Is your dog’s eye red and swollen?
Are you wondering how to treat a dog eye infection at home?
Eye redness in dogs is tricky, because there are so many possible causes.
Your dog could have debris in their eye, irritating it and causing it to be red and painful.
Or, they may have an infection or seasonal allergies making their eyes itchy and red.
Very different causes— necessitating very different treatments.
The fact is, eye redness in dogs is one of those medical issues that usually will require a vet visit to know if a home remedy is even an option.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you might not be able to employ a home remedy for dog eye redness or a dog eye infection – it means you need to see your holistic vet first to figure out what is causing the redness, then work with them to determine if natural treatment is possible or if conventional medicine is necessary.
For example, if your vet determines it’s a case of mild dog eye discharge; home remedy treatment may be a possibility. But if there is debris in your dog’s eye, you will need the vet to flush the eye to remove the debris before it damages the cornea.
Many articles I read, written by holistic veterinarians, said that a fair amount of eye infections require medical intervention in the form of antibiotics, eye drops, or an eye ointment.
But even though home remedies can’t singlehandedly cure every case of eye irritation, eye injuries, or dog conjunctivitis; home treatment can support and speed up the healing process.
Why Does My Dog Have Red Eyes
Important Disclaimer: I am not a vet. Not even close! My goal is to share my own personal experience and information I have gathered; not to give medical advice.
If you think you want to try something you read about here, talk to your vet! But first read this and many more articles to empower yourself for a good discussion in which you can ask your vet great questions about what you want to try.
Knowledge is power – never forget that!
There are many issues that can cause your dog to have red eyes.
The medical term for these red eyes is conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the clear tissue called the conjunctiva that lines the eyelids and covers the white part of the eyes.
In addition to red eyes, you may also see symptoms such as swelling, pawing at the eyes, squinting or blinking, or rubbing their face on the ground or carpet.
As you read through the list of causes below, you will see why treatment varies so widely and a vet visit is usually necessary.
What causes red eyes in dogs
Here is an overview of the most common causes of red eyes in dogs:
Eye Injury Or Trauma
Eye injury or trauma to the eye can come from an endless list of causes. Perhaps your dog scratched their cornea while playing with another dog, or poked their eye while chewing a stick.
If the injury is superficial and only affects the outermost layer of the cornea, it is called a corneal abrasion. If it is deeper, extending to the middle layer of the cornea, it is called a corneal ulcer.
If only one of your dog’s eyes is red, eye injury or trauma to the eye may be the cause.
Foreign Object In Eye
Redness in only one eye can also occur if your dog gets a foreign object in their eye.
Most of us have experienced getting a foreign object in our eye — perhaps a bug flew into it, or the wind blew debris into your eye. If you’ve had that happen, you know how painful and uncomfortable it is, and how hard it can be to get the foreign object out of your eye.
Environmental Irritants And Allergens
Another cause of eye redness in dogs can occur from exposure to environmental irritants and allergens.
Your dog may be allergic to tree pollen, grass, or flowers.
Or they may be reacting to dust, dirt, or smoke in the air.
All of these can irritate the mucous membranes surrounding the eyes, causing them to become red, inflamed, or watery. Many times the redness is accompanied by constant itchiness and discharge.
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve that can be caused by disease, inherited anatomical defects, or injury. Symptoms include dry eyes, swollen eyelids, light sensitivity, and itching or burning eyes.
Dry eye, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), occurs when your dog doesn’t produce enough tears. When the eye becomes dry, it can be painful as the eyelid opens and shuts without the moisture needed to keep the eyelid from sticking and rubbing the eye.
Entropion, Ectropion, or Ectopic Cilia
Your dog may have a condition in which the eyelid is not formed or is not functioning correctly.
Entropion is a condition in which the dog’s eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes and surrounding hair to rub against the dog’s cornea. This irritates the sensitive cornea, and if not caught and treated quickly, can lead to a corneal ulcer in the affected eye. Both upper and lower eyelids can be affected, and one or both eyes.
Ectropion is a condition in which the lower eyelid is rolled outward, exposing the delicate mucous membrane. Without protection from the lower eyelid, your dog’s eye becomes dry, red and irritated, and can easily become infected.
Both entropion and ectropion usually require surgery for correction, although mild cases can sometimes be resolved with bacterial or lubricating drops.
Ectopic cilia is a condition where one or more eyelashes grow on the inside of the eyelid. As you can imagine, this is very painful for the dog, and over time can cause damage to the cornea.
The most common treatment for Ectopic cilia is sedating the dog and using electrolysis to burn the hair follicle so it can’t grow hair anymore.
How Will My Vet Treat Eye Redness In Dogs?
As you can tell from the wide range of causes of eye redness in dogs discussed above, in most cases you will need to visit your holistic vet to determine the cause.
Only then can you choose the best treatment.
There are 3 basic tests that your vet might do to determine why your dog’s eye is red:
- Fluorescein staining detects superficial scratches or corneal ulcers.
- A Schirmer tear test will determine if your dog is producing sufficient tears (lubrication) in their eye
- If glaucoma is suspected, the vet will use a tonometer to measure the pressure inside your dog’s eyes.
The vet will also do a thorough exam of the dog’s eye and external eyelids.
Treatment May Include:
- Irrigating your dog’s eye to remove any irritating substances or foreign objects.
- Prescribing one or more of the following:
- antibacterial ointments to resolve bacterial infections
- anti-inflammatory eye drops to address swelling
- One of two commonly used medications that stimulate tear production if dry eye is diagnosed (tacrolimus or cyclosporine)
Holistic Treatment For Red Eyes In Dogs:
I wish I could tell you there was a magic dog dry eye home remedy, or that your holistic vet will send you home with a home remedy for your dog’s eye discharge or conjunctivitis.
The fact is, if your dog has red or irritated eyes you not only need to see a vet, but you may end up with conventional medications – because many conditions that cause red eyes in dogs may require conventional intervention along with holistic support.
If your dog’s eye issue is extremely mild, you might get away with a thorough rinse and some eye lubrication drops to soothe the eye while it heals.
But for many of the issues above, your vet will want to play it safe and treat it conventionally. Because if an infection worsens, or if irritation isn’t stopped, your dog could end up with a more severe problem – and in a worst-case scenario – lose their sight.
So it’s not something you want to mess with.
That said, they will talk to you about natural ways to prevent recurrence and support healing.
So, as a natural dog owner, you still can make a difference using holistic methods to support your dog’s healing.
If you take supportive actions that help your dog’s eye heal, you prevent the need for a repeat course of treatment. . . AND you could prevent it from happening again down the road.
Chiropractic Support For Eye Redness In Dogs
A visit to her holistic vet determined that her dog had conjunctivitis caused by smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces near their home. Her vet is also a veterinary chiropractor, and adjusted her dog’s neck and jaws, commenting that eye conditions often respond to alignment corrections. This adjustment, coupled with a healing therapy called Jin Shin Jyutsu, and herbal eye drops restored her dog’s eye to health quickly.
Acupuncture For Eye Redness In dogs
Puotinen also discussed what she had read about acupuncture for various eye conditions in Dr. Randy Kidd’s Whole Dog Journal article The Structure of the Eye in which he states “all sorts of eye irritations typically respond favorably to acupuncture.”
For example, if a veterinary acupuncturist were to treat conjunctivitis, they might diagnose excess heat of the liver. Needles would then be positioned to bring the liver back into balance.
Preventing Eye Redness In Dogs
Even though there aren’t many home remedies for dog eye infections and irritations, you can take steps to help prevent eye redness and irritation from recurring.
- Trim eye hair
Breeds with long hair growing around the eyes are more prone to eye irritation and eye redness. Giving your dog’s hair a trim not only helps them see more clearly, but prevents the hairs from falling against the eye and causing irritation.
- Wipe your dog’s eyes
If you notice your dog has discharge or red eyes, try gently wiping the discharge away with a warm, damp cloth. On multiple occasions I’ve noticed discharge in my dog’s eye and when gently wiping the eye, saw the offending blade of grass or piece of dirt stuck in the corner of the eye. Another few careful wipes and I was able to gently wipe it away and remove it.
- Be alert
If you see your dog pawing at their eye, or rubbing their face along the ground, take a moment to check their eye and see if you see any redness, swelling, or foreign particles. The sooner you catch it, the easier it will be to treat.
- Keep car windows shut
We all love to see a dog hanging its head out the window, tongue lolling and blowing in the breeze – but it’s unfortunately also an easy way for your dog to get a foreign object in their eye which requires a vet visit. Keep the windows closed, and to truly keep your dogs safe buckle them up! (check out these Crash Tested Dog Seat Belt Alternatives)
Eye Redness In Dogs
I know you probably clicked this article hoping to learn how to treat your dog’s red eyes at home.
Even though you might be bummed that there is no easy home remedy for eye redness in dogs, you have empowered yourself by learning about the causes of eye redness, how important seeing a vet is, and how you can support healing and prevent eye redness at home.
And if your friend asks you “How do I treat my dog’s red eye?” you will be able to help them realize that their dog most likely will need help from a vet.
If you’ve had a dog that was treated for red or irritated eyes, share your story below so we can all benefit from your experience – that is truly the best way to learn!
Until next time-
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