Why Are My Puppy’s Eyes Red?

When you adopt a new puppy for the first time, you’ll likely run into situations you’ve never encountered before. A whining and crying puppy that keeps you up half the night? Yep, that’s a definite possibility. (More like a certainty.) Nasty accidents in and around the house that need to be cleaned and disinfected? Oh yes, there will undoubtedly be plenty of those.

If you’ve ever seen a dog or puppy when the whites of their eyes have turned a deep shade of red, however, you know it can be an alarming situation. Sometimes they can be so red that your puppy almost looks like they’re bleeding. 

I talked about this the other day to a neighbor with a puppy whose eyes were a light red. She was freaking out, as you might imagine, and wanted the answer to a question I get from readers and my social media followers all the time, namely, why are my puppy’s eyes red?

The answer is that several different things can cause your puppy’s eyes to suddenly become red and look bloodshot. They might have been poked in the eye with some type of object, for example, or have an allergy to something in your yard. They could also have an ulcer on their eye or be in the beginning stages of glaucoma. 

There are also several diseases a puppy can have that cause their eyes to become inflamed and red. The redness is typically caused when the blood vessels in the whites of their eyes, known as the sclera, are enlarged and engorged with blood. (Typically, sclera are too small to see otherwise.)

Now that you know, more or less, why your puppy’s eyes are red, I’m betting you have other questions about what to do when the situation arises. For example, what can you do if your puppy’s eyes become red, and are there any home remedies for red eyes in puppies? 

If you have any of those questions or more, please read on. I’ve got answers to them and several others coming right up. It’s essential to know, especially if your puppy suddenly has red eyes and you’re stressed about what to do and how to help them. (It happens more often than you might think.)

Causes for Red Eyes in Puppies

As I mentioned earlier, when your puppy has redness or inflammation that affects one or both of their eyes, it can be caused by a wide variety of issues. When I first asked this same question years ago, I was surprised to determine how many things can cause a puppy to have red eyes. The most common include:

  • An allergy to pollen, dust, fiber, or weeds.
  • Conjunctivitis from some type of irritant or infection.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is a relatively common problem with puppies. Eye-drops are usually the solution. (Giving a puppy eye-drops? That isn’t always so easy.)
  • Entropion. This is when one or both eyelids turn inward, and the lashes rub the surface of the eyeball.
  • Glaucoma. This disease, typically in older dogs is caused by increased eye pressure.
  • Some foreign material or particles, like a piece of sawdust, grain of sand, etc., can cause eye redness quickly.
  • A corneal ulcer. 
  • Swimming in cloudy water or a pool can irritate your dog’s eyes and cause them to become bloodshot and red.
  • Blepharitis is an inflammation of your puppy’s eyelid caused by allergies, infection, or some type of irritation.
  • Cherry Eye is caused when a small gland inside your puppy’s third eyelid becomes inflamed. It pokes out and can cause a small, red bump, thus the name “cherry eye.”
  • If your puppy plays rough with other dogs, their eye(s) can become injured, inflamed, and red.

What to Do if your Dog’s Eyes are Red

As we’ve seen, there are many different causes of red eyes in puppies. That makes determining the exact cause difficult in some cases. If your puppy suddenly presents with red eyes one day out of the blue but has no other symptoms, they’re likely suffering from an allergy. 

On the other hand, if your precious pup has deep red eyes, they seem to be in pain, and their eyes have a watery, white, or green mucus, it’s best to bring them to your local vet as quickly as possible. 

There they can run some simple tests to determine what’s causing your puppy’s red eyes, as well as provide a thorough eye examination. They will likely determine the cause of your pup’s red eyes relatively quickly and prescribe a treatment to help them return to normal, non-red function.

Home Remedies for Puppy Red Eyes

If your puppy is constantly suffering from red eyes, you should bring them to a veterinarian first to determine what the cause is. Once you do, however, you can start adding home remedies along with any medication your vet describes. (Or skip the meds entirely if the problem is simple allergies.) Below are a few of the best I’ve seen over the years:

  1. Clean their eyes with room temperature slightly salted water. (You can use a soft cloth or a cotton ball, your choice.) Remember to wipe away any mucous and eye discharge to prevent reinfection. 
  2. Brew some Rooibos tea and, after it cools, gently swab it around your pup’s infected eyes.
  3. Don’t flush their eyes with anything. Only a sterile saline solution or, if prescribed by your local vet, medicated eye drops should touch your pup’s eyes.
  4. If your dog is a digger, cleaning around their eyes regularly is an excellent habit to start.
  5. Feed your puppy a healthy, balanced diet. Make sure that it’s full of antioxidants and vitamins, including vitamin E.

When to Bring your Puppy to the Vet for Red Eyes

As with practically everything about your puppy’s health, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If you’re not sure and starting to panic, a trip to your local vet is a good choice.

However, if you suddenly notice that your puppy has red eyes, but they aren’t whimpering, and they have no other symptoms, it’s likely they have allergies. Keeping them out of the backyard might be a simple, easy solution to the problem. 

Some health conditions that cause red eyes, though, should be diagnosed as early as possible to avoid long-term health problems for your pup.  Again, err on the side of caution. If you’re not sure, at least give your veterinarian a call and ask questions.

Final Thoughts

There are at least a dozen different health conditions and situations that can cause your puppy’s eyes to become red. Some are as innocuous as allergies, while others, like glaucoma and conjunctivitis, can be more concerning.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog article and that it answered your questions about why your puppy’s eyes are red. If you have more or would like to learn more about how to raise a healthy, happy puppy, please read some of the other blogs I’ve posted. All of them are filled with great information that will help you become a proud and practical puppy parent.