the cornea.

If your dog’s eyes are bloodshot suddenly after they have been active, it may be that they have damaged their cornea, resulting in red eyes.

Sometimes this damage will heal on its own, whereas other times you may need help from a veterinarian.

Your Dog Has Allergies

Allergies have a wide range of symptoms in your dog, including causing your dog to have red eyes.

Allergies can result in runny discharge from the eyes or nose, which can lead to red eyes over time.

If your dog’s eyes are red and watery and they also have other symptoms such as discharge, itchiness, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing, it may be allergies that are to blame.

Allergies can be seasonal, often due to pollen, dust, or mold, or they can persist year round. 

Typically, you will see other symptoms of allergies as well as red eyes if this is what is causing the problem.

If your dog’s red eyes are being caused by allergies, treating the allergies will likely also resolve the red eyes.

A number of medications, such as antihistamines, can be effective.

Reducing exposure to the allergen can also be very helpful.

Your Dog Has Pink Eye

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva.

The conjunctiva is the tissue that lines the front of the eyes and the inner eyelids.

Your dog’s eyes may be red and watery if they are suffering from pink eye.

There are a number of potential causes for this inflammation, but irritants are a common culprit.

Dust, pollen, harsh cleaners, smoke, etc can all be responsible for pink eye.

Dogs that suffer from allergies may also have pink eye.

Your Dog Has Cherry Eye

If one of your dog’s eyes is red, particularly in the inner corner, cherry eye may be the culprit.

Cherry eye, or prolapse of the third eyelid, occurs when a gland in the third eyelid “pops”.

You may not realize that dogs have a third eyelid, but in fact, all dogs have an extra eyelid inside of the lower eyelid.

It is very useful for protecting the eye when dogs are active.

It also has a gland that produces tears.

This gland can pop out, resulting in a swollen, visible red tissue on the lower eyelid, typically closer to the nose.

Some dogs always have a red eye due to cherry eye, whereas in other dogs it comes and goes.

Certain breeds are more prone to cherry eye than others.

Brachycephalic breeds that have a short muzzle are particularly prone to it.

These breeds include:

  • Boston Terriers
  • Bulldogs
  • Shih Tzus

Other breeds that are likely to have cherry eye include:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Beagles
  • Bloodhounds

Generally, treatment for cherry eye involves surgery.

The third eyelid gland will be removed, preventing the cherry eye from recurring.

In some cases, your veterinarian may decide that it is okay to wait on surgery if the cherry eye is not particularly severe.

Your Dog Has Glaucoma

Your dog may have red eyes because of a very serious condition known as glaucoma.

Glaucoma occurs when fluid builds up in the eyes, leading to intense pressure.

It can cause damage to the optic nerve and even make your dog go blind.

This is one of the most serious potential causes for your dog’s eyes to be red.

Your dog’s eyes may be red and droopy when they are suffering from glaucoma.

Your dog will likely display pain, and the eyes may also be swollen or the eyeballs may recede.

Furthermore, the pupils may be dilated and unresponsive.

It is essential that you bring your dog to your veterinarian immediately if you suspect they are suffering from glaucoma.

Rapid treatment can save the eye and keep your dog from going blind, as well as alleviate pain.

Your Dog Has A Tumor

In some cases, your dog’s eyes might be red because of a tumor.

Typically, the tumor is not what causes your dog’s eyes to get red directly.

Rather, the tumor will irritate the cornea or another part of the eye, resulting in the eye becoming inflamed and leading to an infection or conjunctivitis.

A tumor can also cause glaucoma.

Treatment for a tumor usually involves removing the tumor, but the other conditions caused by the tumor may also need to be treated.

Your Dog Has Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers happen when your dog suffers an abrasion to the eye that does significant damage.

Fluid builds up in the eye’s stroma, which is the membrane in front of the eyeball.

As fluid accumulates, the eye develops a gray and cloudy appearance.

You may also notice discharge and that the eye is swelling.

Corneal ulcers are quite painful and need treatment from a veterinarian for your dog to recover.

The most common treatment is an antibiotic ointment to keep your dog from developing an infection in the eye.

Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red At Night And In Photographs?

Have you ever noticed that your dog’s eyes glow red at night, making them look a bit frightening in the dark?

Your dog’s eyes are red at night and have a red appearance in photographs because of the structure at the back of the eye known as the tapetum lucidum

This structure reflects light and is situated in front of a layer in the eye filled with blood.

It can reflect light in a number of colors, including red.

Some dogs don’t have a tapetum. This is most common in dogs with blue eyes.

When a photograph of such dogs is taken, there is no reflection, so the red blood vessels at the back of the eye are visible, resulting in the appearance that the eyes are red.

If you notice that your dog’s eyes reflect light differently over time, it is important to have your veterinarian examine their eyes.

Changes in the reflection of the eyes can indicate a potentially serious health problem such as a tumor.

What To Do About Your Dog’s Red Eyes

If you suspect that your dog’s eyes are red because of a mild abrasion or irritation, they don’t seem very painful, and they seem to be improving on their own, you may not need to do anything about your dog’s red eyes.

If, however, your dog’s eyes are always red, they also seem painful, or your dog has other symptoms, it is important to bring your dog to your veterinarian for treatment.

You may be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Veterinary ophthalmologists specialize in treating an animal’s eyes.

These veterinarians typically have a Bachelor of Science, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree, a year of internship, and three years of residency.

They also complete a board certification process.

Veterinary ophthalmologists are highly trained professionals who know how to use a range of sophisticated tools to determine exactly what is going wrong with your dog’s eyes.

They will be able to recommend the ideal treatment and do surgery if it is required.

Most specialty veterinary hospitals have ophthalmologists on call in case of emergencies since some of the conditions that can affect a dog’s eyes are considered an emergency.

Determine Why Your Dog’s Eyes Are Red

Your dog’s eyes may be red for an innocuous reason like a mild abrasion or allergies.

However, they could also be red because of something serious like a tumor or glaucoma.

It is very important for you to figure out exactly why your dog’s eyes are red so that you can get the appropriate treatment for them.

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