Eye redness in dogs is easy to spot. You may notice redness around the eye, along with swelling, discharge, pawing at the eye, squinting, or repeated blinking. Eye redness can be caused by an injury, irritation, or even a disease.

Regardless of the cause, the condition can be uncomfortable and even painful for your pet, so a veterinary visit is in order right away. 

Causes of Eye Redness in Dogs

When dogs see the veterinarian for eye redness, here are the typical causes:

  • Trauma. Nothing causes eye redness in dogs more reliably than a poke to the eye with a branch or other foreign object. 
  • Environmental irritants. Cigarette smoke, pollen, dust, and other irritants can cause eye redness in dogs. 
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis. This often occurs secondarily to another eye condition, but it can cause eye redness in dogs.
  • Viral conjunctivitis. This form of conjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the eye) is more common than the bacterial form, especially in dogs with distemper. 
  • Corneal disease. Diseases of the cornea – such as pannus – can affect not only the clear covering of the eye but other eye structures as well. 
  • Glaucoma. Increased pressure in the eye can cause redness in the whites of the eye. 
  • Skin disease. Mange, cancer, and skin allergies can all cause irritation, itching, and eye redness in dogs.
  • Systemic disease. Eye problems can often indicate other systemic and related disease, including pannus, leptospirosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. 

What Your Veterinarian Will Do About Eye Redness In Dogs

When your dog visits the veterinarian for eye redness, there are a few diagnostics that need to be done to determine the cause of the problem. These may include:

  • A full physical exam
  • A medical history and your observations of your dog’s behavior
  • An ocular exam, including evaluation of the inside of the eye, nerves, and lens
  • A corneal stain
  • Intraocular pressure
  • Tests to determine eye dryness
  • Skin evaluation
  • Allergy testing

If your dog’s eye problem is severe, we may refer your dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist for further diagnostics and treatment.

Watchful and Aware

It’s important to note that eye problems, especially if painful for your dog, are considered emergencies and should be seen immediately. Watch for:

  • Pawing at the eye
  • Squinting, refusing to open the eye
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Swollen or red eye or eyes
  • Opaqueness of the eye

Many eye problems can be accompanied by other signs such as poor appetite, lethargy, or fever. 

If you are on your way to the veterinarian, a cool compress with a damp cloth can be soothing. Try to avoid actually touching the surface of the eye. Prevent your dog from pawing at or itching the eye by placing a soft e-collar until you can get to the veterinarian. Never put anything into your pet’s eyes without consulting your veterinarian

If you have any questions about eye redness in dogs or eye health, please don’t hesitate to give Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital a call.