If there’s anything we have in common with dogs, it’s eyes. Dogs’ eyes work a lot like our own, which means they also experience the same discomfort when they become red and irritated. If you think you’re seeing puppy bloodshot eyes, and wondering why, then you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll talk you through what might be causing your puppy’s bloodshot eyes, common treatments for it, and preventative advice to help reduce the chances of them happening in the future.

Puppy bloodshot eyes will need to be looked at by you or by the vet. Either way, you can see why handling exercises are important to practise with your puppy when they’re young. Otherwise, you’ll quickly see for yourself how challenging it is to place some eye-drops. In the Zigzag app, we go through this and many more training and grooming exercises to help you get your puppy set for life week by week. If there’s anything you’re not sure of, you can always trust our team of puppy coaches to help you out via phone or text, 7 days a week.

chihuahua with bloodshot eyes
Photo by Jessica Christian on Unsplash

What causes puppy bloodshot eyes?

Just like with humans, puppy bloodshot eyes are caused by blood vessels rushing to the scene of irritation or infection. This can happen as part of an overall eye problem or as a response to stress. 

In fact, puppies who are stressed or anxious will have an increased heart rate and higher amount of blood flow. Make sure you keep an eye on what their body language is indicating to prevent bloodshot eyes, as well as other problems. Wouldn’t you agree that we underestimate the effects of stress?

Puppy bloodshot eyes can also happen due to strange things getting stuck in there such as a grass seed, or a trapped eyelash. For some puppies, the physical shape of the eye socket, their eye anatomy, or having wrinkly skin can trap fur or eyelashes inside the eye and cause bloodshot eyes. This can be seen in dog breeds like Pugs and Shar Peis. 

Allergies such as pollen, or simply using a new washing powder can also be the culprits for your puppy’s eyes to become bloodshot. Perhaps you’ve heard of cherry eye? It’s actually not as sweet as it sounds, but this is another common eye problem which will cause bloodshot eyes.

Sometimes, it might just be as simple as your puppy being tired. Puppies need a lot of sleep, and if they have red eyes and look tired, it could be time for them to have a nap.

Labrador eye
Photo by Robert Koorenny on Unsplash

How to treat puppy bloodshot eyes?

We always recommend that if your puppy has something wrong with their eyes, going to the vet should be first on your list. Eyes can be red for relatively harmless reasons, but eyes are an important thing to protect and look after…can’t be easily replaced at all!

Here’s some suggestions for how you or your vet might treat puppy bloodshot eyes:

Puppy bloodshot eyes may be treated with antibiotic drops

Depending on what your vet diagnoses, they may give you drops or an ointment to put in your puppy’s eyes. Dry eyes will love some extra lubrication, and fake tears can often make bloodshot eyes go away.

Bloodshot eyes may need further investigation

Did you know there are canine eye specialists? With their impressive diagnostic tools and funny machines, they can run tests if your puppy’s bloodshot may be due to something a bit more troubling like ulcers, or cataracts. Nice that canine eye doctors exist, right? Humans have doctors for pretty much every part of our bodies…no reason why dogs shouldn’t. 🙂

Clean your puppy’s eyes

Imagine if you didn’t clean your eye-snot off your face every morning. Same terrible image can happen with dogs. Make sure to wipe their face and around their eyes with a clean damp cloth or with some cotton wool pads soaked in cooled boiled water to make sure there’s nothing nasty in there. 

Specialist eye flushes are available for puppies

Much like humans, puppy eyes can get irritated. Flushing out the gunk with a gentle saline solution can help reduce the redness.

Prevent your puppy from scratching their eyes

If your puppy’s eyes are bloodshot and itchy, it’s likely they’ll want to scratch their eyes; which irritates them even further. A donut or elizabethan style collar can prevent them from entering that endless scratching cycle dogs tend to get into. Those collars also add perfect comedic value to the average puppy picture. No one can deny that.

Keep your puppy cool

If your puppy overheats due to hot weather, bloodshot eyes might make an appearance. Puppies are not very good at regulating their temperature, so it’s best to have them somewhere cool when it’s hot. After this summer, you know you can’t underestimate the ‘heat’ in ‘heat waves’ anymore, right? 

Ask your vet about antihistamines

Some puppies may get bloodshot eyes due to allergic reactions. Ask your vet what antihistamines you can use, and it should work out just fine.

Use an air purifier

If you have a puppy who is sensitive to environmental factors like pollution or a high pollen count, using an air purifier in your house can help them. We know it might sound a little bougie, but we’re just giving you all the ideas we have. 

chocolate lab puppy on floor
Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

How to prevent red eyes in puppies?

To prevent your puppy from getting bloodshot eyes, there’s only one main goal: to reduce eye irritation as much as possible. 

You can do this by:

  • Keeping to a good grooming schedule. This includes wiping your puppy’s face from dirt or debris around their eyes, especially when they come back from muddy walks.
  • Washing their face during bath time.
  • Use an eyewash regularly if your puppy is prone to bloodshot eyes.
  • Trim the fur around their eyes to prevent their eyes getting irritated.
  • Check if products you use around your home like air fresheners or floor cleaners might be too strong to use around your puppy.
  • Make sure they’re getting plenty of time to rest and sleep. Nap times are key for puppies!
  • Try to keep stress to a minimum for them.

Don’t want to scare you, but bloodshot eyes should be closely monitored and in case home remedies don’t work, calling your vet should be the next step. At the end of the day, vets are the experts. Besides helping your puppy out, they will put your mind at ease which is often priceless, isn’t it?

If you’re still in the mood for reading more about puppies and their eyes (weirdly specific genre), you might want to read our article on cloudy eyes in puppies

Other than that, download the Zigzag puppy training app today and learn how to ready your puppy for whatever life throws at them. We’ll teach you week by week all of the important life skills they’ll need to learn, as well as steps on handling and grooming. For that and more, don’t forget that our wonderful team of expert puppy coaches are happy to answer any of your questions and help you in every step of your journey.