What Causes a Dog’s Eye to Swell

Why is my dog's eye swollen
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Welcome, dog owners and lovers! If you’re reading this, you’ve probably noticed your dog’s eye is swollen and are worried about their health. In this comprehensive article, we will look into the probable causes of your dog’s swollen eye and provide insights into recognizing and dealing with this common problem. Let’s embark on this journey together to unravel the mystery behind your dog’s swollen eye.

Understanding Canine Eye Anatomy

Before we go into the causes of a swollen eye in your dog, it’s important to understand the structure of your dog’s eyes. The structure of a dog’s eye is similar to that of humans, with multiple elements that work together to provide vision and eye health. The eyelids protect the eye, and the cornea serves as a transparent outer layer. The iris is located behind the cornea and regulates the quantity of light that enters the eye. The lens directs light to the retina, which is positioned at the back of the eye and is where images are produced and transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve.

A thin membrane called the conjunctiva covers the inner surface of the eyelids and the white area of the eye. It keeps the eye lubricated and protects it from foreign particles. Understanding the various components of your dog’s eye will help you understand the potential reasons for eye edema and the associated symptoms.

Now that we have a basic understanding of canine eye anatomy, let’s explore the various factors that may contribute to a swollen eye in dogs.

Why is my Dog’s Eye Swollen

Your dog’s eye swelling could be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from mild irritations to more serious underlying problems. Identifying the root reason is critical for identifying the best course of action. Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent causes of a dog’s swollen eyes.

#1. Allergies:

Dogs, like humans, can have allergic reactions that damage their eye health. Pollen, dust mites, certain foods, and even some grooming products can cause an allergic reaction, resulting in eye inflammation and puffiness.

#2. Conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye,” is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. Bacterial or viral infections, environmental irritants, or allergies can all cause it. Redness, drainage, and, of course, swelling are all symptoms.

#3. Insect Bites or Stings:

Bees, wasps, and spiders can sting or bite dogs, causing localized swelling around the affected area, including the eye. This sort of swelling is frequently accompanied by redness, discomfort, and itching. An allergic reaction to the insect’s venom might occur in severe cases, resulting in more pronounced swelling and probable breathing issues.

Infectious Causes of Swollen Eyes

An underlying infection can occasionally cause a swollen eye in dogs. Identifying the infectious etiology is critical for adequate treatment and avoiding consequences. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent viral causes of a dog’s swollen eyes.

#1. Bacterial Infections:

Bacterial infections, such as those caused by the bacteria staphylococcus or streptococcus, can induce eye swelling. Infections of the eye can occur when germs enter the eye due to an accident, poor hygiene, or underlying disorders impairing the immune system.

#2. Distemper in Dogs:

Canine distemper is a viral disease that is very contagious in dogs. It can induce visual signs, such as eye swelling, in addition to other symptoms such as fever, coughing, and nasal discharge. Distemper is a dangerous illness that necessitates emergency veterinary care.

#3. Herpesvirus in Dogs:

The canine herpesvirus is a virus that primarily affects newborn puppies. Adult dogs, on the other hand, can get the infection. In addition to respiratory symptoms, sick dogs may experience eye swelling and discharge. Early detection and veterinarian care are critical for controlling this potentially fatal illness.

Trauma and Injury as Causes of Dog’s Swollen Eyes

A swollen eye in dogs can occasionally be caused by trauma or injury. Dogs are naturally inquisitive and can participate in activities that put their eyes at risk. Let’s explore some common ways dogs can sustain eye trauma and potential treatments.

#1. Scratches or Foreign Objects:

Dogs may scratch their eyes with their paws or come into touch with sharp items, causing corneal scratches. Debris, grass seeds, or microscopic particles can also become lodged in the eye, causing discomfort and swelling.

#2. Blunt Force Trauma:

Blunt force damage to the eye can occur as a result of an accident, a struggle with another animal, or being hit by an object. Swelling, pain, and even more severe damage to the eye tissues might result from such incidents.

Structural Abnormalities and Genetic Factors

#1. Entropion:

Entropion is a birth defect in which the eyelid slides inward, rubbing the eyelashes on the cornea. The continual rubbing can cause ocular inflammation, ulceration, and swelling. Entropion is more common in some breeds, such as Shar-Peis and Bulldogs, that have face wrinkles or droopy skin over the eyes.

#2. Cherry Eye:

Cherry eye is a disorder in which the tear gland in the third eyelid prolapses, resulting in a reddish mass in the corner of the eye. While cherry eye does not directly cause eye swelling, the inflammation and irritation associated with it can result in secondary swelling.

#3. Glaucoma:

Glaucoma is a disorder that causes increasing pressure within the eye, which can lead to optic nerve damage and vision loss. Also, Glaucoma can induce a dog’s eye swelling owing to increased pressure on the eye structures, in addition to symptoms such as redness, discomfort, and clouded corneas.

When to Relax and When to React

It’s critical to establish a balance between being vigilant and knowing when to relax and when to respond when it comes to a dog’s eye swelling. While some causes of eye swelling are minor and self-resolving, others can suggest a more dangerous underlying illness that necessitates rapid veterinarian intervention. In this section, we will explore different scenarios where you can take a moment to relax and monitor the situation, as well as situations that warrant prompt action to ensure your dog’s well-being.

#1. Mild Swelling After Minor Irritation

Your dog’s eye may get mildly swollen in some circumstances following little irritation, such as exposure to dust or a small foreign object. You can try a gentle approach at home if the swelling is minimal, your dog appears comfortable, and there are no other concerning symptoms. Also, to flush out any remaining irritants, rinse your dog’s eye with a sterile saline solution recommended by your veterinarian. Keep an eye on the swelling, and seek veterinarian help if it worsens or your dog exhibits signs of discomfort.

#2. Allergies with Mild to Moderate Swelling

If your dog has a history of allergies and develops mild to moderate eye swelling, it could be due to an allergic reaction. In such circumstances, you might try to minimize swelling by gently wiping the region around the eyes with a wet towel at first. In addition, your veterinarian may advise you to use antihistamines or other allergy drugs to relieve symptoms. However, if the swelling worsens, your dog exhibits indications of distress, or there is discharge from the eyes,  it’s important to consult your vet promptly.

#3. Rapid and Severe Eye Swelling

Rapid and severe eye swelling necessitates prompt veterinary attention, especially when accompanied by other worrying signs. This could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction, an infection, trauma, or other dangerous condition. If your dog’s eye swells abruptly and considerably, they show signs of pain or distress, have trouble opening or shutting the afflicted eye, or there are other concerning symptoms such as discharge or behavioral abnormalities, contact your veterinarian immediately.

#4. Recurring or Persistent Swelling

If your dog’s eye swelling recurs or persists despite initial home care, you should see your veterinarian at once. Recurring or persistent swelling may indicate an underlying problem requiring professional evaluation and treatment. To diagnose the source of the reoccurring swelling and develop an appropriate treatment plan, your veterinarian will perform a complete examination, which may include specialized tests or imaging.

When dealing with a dog’s eye swelling, knowing when to relax and when to respond is critical. While some cases may resolve themselves or with little measures, others necessitate rapid veterinarian assistance. You can ensure your dog receives the appropriate care and treatment for their eye swelling by regularly monitoring their symptoms, detecting any changes in behavior or discomfort, and obtaining professional help when necessary.

First Aid and Home Care

#1. Gentle Cleaning:

If your dog’s swollen eye has discharge or debris, you can gently clean the area to provide relief and prevent future aggravation. Wipe away any discharge with a clean, wet cloth or sterile saline solution recommended by your veterinarian, taking care not to apply pressure or create extra discomfort.

#2. Cool Compresses:

Cool compresses used for your dog’s swollen eye might reduce inflammation and provide soothing relief. Wrap a clean cloth in a towel or an ice pack in a towel, then gently press it on the affected eye for a few minutes at a time. To avoid discomfort or injury, make sure the compress is not excessively cold.

#3. Avoid Irritants:

Limiting your dog’s exposure to any irritants that could aggravate the swelling during his recovery is critical. Please keep your dog away from smoke, strong perfumes, dust, and other airborne particles that might irritate their eyes even more. Furthermore, keep your dog from rubbing or pawing at their eye, as this can aggravate the swelling or create additional injuries.

Professional Diagnosis and Treatment

#1. Veterinary Examination:

When you take your dog to the vet, they will perform a thorough examination of your dog’s eyes, including assessing the degree of puffiness, checking for any injuries or anomalies, and assessing their overall ocular health. They might also ask about your dog’s medical history, current activities, and any other signs they’ve noticed.

#2. Diagnostic Tests:

Depending on the findings of the veterinarian, they may propose additional diagnostic testing to discover the precise reason for the eye swelling. Eye staining to check for corneal ulcers, tear production assessment, cultures to identify infectious agents, or imaging procedures like X-rays or ultrasounds to analyze eye structures are examples of these tests.

#3. Treatment Alternatives:

Your veterinarian will determine the best treatment for your dog’s swollen eye based on the underlying reason. Topical or oral drugs to treat infection, allergies, or inflammation, eye drops or ointments to give lubrication and comfort, or surgical interventions for structural abnormalities or serious injuries are examples of treatments.

Preventive Measures and Eye Health Maintenance

#1. Regular Eye Examinations:

A veterinarian’s routine eye examinations are critical for maintaining your dog’s ocular health. Regular check-ups enable the early discovery of any underlying diseases or irregularities, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.

#2. Environmental Management:

Keeping dogs’ exposure to harmful allergens, irritants, and pollutants to a minimum will help lessen the risk of eye swelling and other ocular issues. Maintain a clean living environment for your dog, use air purifiers or filters as needed, and avoid exposing them to smoke, chemicals, or other pollutants that can irritate their eyes.

#3. Proper Eye Care:

Maintaining good eye hygiene is critical for avoiding eye infections and other problems. Clean your dog’s eyes regularly with a gentle, wet cloth to eliminate any discharge or debris. If your dog is prone to tear stains, consult your veterinarian about utilizing tear stain removers.

What are the signs and symptoms of a swollen dog eye?

Blepharitis can affect one or both eyes, causing the eyelids to become red and swollen. Blepharospasms are uncontrollable blinks that your dog may experience.

When should I worry about my dog’s swollen eye?

A dog’s eye swelling can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including a scratch in the cornea or germs in the eye. However, if your dog is in discomfort or pain as a result of the swelling, you should take them to the doctor as soon as possible.

What can I give my dog for a swollen eye?

Ocular flushing/rinsing, warm or cold compresses, and antihistamines such as Benadryl® may be used to treat swollen eyes, depending on the underlying reason. Antibiotics and other drugs may also be required to treat more serious infections such as orbital cellulitis or retrobulbar abscesses.

What can cause a dog’s eye to swell?

Eye inflammation, also known as blepharitis in dogs, is a painful condition in which the eye becomes inflamed and swollen, typically as a result of allergies, an infection, an accident, a tumor, or a congenital anomaly. Other symptoms include rubbing, itching, dry skin, and drainage from the eyes.

Can a dog’s swollen eye heal on its own?

Yes, eye infections can heal on their own. They do, however, need to be evaluated by a veterinarian to ensure that there are no deeper problems that necessitate medical care. Leaving your dog’s eye misdiagnosed or untreated may prolong your dog’s suffering and create further discomfort.

How long until a swollen eye goes away?

A swollen or puffy eyelid usually disappears within a day. Compressions can help reduce swelling, but how you manage a swollen eyelid depends on the cause.

When should I take my dog to the vet for a swollen eye?

A dog’s eye swelling can be caused by a variety of factors, including a scratch in the cornea or germs in the eye. However, if your dog is in discomfort or pain as a result of the swelling, you should take them to the doctor as soon as possible.


Your dog’s eyes are a window into their spirit as well as a tool for them to explore the world. As a responsible dog owner, you must be watchful and sensitive to any changes in your dog’s eye health. Swollen eyes can be caused by a variety of underlying disorders, ranging from allergies and infections to more serious conditions such as glaucoma or tumors.

When you observe any signs of eye swelling or pain in your dog, seek immediate veterinary assistance. A professional evaluation will assist in discovering the cause and guide the best treatment. It is usually best to err on the side of caution and treat any problems as soon as possible, safeguarding your pet’s well-being.

You may effectively prevent and treat eye-related illnesses in your dog by being proactive in monitoring your dog’s eye health, keeping a clean environment, and getting frequent veterinary care. Your dog relies on you to be their advocate and guardian, so let their eyes shine bright with health and happiness.

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