Why Are My Dogs Eyelids Red? 7 Possible Causes

HealthWhy Are My Dogs Eyelids Red? 7 Possible Causes

If a dog’s eyelids are red and swollen, there could be several issues at play. The dog could have an injury, pink eye, allergies, glaucoma, dry eyes, diabetes, and even cancer. Be sure to take your dog to the vet if you notice red and irritated eyelids.

As a pet parent, you probably already know that dogs develop the same type of ailments as their two-legged counterparts, including various eye problems. Just like human peepers, a dog’s eyes can be sensitive to light, become irritated by foreign objects, and even develop allergic reactions.

Some breeds’ eyes may be more susceptible to infections/inflammation than others. Breeds with big, bulging eyes (for example, cocker-spaniels, Shih-Tzus, and pugs) are in the “red zone” as far as eye problems go. But regardless of the breed, all dogs are at risk of developing eye issues.

Because of this, dog owners must learn as much as possible about the possible health concerns their breed may have, including eye problems.

So how do you know if your dog is having an eye issue? One of the easiest ways to tell is by looking at the eye color. Most eye conditions will cause the eyelids to turn red.

This article will go over the common reasons dogs’ eyes and eyelids turn red and what you should do about it.

Why Dogs Eyelids Turn Red?

One day you might notice that your pooch’s eyes seem odd: redness, swelling, irritation, and maybe even discharge.

It might throw you off at first, and you might think something serious is going on. Try to remain calm: having the above-described symptoms doesn’t always mean the worst-case scenario.

Below are a few of the most common problems that would cause eyelids to turn red. See if any fit your “pet’s profile.”

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A Simple Injury

As great as it is for dogs to play, there’s always the chance it can lead to an injury. Does your dog like to play with sticks/twigs? You never know when that sharp end is going to end up in your dog’s eye.

An owner will immediately notice that their dog is rubbing its eyes. The eyes may become red, swollen, and the “victim” may whine (depending on the severity of the trauma). It is best to inspect your dog right away and rule out anything requiring immediate medical attention (bleeding, extreme swelling, excessive tearing, etc.).

“Pink Eye” (colloquial for conjunctivitis)

Yes, our canine counterparts can get pink eye, but it’s slightly different from human pink eye. It can be infectious or non-infectious. The former is usually caused by bacteria. The latter is caused by an irritant such as an allergic reaction or an injury.

Pink eye is something that should be treated by a veterinarian, who can evaluate what type of pink eye it is and administer proper medications.

Dry Eyes

The definition is implied in the title. This symptom is caused by the dryness of a dog’s tear glands. When the eyes don’t receive enough lubrication, they become red, irritated, and itchy.

It is imperative to bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible when you notice it can’t stop scratching the problem area. The vet will figure out why the eyes are dry and will likely send you home with eye drops.


Like humans, dogs can be allergic to pollen, household cleaners, mold, and food. Some allergies are seasonal, usually appearing in the spring when trees start budding and flowers are blooming, causing a vast emission of blossom dust. Some allergies are caused by food (usually the protein). Whatever the case, allergies can cause the eyelids to become red and inflamed.


Another ailment that both dogs and humans suffer from. Senior dogs are much more likely to suffer from glaucoma, but it’s still possible for younger adult dogs to develop this ailment.

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Glaucoma is a severe condition where a buildup of fluids causes the pressure inside the eye to increase. If left untreated, it can lead to canine blindness.

The beginning stage of glaucoma is easy to spot: a pet parent will notice distinct cloudiness in the pupils along with severe redness and irritation.

Poor furry fella will be disoriented because of the limited vision and may even start bumping into walls.

If caught early, it is possible to treat (typically with laser surgery). In more severe cases, an eye may be removed.


Diabetes will significantly affect a dog’s vision because of the elevated sugar levels. When its body does not produce enough insulin, nothing helps the body break down sugar.

This leads to excess sugar stored in the blood vessels, including those that supply the necessary nutrients to the eyes. As a result, it leads to cornea damage, causing cataracts and glaucoma.

That’s why it is crucial to bring your dog in for a yearly check-up. A specialist will complete the necessary blood work and examine the dog to see if there are any serious underlying health problems.


In some cases, red eyelids are a sign of cancer. Only a vet will be able to give a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. The vet will run some blood tests to determine if the condition is malignant or benign.

To save a dog’s life, it is crucial to catch the symptoms as early as possible.

What Should I Do If My Dogs Eyelids Are Red?

First, assess the situation correctly. See if this redness is caused by something as simple as a foreign object in your dog’s eye. You might be able to remove the irritant by carefully swiping a slightly damp napkin or a paper towel across the dog’s eye.

If this does the trick, your dog can resume its playtime activity, and no vet appointment will be necessary. Just check their eye a few times per day for the next 3-4 days to ensure no infection develops.

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However, if you notice one eye is constantly being scratched and rubbed, is severely red and swollen with puss coming out of it, you need to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent the problem from escalating.

The vet will run some blood tests and perform a physical exam on your dog to determine if there is a problem.

Preventing Red Eyelids

Safe Play

Ensure your dog plays safely outside by removing all sharp objects and replacing them with safe dog toys like Kongs, Nylabones, etc.

Observe Your Dog

Observe your dog’s behavior. If you notice excessive scratching and rubbing, examine the area yourself. If you see anything odd, it’s time to schedule a wellness exam.

Keep The Eyes Clean

Regularly clean your dog’s eyes with a moist sponge or a paper towel. Taking care of your dog’s eyes is as important as taking care of your own.

An Annual Exam

Make sure your pet’s shots and blood work are up to date by taking it for a yearly exam. A healthy pup is a happy pup!

Keep On Top of Your Dogs Eye Health

No matter how young or old your dog is, a devoted pet parent should pay attention and take notice when anything is unusual about their dog. This is especially true with the eyes.

Good vision and healthy eyes are just as important to dogs as they are to humans. Proper care must be administered if any vision issues surface.

You know what they say: “Eyes are Windows to the Soul.” If you keep them clean, you’ll be able to see what’s inside. We want happy eyes, not sad ones!

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Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.

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