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Why Are My Dog's Eyes Red?

Why Are My Dog's Eyes Red?

Just like humans, a dog can develop red eyes when they are irritated. Irritation can occur due to several reasons such as dry eyes, infections, foreign objects, or physical trauma to the eye. Today, our Vienna vets discuss causes and treatments for your dog's red eyes and how you can help your pup.

A dog's eyes are quite similar to ours. They are active organs that are constantly adjusting themselves, working to transmit what your pup sees to their brain.

As you have surely experienced with your own eyes, there are a whole host of things that may cause them to become irritated and noticeably red, from external irritants to excessive dryness and disease. Some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to developing red, irritated eyes as well as the associated health issue.

Flat-faced breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus as well as breeds with long hair around their eyes like Sheepdogs, Maltese, and Poodles can all be at greater risk of developing red eyes than other dogs. Likewise, older dogs will develop issues with their eyes causing them to become red more often, especially if they have pre-existing conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Why Your Dog's Eyes Are Red

Noticeable redness in your dog's eyes generally indicates irritation and inflammation, which can be the result of many different eye health issues. The following are some of the most common health conditions that may be the reason your dog has red eyes.

If you believe your dog requires immediate treatment, contact an emergency vet or a certified ophthalmologist right away.


Just like you may get watery eyes and a stuffed-up nose when allergy season rolls around, your dog can get red, weepy eyes and become uncomfortable from any number of allergies.

These may be seasonal to pollen or the like, or they may be to your pup's food. If you notice that your pooch has red eyes and is itchy or sneezing more often without seasonal patterns, bring them to your vet for allergy testing.

Eye Injury or Trauma

This cause of red, irritated eyes can range from quite mild to very serious. Your dog may have a hair or piece of grass stuck in their eye that is irritating surface tissues and causing them to become red and inflamed.

Your pup may also have a scratch, cut, or another more serious abrasion that is difficult to detect. If you think that your dog has had a serious physical injury to their eye that is causing one or both of their eyes to become red, bring them to your vet as soon as you can.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS, dry eyes in dogs are caused by a deficiency in the moist film of tears that generally covers a healthy eye. When this film is thinner, it allows your pup's eye to dry out and become inflamed.

One of the most common causes of this condition is an immune-mediated disease in dogs that causes their tear gland to stop functioning properly. Other underlying conditions like diabetes can also have an impact on your dog developing dry eyes.


This itchy inflammation of the eye is also called "pink eye" and is relatively common in people. It affects the tissues covering your dog's eyes and generally only affects one eye at a given time.

This infection can be caused by environmental irritants, viruses, or bacteria. Because you likely don't know the case of your pet's pink eye, make sure you bring them to the vet for advice on how best to treat their irritated eyes.

What Are Treatments For Red Eyes in Dogs?

Since red eyes are a symptom of a whole host of eye-related health issues, a veterinary examination will be required to determine the root cause of your pup's discomfort. Any attempts to treat your dog's condition without knowing what it is that you're treating, won't likely help and may even be harmful.

That being said, some common treatments for health issues in your dog's eyes generally include medicinal, antibacterial, or anti-inflammatory eye drops or ointments. Your vet will be sure to walk you through the best way to administer these treatments for your dog's red eyes to make sure they are as comfortable and effective as possible.

You should never start treatment of your dog's red and irritated eyes without first consulting a vet.

In more extreme cases (like 'cherry eye') surgical intervention may be required.

Does your dog have red eyes that seem to be causing discomfort? Contact our Vienna vets today to get your pup the attention they deserve.

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Hope Advanced Veterinary Center is always accepting new patients! Our board-certified vets and specialists are passionate about restoring good health to Vienna's pets.

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