Home / Dog Health / Red Eyes in Dogs (with Discharge, Swollen): What to do

Red Eyes in Dogs (with Discharge, Swollen): What to do

Red eyes in dogs may be permanent or temporary depending on the causative agent. The dog may have one red eye or both bloodshot eyes depending on the causes. Allergies can be contained but underlying health issues or defects can cause permanent redness. Red eyes occur when there are internal or external inflammations on the eyes that make the blood vessels allow a larger volume of blood to flow in them.

Any condition that causes the enlargement of the blood vessels in the eyes will lead to red eyes in dogs. There are breeds of dogs that are more prone to diseases that cause red eyes. Consult a vet for diagnosis and proper treatment for your dog’s bloodshot eyes.

Why does my Dog have Red Eyes?

Some of the causes directly affect the eye while others are side effects of an underlying health issue. The following are common reasons for reddening of dogs eyes:-

1.       Conjunctivitis

The eyes are delicate organs made up tissues and blood vessels. The thin transparent tissue that covers the white part of the eye and acts as a lining for the inner parts of the eyelid is known as conjunctiva tissue. The word conjunctivitis is derived from the name of this tissue. It refers to the infection or trauma on the conjunctiva tissue .An infection or trauma will make these tissue swollen and may become sore if left untreated for a while.

Conjunctivitis is caused by dry eyes irritants in the air such as smoke, dust and aerosols. Some underlying health issues like an infection in the upper respiratory tract is likely to cause conjunctivitis.

The eyes of your dog will be watery, swollen, itchy and highly irritable. Dogs born with defects on their eyelids such that the fur that surrounds the eyelids often grazes the eye will suffer from blood shot eyes from time to time. It is advisable to trim off these hairs as soon as they grow long enough to get into the eye. Sounds like extra expense but you have no choice if you truly love your dog.

These eye complications require special treatment by a professional vet. Do not ignore a change in the colour of your dog’s eyes. You should also develop a culture of regularly taking your dog for examination.

2.       Glaucoma

 Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that occurs when there is an imbalance in the pressure exerted on the eyeball due to improper drainage of the special fluids that fill the eyeballs. Some of the causes of this improper drainage include trauma to the eye, eye diseases, eye tumours and inflammation of the eye tissues.

It can occur in any breed of dogs but some dogs are more prone to getting glaucoma as compared to other breeds. Example of vulnerable dogs is poodles, spaniels, cockers and Samoyeds.

One of pronounced symptoms of glaucoma includes blood shot eyes. Other symptoms of glaucoma to watch out for include; sunken eyeballs, cloudy or grey shade over the eyeball, split pupil, too much blinking, boogers on the eyes. In serious cases glaucoma can lead to blindness.

3.       Injury or Trauma to the Eye

Injury or trauma to the eye can be caused by a sharp object pricking the eyes or the dog getting hit in the eye by a blunt object. Branches, twigs and thorns are likely to traumatize a dog’s eye as it walks through a bushy environment.

Naughty people may also throw stones or other blunt objects at your dog. The trauma causes inflammation on the outer eye and this makes the blood vessels bulge allowing more blood to collect in them.

Sharp objects that manage to penetrate any part of the eye will cause pain and inflammation of the eye. Get your dog checked by a vet immediately or else the injury may turn into something worse and become complicated.

It is hard to prevent your dog from getting trauma or injury in the eye since it is accidental. However dogs that wander outside the home are likely to get injured as compare to house pets. Dogs that are used in hunting in the forests are prone to getting injuries on their faces as they run through the forest.

They may also get attacked by other animals or insects like bees that may sting the eyelids. Puppies should be given extra care and attention and not allowed to venture into risky environments.

4.       Allergens

Allergens are substances that are rendered by the immune system as a threat to the body. They may not be harmful but the body perceives them as harmful and hence fights them. This counter reaction of the immune system to allergies by producing histamine causes sides effects such as red or pink eyes, tears, wheezing, sneezing, itchy skin, runny nose among et al.

Allergens can be found in food substances; environment (plant, pollen grains, dust); in sect bites and stings. If you introduce your dog to a new type of food then they exhibit any of the symptoms above, you should stop feeding them and go back to the usual.

Insect stings cannot be prevented however you can get rid of wasp’s shelters in your compound and smoke out bees in the environment. Your vet should be able to control the effects of the allergic reaction by administering appropriate antihistamine to the dog as treatment.

5.       Foreign Objects

Foreign objects refer to any external material whether microscopic or macroscopic that may enter the eye and cause irritation. Leaves, grass, dust, wooden splints or any other object can accidentally form their way into your dog’s eyes making it tear and turn red. Red eyes in dogs caused by foreign objects only last for a short while after the foreign object has been removed from the eye.

If the object is visible you can sooth your dog into settling and letting you get the object out. If the object penetrated deep into the eye or inner lids, then you have to seek the help of a professional veterinarian.

Do not attempt to remove objects from the eyes of your dog that have penetrated the flesh of the eyelid or stuck on the eyeballs. You may add salt to the injury instead of salvaging the situation. The eye is a very sensitive organ that should be handled with care. You might think you are helping but end up jeopardizing your dog’s vision.

6.       Hair/Fur

Trimming of your dog’s hair is hygienic and healthy. Sometimes bugs live on dog’s fur and go unnoticed because of the thick tangled hair. Dogs that have a lot of fur tend to have the hair blocking their vision.

This warrants shaving off of the excess fur whenever it grows back. If you are not experienced in dog grooming then kindly take it to a professional groomer. Reaming of hair close to the eyes can be very tricky.

If you are not gentle or careful enough you will end up poking the eyes of your dog. The hair may also enter the dog’s eye and irritate it. There are simple home remedies which we shall discuss later than will come in handy if the dogs eye gets irritate during grooming.

What does Only one Red Eye in Dog mean?

One side of the dog’s eye might turn red while the other side retains its normal colour. This is likely caused by injury to the specific eye or irritation by a foreign object including hair during grooming.

However, some conditions like glaucoma or conjunctivitis may form on one side of the eye only but will eventually spread to the other eye as well if left untreated.

Thus you should not take changes in the eyes of your dog casually. Every abnormal observation should be of great concern. Pet and play with your dog as often as you can so that you may easily notice any significant changes in them.

Red skin around dog’s eye

Red skin around the eye of the dog that is not affecting the colour of the eye balls is likely to be caused by a rash or an allergic reaction on the skin of the dog. It has nothing to do with the eye.

Your vet will diagnose the skin around the eye and offer proper treatment of the causative agent. If it is caused by parasites then you will be advised on how to get rid of these parasites to avoid future recurrence of the rash.

Red Eyes in Dogs with Discharge

Eye infections or diseases are usually accompanied by thick discharge from the eye. A bacterial infection on the eye will produce pus like discharge from the eye that is likely to be cream or yellow-green in colour.

Eye diseases like conjunctivitis causes itchiness and discharge form the eye while glaucoma will produce thick semisolid discharge that is also a major cause of dog eye boogers.

Watery and runny tears like discharge are caused by irritation to the eye either by allergens or by foreign objects. Do not ignore any of these discharges from your dog’s eye. Since it is easy to observe discharge from the eye, as soon as you notice any fluids flowing out of your pet’s eye, check for blood shot eyes then take your dog to a vet or call the vet to come attend to your dog within the comfort of your home.

Home Remedies for Red Eyes in Dogs

Most of these home remedies will help in reducing inflammation. Itchiness and soreness of the red eyes in dogs as it heals. They are effective and yield results.

But still ensure your vet counter checks if the dog is okay because some serious diseases like conjunctivitis, tumours or glaucoma cannot be treated using these home remedies. Below are few insights on the home remedies for red eyes in canines.

1.       Salty Water

Salty water is ideal for cleaning and disinfecting the eye especially when there is discharge involved. It will prevent secondary infections to the eye

What you need

  1. Salt
  2. Water
  3. A clean piece of clothe
  4. A basin


  1. Pour a litre of clean warm water into a basin
  2. Add a handful of salt to it
  3. Ensure that your hands are clean and germs free
  4. Dip the clean piece of cloth into the salty water and wring it a bit so that it stay dump still
  5. Use it to wipe off the discharge form your dog’s eye

2.       Tea Bags

Tea bags are absorbent and will help in absorbing discharge from the eyes of your dog. In addition tea is rich in a chemical compound called tannin that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. It will soothe swollen eyes and ease the swelling on the eye.


  1. Tea Bags
  2. Water

What to do

  1. For a watery airs just hold a dry teabag against the eye and let it absorb the discharge
  2. For a swollen eye. Add few drops of water on the tea bag so that the juice can lace the swollen eye and the tannin in the tea work on reducing the eye inflammation.

How is Dog Red Eye Treated?

Treatment of red eye in dog depends on the causative agent. Some of the causes of red eyes in dogs can be resolved using simple home remedies as discussed earlier while other requires special clinical treatment.

According to banfield.com” Your veterinarian will choose treatment for your dog’s eye redness based on the underlying cause. Some treatments will include a topical medication that goes into your pet’s eye, and in some cases, your veterinarian may also prescribe injections or an oral medication.”

Red eyes in dogs that are as a result of a disease or an underlying health issue is treated by treating the disease. If it is a symptoms of a disease or a condition then the eye will get better and back to normal once the diseases is cured.

Glaucoma can be contained if detected at an early stage .There are medication that can help in lowering the pressure of the eyeball. Other cases will require surgery in order to balance the pressure within the eye. If the glaucoma advance to a very complex stage the eye of the dog will have to be removed permanently .So kindly find the need to see your vet as soon as you notice anything weird on your dog.             

Conjunctivitis is treated using prescribed ointments as well treating any underlying health condition that maybe contributing to it.                                                                                                

Try and keep the environment around your dog safe from harmful objects that may affect their eye. Choose to walk and exercise your dog on clear paths and ensure that you tether them while at it. Some of the causes of red eyes in dogs are accidental so it may be hard to prevent them but you can always take precautions. You can get a health insurance cover for your dog if possible so that if any of these problems arise it will be easier to afford the bills.

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