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Evaluation and Diagnosis of a Red Eye in Dogs

Canine Eyes and Red Eye
Can My Dog Go Blind from Red Eye?

Prompt evaluation and diagnosis, along with effective treatment, reduces the risk that a red eye will develop into a blind eye. Your veterinarian offers a full range of testing and diagnostic tools to assess your dog’s condition.  Schedule an appointment with your veterinary clinic if you notice that your dog develops a red eye.

Dogs occasionally develop a red eye. The redness may be in the white of the eye, in the clear part of the eye called the cornea, or within the eyeball. There are many causes of a red eye, but all ocular diseases should always be considered an urgent matter, and be checked immediately by a veterinarian.

Evaluation

A dog owner will typically be asked to describe the pet’s medical history, symptoms, and if there were any pertinent events prior to the development of the red eye, such as injury or illness. The veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on any dog that has a red eye to look for any other abnormalities that may give a hint as to their cause. The veterinarian will then concentrate on the eyes. There are three basic ophthalmic tests: a Schirmer test, tonometry, and fluorescein staining.   

A Schirmer test measures tear production. Special paper strips are placed in each eye and it is noted how many millimeters of wetness the tears can form in 60 seconds. Too little tear production is called keratoconjuntivitis sicca (KCS) or "dry eye" is the common name.  Tonometry is used to measure the pressure inside the dog’s eyes; increased pressure indicates glaucoma. Fluorescein staining checks for any scratch or interruption of the outside covering of the cornea. A positive stain indicates a corneal ulcer.

There are other tests that may be performed. The veterinarian may swab any pus draining from the dog’s eyes and send it to the laboratory for testing. Lab work, including a chemistry panel, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis may be performed to check for underlying diseases. An ultrasound of an eye may be done to check for a detached retina or masses within the eye or between the eye and the bony eye socket.  

Diagnosis

A veterinarian diagnoses the cause of a dog’s red eye by assessing symptoms, medical history, physical examination, and laboratory testing. The most common causes of a red eye are a corneal ulcer, glaucoma, and conjunctivitis.

Corneal ulcers usually result from trauma such as running into a bush, fighting with other pets, or rubbing their eye. Ulcers are treated with topical antibiotics, and checked with fluorescein stain every few days until healed.

Glaucoma can occur in any dog, is sometimes related to other conditions such as cataracts, but is genetic in some breeds. Cocker Spaniels, terriers, Poodles, Basset Hounds, and Beagles are especially prone to this disease. Glaucoma can be very serious, it often leads to blindness. There are topical medications used to reduce the increased pressure.  

Conjunctivitis can have many causes. Dry eye causes a conjunctivitis; this is treated with a topical medication that increases the amount of tears produced. Conjunctivitis can also be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, or other irritants.

There are many other causes of a red eye: uveitis, orbital disease, bleeding disorders, trauma, luxated lens, etc. Your veterinarian can sort through all the possibilities and determine the appropriate treatment.

Sources:

American Kennel Club, Canine Health Foundation. "Canine Eye Health." November 2013.

Barfield Laminack, Elizabeth, DVM; Myrna, Kathern, DVM, MS; Moore, Phillip Anthony, DVM, Diplomate ACVO. “Clinical Approach to Canine Red Eye.” Today’s Veterinary Practice, May/June 2013.

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Return of the Rattlesnake Vaccination!

South Valley Animal Clinic is excited to announce the return of the Red Rock Biologics Rattlesnake Vaccination!  This vaccination is great for dog's planning on hiking, camping or just exploring the bosque.  Please call our office for scheduling or more information (505) 873-2590. 

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South Valley Animal Clinic Joins PACA's New Public Spay/Neuter Program

We are excited to announce our support of the 'Fix the 505' program.  Fix the 505 is a small scale FREE spay/neuter program for low income pet owners.  PACA (People's Anti-Cruelty Association) selected a few local veterinarian clinic's, including South Valley Animal Clinic to participate in this necessary program.  Please watch the short video above or visit http://paca-aar.org/index.php/donate/sponsor-a-spay for more information!

06/01/2015 UPDATE

This program has been restricted to South Valley residents struggling to spay or neuter their pets.  In order to get your pets scheduled, please request a PACA Voucher from The Animal Humane Society or from a Bernalillo County Animal Control officer .  Please call (505) 255-5523 for more information!

Testimonials

Dr. Heite and the rest of SVAC staff, Thank You! From the bottom of our hearts for your AMAZING care for our dogs. You're an awesome team, and we trust you above anyone else to provide immediate, compassionate, and reliable solutions. We cannot begin to thank you for going above and beyond to help Sissy. We know she has an amazing medical team. 

With heartfelt appreciation, Sanchez Family
Albuquerque, NM

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