Dog Eye Is Swollen

My Dog’s Eye is Swollen. What Do I Do?

Medical Contributor:

Dr. Ashley Gray Assemat

Aug 3, 2021

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We get it. Looking into your pet’s puppy-dog eyes just melts all your troubles away! But what are you to do when those precious peepers look itchy, red, and swollen? The quick and easy answer is: Call VEG or your nearest emergency vet.

Eye problems can be tricky and should be treated as an emergency. There are several possibilities of why your dog may have a swollen eye, and if not treated quickly, can even lead to vision loss.


Dogs can have swollen eyes for all kinds of reasons, like:

Irritating irritants

  • Fragrances, e.g., household cleaners, perfumes
  • Pollen
  • Smoke
  • Soap

Foreign objects

  • Dust or dander
  • Grass
  • Hair


  • Distemper
  • Herpes
  • Hepatitis
  • Canine influenza


  • Lyme disease
  • Leptospirosis
  • Canine brucellosis

Other causes

  • Funguses
  • Parasites
  • Cut/scrape on the eye
  • Dry eye
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Tumors
  • Poisoning
  • Tear duct problems
  • Eyelid abnormalities

This list can just keep going! That’s why it’s important to meet with your veterinarian or emergency vet quickly if you notice any canine eye swelling to help narrow down the cause.


Infections are some of the most common triggers for your dog’s red or swollen eye. Different eye zones can get infected due to different reasons. Let’s take a peek at some of the potential causes:


A deeper eye infection, uveitis is typically caused by something outside of the eye such as tick-borne diseases, viruses, cancer, etc.

Pink eye

A.k.a. conjunctivitis – this affects our furry friends the same way as it bothers us humans. Pinkeye occurs when your dog’s conjunctiva (the thin mucous membrane covering the outside of the eye, along the eyelid) is inflamed.

Other infections in dogs can be caused by abnormalities in:

  • Eyelids
  • Cornea (outer surface of the eye)
  • Tear glands


Your vet may name a condition called blepharitis, the medical term for your dog’s eyelid inflammation. Dogs of any age and breed can get it, but some breeds are more likely to have it than others.

Dog breeds that are more prone to blepharitis include:

  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Chow Chow
  • English Bulldog
  • Pekingese
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Rottweiler
  • Shih Tzu

If your dog is one of these breeds, pay special attention to those puppy-dog eyes and look out for any swelling, redness or watering.

Symptoms to keep an eye out for

Blepharitis may be affecting either one or both of your dog’s eyes/eyelids. Symptoms include:

  • Red and swollen eyes
  • Uncontrollable blinking (blepharospasms)
  • Flaky skin around eyes
  • Loss of pigment around eyes
  • Eye discharge
  • Redness of the white of their eyes

Common causes for blepharitis in dogs

  • Staph or bacterial infections
  • Congenital abnormalities due to breed features
  • Allergies of any sort
  • Tumors
  • Traumatic injuries to the eye
  • Parasite infections
  • Other eye diseases

Treatment – all the TLC and more

Sometimes, treatment for your dog’s blepharitis could be as simple as applying a warm compress and giving your pup some antibiotic eye drops and pain meds until the symptoms go away. Always schedule a follow-up with your vet to make sure that your dog’s eye condition doesn’t become any worse, recurrent, or need surgery.


For the times your pooch has simply gotten some debris in the eye, check in with your vet first and then try one of these home treatments:

Sterile saline eye wash

A sterile, plain saline can be found at your local pharmacy; no prescription needed. Rinse your dog’s swollen eye and the surrounding area with the saline.

Warm compress

Use a warm washcloth to apply light pressure to your pup’s eye for 5-10 minutes to help with swelling. Test out the temp of the washcloth by applying it to the inside of your wrist first.

Allergy medicine

And lastly, if you think it’s a case of allergies, call VEG for next steps. It’s possible your dog needs allergy medication, like Benadryl, to relieve the swelling and itching.


If you notice any sort of eye swelling in your dog, you should absolutely visit the vet ASAP. If your primary veterinarian isn’t available, contact an emergency vet right away.

The emergency vets at all of our VEG locations are available every day, including weekends and holidays, to help out if your pup is sporting a puffy eye. We’ll find the reason for the swelling and redness in your dog’s eyes and develop the best course of action to help your pal see better days!