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Bloodshot Eyes in Dogs

There may be several reasons why your beloved furry is having bloodshot eyes. Normally, it isn't a cause for major concern, but it's certainly not to be ignored. Here's what you can do to help your pet...
DogAppy Staff
Last Updated: Jan 24, 2018
Dogs, being active and restless pets, often indulge in activities that give them their fair share of nicks and bruises. Even among the calmest of breeds, you are sure to find a few niggling things that are not too bothersome.
Eye maladies, on the other hand, are a little this and that. What it means is, that eye trouble can be caused by a host of reasons, ranging from silly to serious. The rule of thumb is, never ignore any symptoms of eye trouble in dogs, unless you've successfully determined the cause. As mentioned before, spotting red eyes in dogs may not indicate something grave every time, but it never hurts to be cautious, does it?
So where do our dogs get the so-hungover bloodshot eye from? It occurs when the blood vessels in the sclera (the white portion of the eyes) become enlarged due to irritation. This is what gives the characteristic 'bloodshot' look. In most cases, it can be due to foreign particles like grass or small splinters getting lodged in their eyes. Such particles can cause irritation, and result in bloodshot eyes. If the condition does not last beyond an hour or so, you can breathe easy. But, if the condition persists, or is accompanied by a watery discharge, it could be a serious matter.
What Causes Bloodshot Eyes in Dogs?

Debris Trapped in Eyes
It is common for dogs to have foreign particles like grass, wood pieces and debris trapped inside the eye. An important feature of a dog's eye is the third eyelid which serves the important purpose of protecting the eyes from foreign particles. However, when any speck of dirt or a splinter gets trapped beneath this eyelid, it can cause visible redness, especially in the corners of the eye. This is usually accompanied by excessive discharge from the tear glands, in an effort to wash away the debris collected in the eye. This way, the redness gets cleared within an hour, but this might take longer if the offensive particle is stubbornly lodged in the eye. Very gently, splash water into your dog's eye, to help her get rid of the particle. If the redness does not clear up, it would be best to seek a veterinarian's opinion.
Conjunctivitis
Redness, along with a watery discharge can also be symptoms of conjunctivitis or inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eyes. Conjunctivitis or pink eye, as it is also called, can cause itchiness, so you may observe your dog constantly scratching the eyes. Conjunctivitis may not always be painful, but it can cause complications, if left untreated. Here are the types of conjunctivitis that may affect your dog -
  • Keratoconjunctivitis is characterized by a slightly thicker, stringy discharge. It is the most common variant among dogs.
  • Serous conjunctivitis is when the eyes appear to be swollen, along with the pink tint. The accompanying discharge is mostly watery in appearance.
  • Follicular conjunctivitis is when the follicles on the lower side of the nictitating membrane become inflamed. This is followed by a mucus-like discharge.
  • Purulent conjunctivitis is the result of an infection, and is marked by a pus-like discharge from the eyes.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or dry eye is the name for the condition that is characterized by insufficient production of fluid or water in the tear glands, which is essential for lubrication of the eyes. The result of this fluid insufficiency in the eye can be a dry and red eye with a burning sensation.
You must take your dog to the veterinarian at the earliest appearance of any of the above symptoms. The doctor may prescribe a sterile eye wash solution to clear out the deposits of discharge from the eyes. In case of an infection, your dog may be prescribed topical antibiotics, which bring relief. It is necessary to keep your dog's eyes clean, in order to contain the inflammation. Also, keep him/her from scratching the eyes.
Allergies
Dogs are as susceptible to allergies as we are. A simple act of hanging their head out of the window during a car ride is enough to cause an allergic reaction in their eyes. If your dog has been swimming in a pool, the chlorine content in the water can redden his/her eyes. If your dog has been sprayed on by a skunk, it may leave him/her with bloodshot eyes. It is hard to list out all the allergies that may trigger these symptoms, but a visit to the veterinarian is a must to ensure the appropriate course of treatment.
Glaucoma
Glaucoma is caused when the pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve, which may result in blindness, if left untreated. It certainly sounds scary, but if you notice any persistent redness in your dog's eyes, it is important that you get him/her screened for the disease, especially if you also notice the following symptoms -
  • Constant blinking
  • Cloudy haze in the eye
  • Pupils that don't shrink when a light is flashed
  • Eyeballs receding in the head
  • Poor vision
Do make sure that you visit the veterinarian at the earliest appearance of these symptoms.
Proper diagnosis can play a key role in detecting and treating the underlying cause of redness in the eyes. In the meantime, you may help your dog by keeping the eyes clean by rinsing them properly. You can also opt for Doggles in order to protect their eyes from debris and other foreign objects. But, if the condition does not improve despite all your efforts, do visit a veterinarian at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This DogAppy article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a veterinarian.
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