Bloodshot eyes in dogs

Updated April 17, 2017

A pet dog's health can be cause of concern for affectionate owners. The first notice of any difference in appearance or behaviour is an opportunity to ward off disease or address a need of the pet. Bloodshot eyes, or eye redness, is due to swollen or dilated blood vessels, according to Medline Plus, a health resource website. This condition can warn of illnesses that require such solutions as eye drops or antibiotics, and may be easily fixable or permanent.


Bloodshot eyes are one symptom of conjunctivitis, which can be caused by allergies or something in the eye, and is paired with a watery discharge from the eye. Removing the allergens can clear up the redness, and eye drops are sometimes recommended to speed up the healing. Prompt attention is appropriate to prevent the dog's scratching at their eyes and contributing to the irritation.


Uveitis causes red eyes through an inflammation within the eye. This syndrome appears more often in large dog breeds bred for cold weather and must be addressed by a veterinarian because it can be an symptom of a more serious infection. Eye drops and antibiotics are often prescribed.


Bloodshot eyes can be an indicator of glaucoma, which can lead to blindness, and is caused by increased pressure within the eyes. It can be treated by surgery, eye drops and alternative methods. If left untreated, the pressure within the eyes can cause partial or full blindness. Glaucoma comes on and worsens over a long period of time, but early detection can prevent unnecessary surgeries or inconvenience.

Tips and Warnings

A dog may scratch at their itchy, bloodshot eyes and increase the irritation of the condition or cause open sores on their faces. A veterinarian should be consulted regardless of the perceived cause of the bloodshot eyes because the red eyes can be an early indication of conditions requiring long-term care.

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About the Author

Annelies de Groot was first published in 2007. She has contributed to local east coast papers and has worked for environmental and educational nonprofits. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John's College in Maryland.