When Your Dog’s Eyes Turn Red. Symptoms, Triggers, and Treatments

Seeing your dog gaze at you with those large, expressive eyes can truly warm your heart. However, when those eyes become inflamed and bloodshot, it can cause a sense of unease. The structure of a dog’s eyes is quite similar to that of humans, with a few notable exceptions. Dogs possess a third eyelid for additional eye protection, and their corneas are equipped with a higher number of rods. These rods allow dogs to excel at detecting light and motion, although their color perception is not as rich as ours.

There are numerous reasons why a dog might develop red eyes, many of which are easily treatable and not a significant cause for alarm. Nevertheless, if you observe that your dog’s eyes are red, it’s crucial to investigate the matter promptly.

What Leads to Red Eyes in Dogs?

There are several potential causes for your dog’s red eyes, ranging from physical trauma and foreign bodies in the eye to allergies and various eye disorders such as glaucoma, conjunctivitis, and dry eye. Some of these issues can be managed at home, while others require professional veterinary attention.

Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive eye examination and conduct various tests to pinpoint the root cause of your dog’s eye problem. Once the cause is identified, you can proceed with the appropriate treatment for your pet.

Here’s a brief overview of various causes, symptoms, and treatments for your dog’s red eyes:


Should your dog sustain an injury around the eye or if you observe sudden redness, it’s possible that a foreign object has entered the eye. Any foreign body, no matter how small, like a grain of sand, or a more significant injury, such as a stick jabbing the eye, can cause irritation and subsequent redness.


The Treatment

Inspect your dog’s eye to identify the foreign object. Utilize a canine eyewash or saline solution to rinse your dog’s eye. An Elizabethan collar might be necessary to prevent your dog from scratching or pawing at his eye. It’s advisable to have your dog’s eye examined by a vet to ensure it’s completely clear.

If an object is lodged in your dog’s eye, do NOT try to extract it yourself. Seek immediate veterinary assistance.


Allergies rank among the top causes of red eyes in dogs. Similar to humans, allergens can induce itchiness and discomfort in your dog’s eyes. If your dog is allergic to certain environmental factors or ingredients in his food, it can result in his eyes becoming irritated and taking on a red hue.


The Treatment

The optimal approach to treating red eyes caused by allergies is to take your dog to a vet for allergy tests. This will allow you and your vet to identify the allergens affecting your dog. You can then eliminate these allergens from your environment, modify your dog’s diet if required, and your vet may prescribe medication for your dog.

Fleas, pollen, dust mites, certain foods, some household cleaning products, perfumes, dander, feathers, and smoke are among the most common triggers of dog allergies. After your dog has been outside, wipe him down, use pet-safe cleaning products, keep his food dishes clean, and avoid using strong fragrances around him. If your dog’s allergies are severe, an air purifier can help to eliminate airborne irritants.

Dry Eye

If your dog is afflicted with dry eyes, it means he isn’t generating sufficient tears to maintain eye lubrication. This can result in his eyes becoming extremely dry and red.


The treatment

Various eyewashes can be used to maintain moisture and clarity in your dog’s eyes. Consult with your vet about the most suitable options for your dog and whether a prescription might be required.

Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye), which typically affects one eye, is fairly prevalent in dogs. It results in inflammation of the tissue lining the eye, causing the eye to turn red.


The treatment

Should your dog develop pink eye, it’s crucial to take him to the vet. The vet can diagnose the underlying cause of the issue and recommend the appropriate treatment. Your dog may require specific medications to reduce inflammation, or an antibiotic ointment if there’s a bacterial infection.

In uncommon instances, your dog might require surgical intervention. If a blocked tear duct is the source of the problem, your vet will need to clear the obstruction.


Glaucoma is a severe condition resulting from the accumulation of fluid and pressure within the eye. If not promptly addressed, it can culminate in blindness.


The treatment

Your veterinarian will provide medications to manage your dog’s glaucoma. In certain instances, surgical intervention may be necessary, or it might be required to remove the affected eye.


Uveitis refers to the inflammation of the tissue at the front of your dog’s eye, resulting in redness and discomfort. If not promptly treated, this condition can lead to blindness.



Your vet will likely prescribe a mix of antibiotic ointments and eye drops, along with oral medications. In extremely rare instances, it might be necessary to remove the eye.

If none of these conditions are the cause of your dog’s red eyes, there could be underlying health issues at work, such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or cancer. The redness in your dog’s eyes could be a sign to you and your vet that something is amiss, which is why immediate investigation is crucial. When uncertain, always consult your vet!

High Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure can result in the bursting of tiny blood vessels in the eye, resulting in a notably red appearance. If this condition is not addressed, it can progress to blindness. Addressing the root cause of the high blood pressure, potentially through oral medications, should aid in alleviating the redness in the eyes.

Do Certain Dog Breeds Have a Higher Susceptibility to Eye Problems?

Although any dog can experience red eyes, some breeds are more predisposed to eye problems than others. Breeds with long facial hair, older dogs, and brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds all have a higher likelihood of encountering certain eye conditions.

How to Safeguard Your Dog’s Eye Health

While it’s not always possible to prevent red eyes in your dog, there are several measures you can take to maintain optimal eye health:

If you observe that your dog has red eyes, it’s crucial to arrange a veterinary appointment as soon as possible. If your regular vet isn’t available, consider this a potential emergency and seek immediate attention from your local emergency vet for initial treatment and diagnosis.

If your dog is comfortable with it, you can use a pet-specific eye wash or eye wipe. If your dog’s tear production is low, artificial tear eye drops can be beneficial to lubricate the eye and surrounding tissues.

Want to know more about dog health?

Explore these informative blogs to deepen your understanding and enhance your care for your canine friend:

Each blog offers insights, tips, and techniques from professionals and experienced dog owners alike. Learn how to understand your dog’s health needs and establish a care routine built on trust and optimal well-being.

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