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My Dog’s Eye is Swollen: Causes and Treatment

Swelling of a pet’s eye is a common problem that pet owners experience regularly. The cause of this condition can range from fluid retention to trauma to a severe bacterial or viral infection. Just like humans, a dog may experience swelling in one or both eyes and the swelling may be painless with some redness or accompanied by pain and itchiness.

Swollen eyes in dogs can be unsightly but the good news is that, the swelling usually goes down by itself after a few days. There are also various treatments that can be used by a professional vet to get rid of the underlying cause of the swelling, many of which have exhaustively been discussed below.

When you suspect some swelling in your dog’s eye, always consult a professional veterinarian for effective diagnosis and treatment.

What Causes Eye Swelling in Dogs?

dog's eye inflammation
dog’s eye is swollen picture

1.       Blocked tear duct

Tear duct issues such as blocked tear duct can severely affect the eye. When there is a partial or complete obstruction in the tear drainage system of your dog’s eye, tears can’t drain normally, leaving the dog with watery, red, irritated eyes.

A blocked tear duct is common in puppies and old dogs. The condition usually gets better without any treatment. In many cases, blocked tear duct in dogs may be due to an injury from scratching, an infection or a tumor.

Common symptoms and signs of a blocked tear duct in dogs include:

  • Excessive tearing.
  • Painful swelling near the inside corner of the eye.
  • Crusting of the eyelids.
  • Mucus or pus discharge from the lids and surface of the eye.
  • Redness of the white part of the eye.

2.       Eye Tumors

Tumors or masses in the dog’s eye can be benign or malignant. They are sometimes referred to as Uveal melanoma since the tumors tend to develop in certain parts of the uvea such as ciliary and choroid cells, which are the exact same pigment as that of the skin.

Signs and symptoms of eye tumors can vary from dog to dog, the most common symptoms include:

  • Dark patch in the eye that is getting bigger with time.
  • Bulging of one eye.
  • Lump on the eyelid.
  • Change in the iris color

3.       Canine Blepharitis

Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. It involves the part of eyelid where the eyelashes grow and affects both eyelids. It commonly occurs when tiny oil gland located near the base of the eyelashes become clogged. This eventually leads to irritated and red eyes. The exact cause of blepharitis isn’t clear but experts believe factors such as seborrheic dermatitis, bacterial infection, Rosacea and allergies could be responsible for this condition.

Common symptoms and signs of Blepharitis in dogs include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Flaking of the skin around the eyes
  • Red swollen eyelid
  • Eyelids that appear greasy
  • Loss of eyelashes

In case your dog has blepharitis symptoms and signs that do not seem to improve despite good hygiene and care, make a point of consulting your vet.

4.       Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva (a thin membrane that covers the actual eye). It is a common condition in dogs that can be caused by either a bacterial or viral infection. It can also be caused by external irritant such as mold spores, pollen or pet dander.

When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva of a dog get inflamed, they become more visible. This is what causes the white of the dog’s eye to appear reddish or pink.

Conjunctivitis can affect either one or both eyes and have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Tearing
  • Swollen eyelid
  • Itching in one or both eyes
  • Redness in one or both eyes
  • Discharge in one or both eyes

Though conjunctivitis can be irritating, it does not affect your vision. Treatment can help ease the discomfort of conjunctivitis. If you see any of the above signs in your pet, make a point of consulting your vet.

5.       Foreign object

A foreign object in the eye is something that enters the eye from outside the body. It can be anything that does not naturally belong there such as particles of dust, sand, Dirt and metal shard. Foreign objects in the eye usually affect the conjunctiva or the cornea (the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye).

Common symptoms of a foreign object in the eye of your dog include:

  • Tearing of the eye
  • Excessive blinking
  • Eye swelling
  • Eye redness

In many cases, symptoms of a foreign object in a pet’s eye may look like other eye conditions or medical problems. Always consult your veterinarian for examination and treatment.

6.       Allergies

Eye allergies in dogs develop when the dog’s immune system becomes sensitive and overreacts to an allergen in the immediate environment. When the allergen come in contact with antibodies attached to the mast cells in the dog’s eye; the cells respond by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause tiny blood vessels to leak and the dog’s eye becomes itchy, red and swollen.

Examples of allergens that can cause swelling in the pet’s eyes include:

  • Pollen
  • Dander
  • Mold spores
  • Smoke
  • dust

Symptoms of eye allergy in pets can range from mild, moderate to severe. Other than itchiness, redness and swelling other symptoms of eye allergy in pets may include:

  • Pink eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Scaling around the eyes
  • Swollen eyelids

If the symptoms of eye allergy becomes severe; causing a lot of discomfort to your pet, make a point of consulting a veterinarian.

7.       Traumatic Injuries

There are many different forms of trauma to the dog’s eye varying from minor to severe injury. The trauma can be due to excessive scratching or a foreign object. The trauma may affect not only the eye, but the surrounding area, including adjacent tissue and bone structure. Common signs and symptoms of eye trauma include:

  • Blood in the white part of the eye
  • Unusual pupil size or shape
  • Something embedded in the eye
  • Cuts to the eyelid
  • Something under the eyelid that cannot be easily removed.

Eye trauma requires treatment by a veterinarian. If your pet’s eye has a cut or there is a foreign object lodged inside, you need to avoid touching the eye with unclean hands and also try to avoid removing the lodged object.

8.       Cornea disease

Diseases of the cornea such as corneal ulcer, keratoconus or cornea dystrophy can result in cornea inflammation and eventually result to eye swelling.

9.       Systemic diseases (Dry Eye Syndrome)

Systemic diseases such as dry eye syndrome that cause dryness of the lining of the eyelid can sometimes result in burning sensation and itching in the pet’s eye and eventually cause swelling of the eyelid. If your dog is suffering from this condition your vet may prescribe specially-formulated eye drops and anti-inflammatory medications.

Other possible causes of dog’s eye swelling

  • Chemical burns
  • Glaucoma
  • Canine distemper
  • Swimming in chlorinated pools

How is Dog Eye Swelling Treated?

Usually treatment of a swollen in eye focuses in getting rid or reducing the severity of the accompanying symptoms. Some treatments can be done at home while others may require to be done by a professional veterinarian. There are also some causes of eye swelling in dogs that do not require any form of treatment, the swelling goes down by itself. Below are some of the possible treatment options for various underlying causes of eye swelling.

1.       Blocked tear duct


The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments. The antibiotics won’t unblock the tear duct but will help to relieve symptoms, prevent infection and clear up the discharge coming out of the pet’s eyes.

Tear duct probing

If the tear duct does not unblock on its own after sometime, the vet can conduct a procedure known as tear duct probing, whereby she places a thin probe into one or both holes that tears drain through and opens up the tissue that blocks the tear duct. This is a very simple procedure that will not cause any harm to your dog’s eyes.


Massaging of the lacrimal sac is the simplest and easiest ways to fix a blockage of tear duct in dogs. Lacrimal sac is the area where tears drain from the eye into the tear duct. To massage your pet’s lacrimal sac, take a cotton swab or use clean fingers and gently rub the lower corners of your dog’s eyes for a few minutes. The pressure from massage can pop open the membrane tissue that covers the tear duct.

Other possible treatment for blocked tear duct

  • Surgery
  • Intubation
  • Balloon catheter dilation

2.       Eye Tumors

There are various ways a veterinarian can employ to get rid of the tumors from your do’s eye and many of these ways will depend on the diagnosis, size and aggressiveness of the tumor and other factors. Small tumors may respond to laser treatment or freezing (cryotherapy). Depending on diagnosis, the vet may also opt for surgery.

3.       Canine Blepharitis

Most of blepharitis cases in dogs can be treated at home by use of warm compress. If for a given period of time warm compress does not work, you need to consult your vet, who may prescribe treatments such as:

  • Antibiotic medication to fight infection
  • Topical anti-inflammatory medications
  • Medications that stimulate immune system.

4.       Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Treatment of conjunctivitis is usually focused on relieving symptoms. Some of the possible treatments that can be used in this regard include:

  • Applying a warm compress to your dog’s eye.
  • Over-the-counter eye drops known as artificial tears.
  • Doses of antibiotic medications to prevent recurrence of conjunctivitis.

5.       Foreign object

If your pet has a foreign body or object stuck in the eye, you need to call the veterinarian to remove it. Do not attempt to remove it by yourself.

6.       Allergies

Treatment of allergies in pets may include use of antihistamines medications. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine receptor cells and thereby reducing the symptoms of allergies.

The best way to deal with allergy in your dog is to ensure that your dog stays in a clean environment to minimize coming in contact with allergens.

7.       Traumatic Injuries

Treatment of eye trauma will involve use of anti-inflammatory and painkillers medications. Also, antibiotics may be prescribed by your vet in order to prevent infections.

8.       Cornea disease

There are various methods a veterinarian can used to deal with cornea condition responsible for swollen eyes in your pet. Many of these methods will depend on the diagnosis and severity of the condition and other underlying factors.

9.       Systemic diseases (Dry Eye Syndrome)

Dry eye syndrome is a systemic disease that treatment may be unable to cure. However, most of its symptoms such as dryness, scratchiness and burning sensation can be managed successfully. Your vet may recommend lubricating eye drops and ointments.


Eye inflammation in dogs should be diagnosed by a veterinarian for a good treatment. Before trying any remedy, contact or visit him for directives.

Additional Resources:

  1. Swollen Eyes in dogs: wagwalking.com
  2. Eye inflammation in dogs: petmd.com

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