Is It Bad If My Dog’s Eye is Bleeding?

Dog Eye Bleeding Your Questions Answered

Yes, dog eye bleeding is bad.

If your dog’s eye is bleeding, it is important to treat it as an emergency and call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will examine your dog to determine where blood is coming from, and whether or not there is a more serious medical issue that needs to be addressed.

If your veterinarian determines that the skin covering and surrounding your dog’s eye is bleeding, such as the eyelid, the situation tends to be less serious and may be relatively simple to treat. 

Bleeding or blood within a dog’s eyeball, also known as an intraocular hemorrhage,  can involve four or more areas within the eye. In some cases, a dog’s condition may cause bleeding into more than one part of the eye. 

When bleeding occurs in the anterior chamber of the dog’s eye, it is called hyphema. This chamber is between the cornea and the lens. 

Iridal petechiae are small spots of hemorrhage or bleeding in the iris of the eye, which can be single or multiple, and they can be in different shapes. 

Vitreal hemorrhage, which is less likely, is blood in the vitreous, which is a thick substance in the posterior chamber of the eye between the lens and the retina. 

And finally, retinal hemorrhage is bleeding in and around the retina, including the innermost lining of the dog’s eye. 

The presence of hemorrhage in these areas is not a disease itself, but any one of these findings can be associated with more concerning eye conditions or systemic diseases that can be serious.

Regardless of the underlying cause, dog eye bleeding is concerning and requires immediate vet attention. Blood accumulation can damage the optic nerve and impair vision. Additionally, some causes of dog eye bleeding may be life-threatening.

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Can a Blood Vessel Burst in a Dog’s Eye?

Yes, blood vessels can break or burst in the dog’s eye. This can occur as a result of injury or a pre-existing condition (of the eye or systemic disease).

Ruptured blood vessels in the surface of the dog’s eye are not dangerous and usually resolve on their own. However, they still require attention to determine the underlying cause and rule out possible changes in the eye structures and if further diagnostics or treatments are needed.

What Would Cause a Dog’s Eye to Bleed?

Dog Eye Bleeding Your Questions Answered

Causes of dog eye bleeding include penetrating eye injuries, blunt trauma injuries, blood clotting disorders,  hypertension, some infections such as tick-borne diseases, vasculitis or inflammation of blood vessels, autoimmune disease, certain cancers, drug reactions, and poison ingestion. Here is a closer look at the most common causes of eye bleeding in dogs:

  • Eye Injuries & Head Trauma: Injuries or blunt trauma to the eyes and head often trigger bleeding. Depending on the type of injury,  the dog can also exhibit systemic signs and symptoms associated with these injuries.
  • Retinal Detachment:  While retinal detachment is not seen that frequently in veterinary practice, it is a severe dog eye condition in which the retina detaches from the back of the eye, causing blood to accumulate in the eye and temporary or permanent blindness. It is more common in senior dogs and can be either genetic or acquired.
  • Hypertension: Hypertension or high blood pressure in dogs may result in dog eye bleeding. The increased pressure within the blood vessels can make them break or rupture, thus causing bleeding.
  • Blood Clotting Disorders: Blood clotting disorders can result from Rodenticide poisoning, autoimmune diseases, and some infections, and may cause spontaneous bleeding in the eye. 
  • Cancer: Some cancers can lead to inflammation of the blood vessels causing bleeding in the eye, and some tumors can actually grow and bleed in the eye.
  • Ocular Abnormalities: Some congenital or acquired eye problems and defects increase the risk of dog eye bleeding. Such conditions are called collie eye syndrome, retinal dysplasia, and glaucoma. 

Dog eye bleeding caused by eye abnormalities is usually unilateral (affects only one eye). On the other hand, bleeding triggered by systemic diseases tends to be bilateral (affects both eyes).

What Should I Do For Dog Eye Bleeding?

Dog Eye Bleeding Your Questions Answered

As previously recommended,  in the case of dog eye bleeding, you need to seek vet help. If you cannot get in touch with your regular vet, head towards the nearest emergency clinic. If the bleeding is the result of injury, you can put a cool compress on the dog’s eye.

If your regular veterinarian has to refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist,  the veterinary ophthalmologist may conduct and order specific tests to determine the cause of the problem. Common tests are tonometry (measuring the intraocular pressure), x-rays, and ocular ultrasounds.

Sometimes, dogs with eye bleeding can have other eye changes, such as the red eye (conjunctivitis) and corneal ulcers (defects of the cornea). Pawing at the eye, blepharospasm (squinting), and epiphora (increased tear production) are also common symptoms of eye problems.

According to Dr. Lisa Steinberg, “Seeing your dog’s eye bleeding on the outside or red with blood on the inside can be quite unsettling and scary. However, it’s important to remain calm and call your veterinarian. While some dogs may have a more serious systemic illness, most causes of a bleeding eye are treatable, and may simply require a short period of topical and oral medications”.

What Is the Best Solution to Stop Bleeding from a Dog’s Eye?

There is no single best solution for dog eye bleeding, and the right approach depends on the underlying cause of the bleeding in the eye. In general, the treatment has two goals – managing the bleeding and managing the cause to prevent it from happening repeatedly.

Your veterinarian may prescribe eye drops or ointment with corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatories to address any inflammation associated with the bleeding. They also may give you antibiotics or drops called atropine which helps with discomfort and help to prevent some scarring that can result in the lens sticking to the iris in the eye. 

Dr. Lisa Steinberg notes that “one of the most challenging issues is for an owner to apply medication to the eyes, but with patience and perseverance, you will find that it is easier than you thought.” 

Treatment for any underlying causes of dog eye bleeding vary greatly based on your veterinarian’s findings. As some illnesses can be very involved with treatment, your veterinarian will inform you of the extent of the treatment, and what your options are, and they will likely suggest the best course of action.

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Oluwatosin Jegede