swollen eye in dog

8 Reasons for Swollen Eyes In Dogs & Treatments

Being a dog owner is a big responsibility; you have to make sure your dog is healthy, and fit and is not subjected to any illness. There is nothing more perturbing than to see your dog in miserable condition.

A swollen eye is an alarming situation. The reasons can be different in different situations but effects are always severe. Eye infections are common in dogs. If such symptoms are overlooked, they can lead to permanent blindness.

If the swelling is accompanied by pain and discomfort, you should take your dog to the vet clinic as immediately as possible. We will discuss the most common causes, major symptoms, and possible treatments for dogs’ swollen eyes. 

Common Causes Of Swollen Eyes In Dogs

There are many possible causes of swollen eyes in dogs. An eye infection, allergic reaction, or tumor in dogs can swell your dog’s eyes. In extreme cases, there may be an issue with the cornea, any external injury, or a sudden change in eye pressure that can lead to swollen eyes.

From the plethora of causes, it is difficult to understand which one goes with your dog. but once you get to know the reason behind your dog’s swollen eyes, it would be easy to treat the disease. We will discuss all possible causes of dogs’ swollen eyes in detail:

1. Allergic Reactions

It is one of the most reported causes of eye swelling in dogs. Any exposure to allergens including insect bites can lead to eye swelling. Along with eyes, face and throat swelling have also been observed in dogs that had been exposed to allergens.

Such type of allergy is mostly environment based such as dust, dirt, insects, plants, or seasonal changes. If the symptoms are prolonged, then referral to a vet allergist will be helpful. 

Different breeds are vulnerable to different allergens, for instance, German Shepherd puppies are mostly vulnerable to pollen allergies.

2. Bacterial and Viral Infections 

When dogs exhibit viral or bacterial infections, the secondary inflammation can lead to swelling eyes. In infection-rooted eye swelling, you will observe a green or yellow discharge from the tear duct.

Moreover, fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, and loss of appetite are also associated with eye infection in dogs.

3. Injury

An injury in the eye or surrounding such as the face, nose, or tear duct, can lead to swelling of the eyes in dogs. The eye is an extremely sensitive area.

Dogs mostly indulge in fighting and rough playing which makes them vulnerable to cuts and injury. Furthermore, there are numerous road accidents of dogs reported causing injuries and associated swelling in dogs.

An injury will not only lead to swelling in the eyes, but also the bloody discharge, eye cloudiness, and permanent closure of the eyelid.

4. Dry Eyes

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, commonly known as dry eye is another common cause of swelling in dogs. Dry eyes do not produce enough tears that are necessary to lubricate the eye. Dry eyes result in irritation, and inflammation and ultimately lead to swelling. 

5. Tooth Root Abscesses

Another reason for your dog’s eye swelling is abscesses in tooth roots. Upper premolars have long roots so swelling extends up to the roots covering the eyes as well. 

So check the mouth of your canine if there is swelling in the upper premolars. The fourth premolar on the upper side is the major culprit for abscesses.

6. Glaucoma

The excessive buildup of fluid in the eyes of dogs leads to pressure within the optic nerve or retina. Glaucoma is another most frequent reason for swollen eyes in dogs.

Dogs normally suffer from three different kinds of glaucoma:

  • Congenital – is seen in puppies from three to six months
  • Primary – an inherited condition that affects both eyes
  • Secondary – develops because of the presence of another eye condition

Glaucoma-induced swelling also causes redness, and pain, and can cause complete vision loss. Symptoms of glaucoma include redness in the white part of the dog’s eyes, swelling or bulging eyes, sleeping more than usual, squinting or avoiding the eyes from being touched, and increased discharge from the eyes.

Glaucoma cannot be detected in its early stages because its symptoms are not obvious. So regular medical checkups must be done to diagnose glaucoma in the early stage.

7. Metabolic Illnesses

Metabolism-related illness is also one of the major causes of eye swelling in dogs. If the dog is suffering from hypothyroidism, his eye will bug out in response to secondary inflammation. 

Cushing’s disease leads to high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure which in turn leads to fluid retention and eye swelling.

Also, Diabetes will lead to cataracts in the eyes giving cloudy vision and swelling to the eyes of dogs. There are some signs associated with metabolic illnesses, such as loss of appetite, change in urine habits, and change in weight, coat, and skin.

8. Tumors and Cancers

This is a severe cause of swelling in eyes of dogs. Either you can see the growth in the eyes of your dog or a hidden tumor is pushing the eye to bulge. 

The growth can be sudden or slow. Tumors and growths vary in shape, size, and color. If you notice any bizarre growth in the eye of the eyelid of your dog, seek medical advice as soon as possible. Your vet will sedate your dog, take out the sample of tissue and examine the cells.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Eye Swelling in Dogs:

When you notice an abnormal swelling or redness in one or both eyes of your dogs, do not neglect this situation.

Immediately consult your vet and try to find the cause behind the swelling. There is a wide array of causes, which means treatments would be diverse as well.

Treatment will depend on the cause of swelling in the eyes. For efficient treatment, it is important to know the cause of swelling for which your vet’s advice is compulsory.

Diagnosis for swollen eyes in dogs includes intraocular pressure, fluorescein stain, and Schirmer tear test. 

  • Fluorescein stain searches for the scratch or ulcer in the eyes that is causing swelling in the eyes of the dog. 
  • Schirmer tear test, as the name indicates measures the production of tears in the eyes of dogs.
  • Intraocular pressure is used to identify glaucoma by looking for a pressure change in the eyes of dogs.

Depending on the cause, there are various treatment options that your vet will likely suggest one of the following:

1. Antihistamines

Allergen-induced swelling is treated with the dose of antihistamines. Benadryl and Zyrtec are known to be effective for treating swollen eyes in dogs.

But it is important to consult your vet before giving any oral antihistamines to your vet. 

Also, antihistamines are effective for mild to medium allergies.

2. Allergy medications

If the whole face of your dog is swollen due to allergy, then medications prescribed for the allergy are given to the dog to get rid of the swelling.

3. Antibiotics

Oral and topical antibiotics are given to dogs who are suffering from swollen eyes. In most cases, if your dog’s eyes are swollen due to any foreign object, such as infection, injury, or conjunctivitis, antibiotics are very effective in such cases.

Depending on the cause, there are various treatment options that your vet will likely suggest;

4. Steroids

In case a bacterial infection caused swelling in your dog’s eyes, your vet will prescribe eye drops. Bacterial infections lead to excessive irritation in the eyes, scratching will aggravate the condition.

So buster collar is recommended to avoid dogs from scratching their eyes until they fully recovered.

5. Surgery

If your dog’s eyes are swollen because of a corneal ulcer, tumor, cancer, glaucoma, or trauma, then surgery is the only option left. 

Prevention is Better than Treatment

The eyes are the windows from which we can witness the beauty of this world. Don’t let your dog lose this exquisite blessing. 

Although there are many treatments for swollen eyes the best option is to prevent the disease in the first place.

There are many ways to prevent swellings in the dogs;

  • Hair can irritate your dog’s eyes and cause swelling, so trim the hair so it can’t get in the eyes.
  • Wearing goggles is the best option to avoid dust, injury, debris, and any other external object from invading their eyes.
  • Hygiene must be ensured to avoid bacterial growth that can cause severe infection.
  • Trauma is the most common cause of eye swelling in dogs. A few safety measures such as closing the windows while you are driving can prevent dirt and dust from getting in the eyes.
  • Great attention must be given to your dog if he is behaving abnormally. An early diagnosis can speed up the recovery process. In case of abnormal behavior, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.


Being a dog owner, it is your foremost duty to protect your dog from anything that can put your dog’s life at risk. Nothing can hurt you more than watching your dog with swollen eyes.

Do not take this situation lightly; this could be an indication of chronic disease. If you notice anything abnormal in the eyes of your dog, immediately seek medical advice.

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