May 25, 2024

How to Treat Bloodshot Eyes in Dogs: A Complete Guide

Red eyes in dogs are a common issue, reflecting underlying conditions that range from minor irritants to serious medical problems. If you notice red eyes in your dog, it's critical to consult a veterinarian promptly. Here’s what you need to know about red eyes in dogs, their potential causes, accompanying symptoms, and treatment options.

Types of Red Eyes in Dogs

Episcleral Injection

This type of redness is caused by congested blood vessels in the sclera, often indicating intraocular diseases such as uveitis or glaucoma.

Conjunctival Hyperemia

Redness resulting from congestion of blood vessels in the conjunctiva, commonly due to conditions like conjunctivitis.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

Characterized by diffuse redness from hidden blood vessels, this condition is often associated with trauma, over-restraint, clotting disorders, or strangulation.

Corneal Neovascularization

The formation of new blood vessels on the cornea, which may be due to scratches, keratitis, or diseases like uveitis or glaucoma.

Hyphema

This is the presence of blood in the anterior chamber of the eye, visible as redness or a red line, typically caused by trauma, clotting disorders, or hypertension.

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Symptoms Accompanying Red Eyes

Red eyes in dogs can be accompanied by various symptoms, including:

  • Third-eyelid inflammation
  • Eye discharge
  • Ruptured blood vessels
  • Swelling in or around the eye
  • Pain or discomfort, such as pawing, rubbing, or squinting

Causes of Red Eyes in Dogs

Allergies

Environmental allergens like pollen or dander can cause itchy red eyes. Treatment may include antihistamines or eye drops.

Conjunctivitis

This condition involves inflammation due to infections, trauma, or irritants and is treated with topical or oral medications.

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)

Also known as dry eye, KCS is due to low tear production. Treatment involves artificial tears and immune-stimulating medications.

Entropion

This condition occurs when the eyelids turn inward, causing irritation. It is usually corrected with surgery.

Cherry Eye

Inflammation of the gland in the third eyelid, treatable with anti-inflammatory drops or surgery.

Eye Injury or Trauma

Redness caused by external irritants or foreign materials, treatable with appropriate topical or oral medications.

Corneal Ulcers

Ulcers resulting from trauma or infections require aggressive treatment to prevent vision loss.

Glaucoma

Increased eye pressure leading to redness and potential blindness. Treatment involves medication and surgery.

Uveitis

This condition involves decreased eye pressure due to various factors and is managed with topical and oral medications.

Blepharitis

Inflammation of the eyelid, usually treatable depending on the cause.

Tumors

Growths behind or within the eye causing redness, possibly requiring surgical intervention.

High Blood Pressure

Can lead to ruptured blood vessels in the eye, addressed by treating the underlying condition.

Veterinary Diagnosis of Red Eyes in Dogs

Proper diagnosis involves several steps:

History and Physical Exam

Gathering a comprehensive medical history and conducting an eye examination.

Lab Tests

Includes chemistry profile, blood count, electrolyte panel, and urinalysis to identify underlying problems.

Non-invasive Eye Tests

Diagnostic tests include:

  • Schirmer Tear Test to measure tear production for diagnosing KCS.
  • Fluorescein Stain for checking corneal ulcers.
  • Tonometry to measure intraocular pressure for diagnosing glaucoma or uveitis.

Advanced Testing

In some cases, ultrasound, blood pressure monitoring, CT scans, or MRI may be needed for a detailed diagnosis.

Treatment for Red Eyes in Dogs

Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may involve:

Immediate Veterinary Appointment

Scheduling an examination as soon as possible to address the issue promptly.

Emergency Care

In severe cases, consider seeking emergency veterinary care.

Home Care Tips

Some ways to support your dog's eye health at home include:

  • Using a cold compress to alleviate pain.
  • Avoiding exposure to potential triggers such as smoke, fumes, pollen, and dust.
  • Using pet-specific eye wash or artificial tears suitable for dogs.

Conditions and Treatments

Condition Description Potential Causes Treatment
Episcleral Injection Redness caused by congested blood vessels in the sclera, often indicating intraocular diseases like uveitis or glaucoma. Intraocular diseases such as uveitis or glaucoma. Consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Conjunctival Hyperemia Redness resulting from congestion of blood vessels in the conjunctiva, commonly due to conditions like conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis. Topical or oral medications prescribed by a veterinarian.
Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Diffuse redness from hidden blood vessels, often associated with trauma, over-restraint, clotting disorders, or strangulation. Trauma, over-restraint, clotting disorders, or strangulation. Consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Corneal Neovascularization Formation of new blood vessels on the cornea, which may be due to scratches, keratitis, or diseases like uveitis or glaucoma. Scratches, keratitis, or diseases like uveitis or glaucoma. Consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Hyphema Presence of blood in the anterior chamber of the eye, visible as redness or a red line, typically caused by trauma, clotting disorders, or hypertension. Trauma, clotting disorders, or hypertension. Consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Ensuring early detection and treatment of red eyes in dogs is crucial to prevent complications, such as vision loss or more severe health issues. If you notice any signs of red eyes in your dog, seek veterinary care promptly to ensure their eye health and overall well-being.

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