Bloodshot Eyes in Dogs

If your dog’s adorable eyes suddenly look red and irritated, don’t panic! Canine bloodshot eyes look scary, but they are harmless and rarely anything to worry about. However, to help your puppy recover their eyes and reduce the pain caused by the bloodshot eyes, it is best to find the cause. Read on to learn everything you should know about this condition.

bloodshot eyes in dogs

What do Bloodshot Eyes in Dogs Look Like?

Although every dog has different overall symptoms, the eyes look similar across the board. A dog who has this condition has red eyes with irritated lines throughout the white of its eyes. Sometimes, depending on the severity and the cause, your dog also displays swollen eyes and irritation symptoms. It is not enough to see your dog’s eyes in their bloodshot red state to know what that means. Instead, you should monitor your puppy to see if they have any other symptoms that could cause redness in their eyes.

Common signs that your dog’s bloodshot eyes are not normal include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • High fever accompanied by chills
  • Sudden exhaustion
  • Lack of appetite

It is a problem if your dog’s eyes continuously look bloodshot. Sometimes the cause for this is simple, your dog’s eyes should be back to normal in just a few hours! If not, this could be a sign that whatever is irritating your puppy’s eyes is still causing discomfort.

Common Causes for Bloodshot Eyes in Dogs

There are many different possible causes for a dog’s eyes to be bloodshot.

Listed below are the four main causes:


The first cause is exhaustion. If your dog is having trouble falling asleep at night or staying asleep throughout the night, this could cause your dog’s eyes to dry out and redden in irritation and discomfort. If your dog is not sleeping well, there is usually a reason. Once you notice this behavioral change, take it up with your dog’s local vet to start the diagnosis and treatment stages.


Some dogs react badly to common allergens and this can cause their eyes to become red and bloodshot. This is very common in dogs with large eyes that are exposed to the light and allergens such as: pollen, dirt, debris, and dust. It’s impossible to shield your dog’s eyes from all allergens, especially if they are environmental. However, cleaning their fur regularly and brushing them outside to get rid of excessive dandruff and debris can decrease the overall redness.

Injury to the Eye

An injury to your dog’s eye, like a small scratch or trauma, can also cause your dog’s eye to look bloodshot, red, and irritated. Don’t worry, though; most dog breeds have deep sunken eyes that are protected from things like weather and trauma from debris, dust, and small objects.

Flat Faces

This eye condition is a problem with dogs that have flat faces. Brachycephalic dog breeds, or dog breeds with flat faces like pugs and bulldogs, are at high risk for developing bloodshot eyes. There are a lot of health issues and concerns, especially with the eyes. For example, a pug’s eyes are large, and since the face is flat, the eyes almost bulge out uncomfortably, offering no protection from debris and bugs flying in the wind.


There are many treatments to think of when it comes to bloodshot eyes. Since there are dozens of causes, it’s important to find the cause of this condition before determining treatment. A veterinarian will prescribe medications appropriate for your dog’s eye condition. For many minor issues, like seasonal allergies or a small scratch on your dog’s eyes, your dog can be treated at home with medicated eye drops and/or ointments.
As your dog’s eyes start to go back to normal, try and discourage them from scratching or rubbing at their eye. Fur, dirt, and other debris will continue to irritate it. It’s a lot worse to have an eye infection instead of bloodshot eyes.

Talk to a Veterinarian if Your Dog’s Eyes are Bloodshot

Overall, protecting your dog when they have bloodshot eyes is very important. Thankfully, most causes are common and nothing to worry about. As scary as it is to witness your puppy’s eyes turn bright red and irritated, as long as they show no other extreme signs of sickness, they are okay!

If you notice that your dog’s eyes are bloodshot or see any symptoms out of the ordinary, it is best to contact a veterinarian. At Emergency Veterinary Care Centers, we have multiple locations that are staffed with compassionate teams that will be there for you and your pet 24/7. We will find the cause for your dog’s bloodshot eyes and develop the best course of action for treatment.

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