Swollen Dog Eyes: What Could it Mean?

Veterinary professionals and animal health specialists acknowledge that dogs can experience several eye problems. A prevalent problem is eye swelling that may be caused by physical injury or could hint at a serious underlying issue. This article offers important insight into dog’s swollen eyes and explains the possible implications of each symptom.

Most Common Reasons Why a Dog’s Eye Might Swell

The most common reason a dog’s eye will swell is due to an external injury they might experience where the eye is struck by something either directly or indirectly, such as getting hit by debris in the air. For example, if your dog runs at full speed into furniture in your home, there’s a chance that they might have suffered an eye injury, resulting in their eyes becoming swollen. If your pet runs into something outside or hits its head on another animal, this will also happen.

When dogs fight with each other over territory, one of the most common injuries is when the dogs’ eyes swell after being struck multiple times. This can happen if one dog tries to hold the other dog down since their eyes are the most vulnerable.

Dogs that suffer an eye injury or get hit in their head can also experience bleeding in and around the affected area, often resulting in swelling. It’s usually best if you take them to your local vet so they can adequately assess the damage and offer you the proper treatment.

If this isn’t treated, it can lead to an infection which will cause your pet even more problems. If the foreign object gets lodged in your dog’s eye, they might experience head shaking or pawing at their face until it can be successfully removed with surgery. Your vet will usually give your pet a sedative if surgery is required for this to be properly cared for.

Related read: 6 Proven Ways to Prevent Dog Eye Infection

Other Reasons Why a Dog’s Eye Might Swell Up

Another reason your dog’s eye might swell is their allergic reaction to something they’ve ingested or come in contact with after licking or chewing on it. If this isn’t treated, it can lead to a blockage in the digestive system, which will prevent your pet from being able to pass any food or water through their system. This is called the megaesophagus, and if not treated, it can cause other organs in your dog’s body to fail and shut down, resulting in death.

Your dog might also be experiencing a blocked tear duct, which means that the tears and other fluids aren’t able to drain from their eye. This can cause your pet’s eyes to swell up due to the build-up of pressure.

Since this is a common problem for dogs, you must understand all the symptoms to know when you need to take them to the vet or give your dog some basic first aid at home.

Symptoms of Dog Swollen Eyes

The most common symptom is when one eye on your pet begins to swell, but the other will stay the same size. This indicates there’s an issue with their eyes that needs to be treated as soon as possible. This apparent difference will allow you to quickly tell if your dog is suffering from a blocked tear duct since one eye will be completely red and swollen while the other remains normal in size.

In some cases, both of your dog’s eyes will swell up evenly because they’ve been injured or have been fighting with another animal. This is one of the more common symptoms and can be treated at home once you’re sure there isn’t a foreign object inside the eye, which has caused it to swell up. If your pet is shaking their head or pawing at their face due to an injured eye, this might mean that something is irritating them from the inside.

Since this has to be treated at the vet, you must take them in if your pet starts doing either of these activities. You want to give them something for the pain, but this isn’t advised unless you are sure there’s no foreign object in their eye. It could cause them even more problems if you’re not careful.

You may also read: What Causes Cloudiness in a Dog’s Eyes

How to Tell if it is an Injury or Something More Serious

Most dog owners think that any swelling under the eye could be an injury, but in reality, there are various causes for this common symptom. The doctor will start by performing a physical exam and asking you some questions about your dog’s health. You’ll need to tell them if they’ve been in a fight with another animal or if you know of any recent injuries they could have sustained. This will help the vet determine whether it’s an injury, foreign object, etc., causing the swelling.

In most cases, this is due to their eyes being irritated or a foreign object stuck underneath their eyelids. This can be removed with some basic first aid, but your dog will still have to go to the vet so they can determine if any other issues are going on.

You’ll also need to note whether it’s just one eye that is swollen or both eyes. If it’s just one, this could be due to your dog having a blocked tear duct. In this case, the swollen eye must be lanced for the fluid build-up to drain away.

If both of your dog’s eyes are swollen, you’ll have to determine whether there is a difference between the two or not. If it’s just because one of them has been injured and is swollen, you can give your pet some basic first aid at home to ease the pain and swelling.

However, if both of their eyes are swollen and there isn’t a clear difference between them, this usually indicates an infection or something more serious is going on. You’ll need to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible since this is something that needs to be treated immediately.

What Can be Done to Help Relieve Swelling and Discomfort

  • Offer him ice packs wrapped in a towel for 10 minutes every hour or so.
  • Place over-the-counter antihistamines in his food or drink.
  • Have him take an oatmeal or chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlortrimeton) bath.
  • Ask your veterinarian about putting him on a corticosteroid like prednisone to reduce the inflammation while you wait for his other symptoms to resolve.

Ways You Can Prevent Your Pet from Getting Injured in the First Place

  • Pup-proofing your home
  • Supervising pets when they play together
  • Ensure that areas in the yard with heavy vegetation are clear of debris so your pet doesn’t accidentally injure his teeth or paws.

Make playtime safe: The Best Dog Runs and Playpens – 2021 Reviews


If your dog’s eyes are swollen, it could be due to an injury or because they have some other underlying health issue. The doctor will determine whether this is just a case of their eye being irritated and giving them something for the pain, or if there’s any more serious cause, like an infection that needs immediate treatment. You can prevent your pet from getting injured in the first place by keeping things clear around areas with heavy vegetation so teeth and paws don’t get snagged on debris.

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