Why Is my Dogs Eye Red? Common Causes and Treatments

Medically reviewed by Nicole Wanner, DVM

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Red eyes that don't go away in dogs are abnormal and should be treated by a veterinarian. If your dog has a history of eye problems, it's critical to give your veterinarian a call as soon as symptoms are noticed.

Red eyes may be a symptom of a severe issue or illness, such as an unknown object in the eye, pink eye, cataracts, glaucoma, corneal ulcers, or injury.

But, they may also be a sign of allergies or discomfort from dust or pollen. Some triggers of red eyes are an urgent problem that must be handled as soon as possible so that your dog's vision and comfort are preserved.

Your veterinarian will figure out what's causing the issue and determine how to manage or repair it. Severe eye problems can necessitate surgery and a referral to a veterinarian who specializes in eye care.


Unfortunately, as with most conditions, some breeds are more prone to developing eye problems than others. These breeds include the following:

  • English Springer Spaniels are prone to cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Poodles are prone to developing glaucoma.
  • Siberian Husky: Hereditary cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and PRA are common genetic eye problems in Siberian Huskies. Since these three eye disorders are so common in Siberian Huskies, systems have been created to ensure that breeding dogs have been examined for these particular conditions.
  • Great Danes: Entropion (where the eyelid rolls inwards) is particularly prevalent in Great Danes. This condition may cause discomfort, swelling, and scar tissue in the eyes.
  • Boston Terriers, Beagles, Bloodhounds, Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, St. Bernards, and Shar-Pei are prone to developing cherry eyes.
  • German Shepherd: GSDs have the highest genetic risk of Chronic Superficial Keratitis compared to other dog breeds. It's thought to be caused by the immune system. The cornea is unexpectedly treated as foreign by the dog's body due to a cellular malfunction. While there is no cure, there are ways to control the disease's progression.


Cherry eye is a common condition in dogs that affects the gland in a membrane found in the eye, also known as the third eyelid, located in the inner corner of the dog's eye. Young dogs are more likely to develop cherry eyes. A tear gland attachment defect may cause the tear gland to prolapse and protrude from behind the third eyelid, causing a reddened mass to appear.

Cherry eye is generally not known to be painful in and of itself, but exposure to the air is more likely to upset this particular gland. Surgery to repair this condition is the most common treatment option. Cherry eye, if left untreated, can progress to dry eye, conjunctivitis, and corneal ulcers, which can become chronic, painful, and even result in blindness.


A defect in the tear film causes dry eyes in dogs (keratoconjunctivitis sicca). The cornea and conjunctiva will dry out as the watery part of the eye are lost, causing an inflammatory response. Immune-mediated dry eye is commonly the source of the problem, but there are potentially other causes of conjunctivitis in dogs.

Some systemic disorders, such as diabetes, Cushing's, or hypothyroid-related conditions, in addition to eye drops and other types of medication, can be other triggers. Dry eye can cause increased discharge from the eye, corneal ulcers, and irritation if not treated.

Watery eyes are a natural reaction to an irritant in the eye that allows it to be flushed out. Excessive weeping may be caused by an ulcer, allergies from the environment, an ulcer, damage to the eye, glaucoma, inflammation from unnecessary fur around the eye, a tear duct blockage, and various other conditions. A comprehensive eye exam is essential, regardless of the cause.


Hair rubbing on the cornea (the transparent membrane across the surface of the eye) will cause scratches, so keep all hair out of your dog's eyes.

Keep mucus out of your eyes at all times. To keep the skin around the eyes clean, use a sterile eyewash and eye wipes. To avoid damaging the eye, make sure not to hit the cornea with the tip of the eyewash bottle or the wipe.

Before bathing or washing your dog's face, use an ophthalmic ointment to cover your eyes. Even 'tearless' shampoos will irritate the eyes if too much gets into them or if they aren't rinsed out quickly enough.


A well-balanced diet can prove invaluable to your dog's eye health. Certain nutrients are more beneficial than others including:


Zinc is thought to aid in the protection of the eye against inflammation and harmful light rays. Many holistic veterinarians believe it can also help slow the progression of vision loss caused by various eye disorders. Lentils, spinach, liver, and seafood all contain it naturally. These can be used as food toppings for your pup.


Lutein, astaxanthin, and zeaxanthin are antioxidant-rich compounds found in leafy greens and vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables. They're thought to help shield eyes from sun damage and minimize the chance of cataracts. Sweet potatoes are excellent source of Carotenoids.


Carotenoids are abundant in blueberries. They also contain zinc, selenium, and anthocyanin phytonutrients, shown to aid night vision. They're also high in flavonoids, including resveratrol and quercetin, which may assist in the prevention of macular degeneration.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines, and cod, are high in Omega-3s, especially DHA and EPA, which are important for cellular regeneration.

Other Natural Options To Consider

CBD oil for dogs has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects. The retina is particularly susceptible, as it can easily become inflamed due to allergies, disease, or injury.


If you find something unusual in your dog's eyes, such as excessive tearing, colored discharge, lumps or bumps, redness, or swelling, you should see your veterinarian right away.

Many severe eye disorders are degenerative and can progress rapidly if left untreated. When it comes to your dog's vision, it's better to be safe than sorry.


When it comes to eye care, as with any other type of health issue, it's critical to observe your dog closely (especially if your dog has a history of eye conditions or dog eye allergies). Observing your pup and seeing changes in their appearance, body language, and attitudes can reveal more than you would think. Watch not only for red eyes but any swelling or excessive fluids.

  • https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/eye-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-cornea-in-dogs
  • https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/eye-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-lens-in-dogs
  • https://www.msdvetmanual.com/eye-diseases-and-disorders/chlamydial-conjunctivitis/chlamydial-conjunctivitis-in-animals?query=conjunctivitis
  • https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/diagnosis-treatment-of-keratoconjunctivitis-sicca-in-dogs/
  • https://cgejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2052-6687-1-3
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