Why Is There Blood in My Dog’s Eyes? Hyphema Vs. Retinal Hemorrhage

If you notice your pup having difficulties seeing and difficulties maneuvering around, you should seek professional attention from a trusted vet ASAP. Retinal hemorrhage and hyphema in dogs are often associated with unexplainable bleeding in dogs’ eyes or other body parts. So, if you’re asking “why is there blood in my dog’s eyes, you’ve come to the right place. This guide highlights some of the common causes of bleeding in dogs’ eyes, signs and symptoms to look out for, and possible treatment measures.

Retinal Hemorrhage in Dogs

Retinal hemorrhage is a health condition that causes the innermost lining of a dog’s eye to bleed into the lining, either locally or in a generalized manner. And since common causes of retinal hemorrhage are often genetic and breed-specific, this condition may involve one or both eyes, and the specific age of onset depends largely on the ocular issues or underlying conditions. Retinal hemorrhages in dogs may also arise from some pathologic processes either in the eye or other body parts.

Generally speaking, the presence of retinal hemorrhages is usually a sign of a more serious underlying disease. More often, the underlying disease may pose a huger threat to the health of your dog than the actual retinal hemorrhage. So, always seek immediate medical attention for your pet whenever you suspect retinal hemorrhage.

Bloody dog eyes
Bloody dog eyes

The following dog breeds are often at a higher risk of suffering retinal hemorrhage:

  • Shetland Sheep Dogs
  • Collies
  • Sealyham Terriers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Australian Shepherds;
  • Bedlington Terriers
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • English Springer 
  • Spaniels 

Symptoms and Types of Retinal Hemorrhage in Dogs

Common symptoms of Retinal Hemorrhage in Dogs include:

  • Vision loss/blindness associated with bumping into objects
  • Blood in urine, feces
  • Bleeding in other body parts coupled with small bruises throughout the body
  • Pupil not contracting when the eye is subjected to bright light 
  • Whitish-appearing pupil

Causes of Retinal Hemorrhage in Dogs

Here are some common causes of Retinal Hemorrhage in Dogs:

  • Genetic (noticed at birth)
  • Poor development of the eye’s lubricating fluids (vitreous humor) or retina
  • Acquired health conditions
  • Trauma/injury
  • High levels of thyroid hormones
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) 
  • Increased levels of certain steroids
  • Kidney disease or heart disease
  • Some bacterial or fungal infections
  • Exposure to certain chemicals like paracetamol
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Blood disorders – anemia, hyperviscosity of blood, blood-clotting disorders, etc.
  • Inflammation of blood vessels

Diagnosis of Retinal Hemorrhage in Dogs

Veterinarians often perform comprehensive physical exams to diagnose hemorrhage in dogs accurately. You will need to provide your veterinarian with a comprehensive history of your pet’s health, prevailing symptoms, and any possible incidents that could have led to the bleeding. 

Standard lab tests that your vet may perform include:

  • Blood chemical profile
  • An electrolyte panel
  • Complete blood count
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood pressure tests and more.

The physical examination will entail a complete ophthalmic exam with a slit lamp microscope. Your vet will examine the retina at the back of your dog’s eye for abnormalities. They will also measure the retina’s electrical activity and carry out an ultrasound of the eye if the retina is not clearly visible due to hemorrhaging. Additionally, vitreous humor (eye fluid) samples may be taken for lab analysis. If your dog breed is considered susceptible to familial retinal disease, your vet may carry our genetic testing.

Treatment Retinal Hemorrhage in Dogs

Dogs with retinal hemorrhage are often hospitalized and monitored closely by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Typically, your vet will prescribe medications based on the underlying cause of the condition. In some situations, your vet may recommend surgery to reconnect the retina to the choroid coat.

After treatment, your veterinarian will schedule regular follow-up appointments to monitor the deterioration or progress of the retina (post-surgically) and other underlying diseases that caused it to detach. If your dog loses sight due the retinal detachment, the good news is that the treatment will help alleviate pain, enabling your pooch to lead a happy and fulfilling life indoors. Be careful not to allow your dog to go outdoors unsupervised and help him cope with the new situation. 

Hyphema in Dogs

Hyphema is a condition associated with blood appearing in the anterior chamber of a dog’s eye. It is a clinical sign and not a disease, as many dog parents often assume. Hyphema symptoms are largely dependent on the amount of bleeding, whether or not vision has been impaired. In most cases, hyphema manifests alongside other underlying systemic diseases.

Dog eyes bleeding
Dog eyes bleeding

Some common signs that appear during a physical examination include:

  • Corneal lesions or edema
  • Blood in the anterior chamber of the eye
  • IOP (elevated intraocular pressure)

Causes of Hyphema in Dogs

Common causes of hyphema in dogs include:

  • Severe retinal detachment
  • Injury or trauma to the head or eyes
  • Infection by parasites
  • Hypertension, systemic deficiencies, and hyperthyroidism
  • Ocular defects – glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, and collie eye anomaly
  • Bleeding vessels – uveal neoplasia, vasculitis, uveitis, and lymphoma 

Hyphema may also be a sign of various eye and systemic deficiencies that may be life-threatening. So, it’s important to take your dog to a vet for professional diagnosis and proper treatment.

Hyphema Diagnosis

Vets usually diagnose hyphema through blood biochemistry tests, lab tests, hematology, and diagnostic imaging with X-rays and ultrasound tests. Additionally, your vet will evaluate your dog’s complete medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination to determine possible causes.

Some common diagnostic tests and procedures for hyphema include:

  • Serum biochemistry to check serum levels in protein
  • Complete blood count test with platelet count
  • Blood pressure
  • Coagulopathy tests to check blood coagulation functions
  • Chest and abdominal X-rays
  • Urinalysis to exclude kidney diseases

With ocular ultrasounds (ultrasonography), your vet can investigate the anterior portion of your dog’s eye and include/exclude any possibilities of retinal detachment, abnormal masses, lens displacement, and vitreal hemorrhage.

Hyphema Treatment

Depending on the outcome of the above tests, your vet may suggest a hyphema treatment method aimed at containing the inflammation and eliminating the underlying causes that contribute to the bleeding.

Common approaches to hyphema treatment include:

  • Atropine eye drops to moisturize the pupil and eliminate sticking between the iris and the lens
  • Corticosteroids eye drops or ointment to treat inflammation 
  • Treatments for ocular deficiencies, such as retinal abnormalities, glaucoma, and collie eye anomaly
  • Surgical procedures to correct any traumatic injuries and lesions.

During the treatment, you’ll need to restrict your dog’s movement. And if the condition has impaired vision, avoid letting your pet go out unsupervised. To prevent your pup from inflicting further irritation or injury to the eye by pawing at it, consider investing in an appropriate cone collar. This special collar is designed to fit around the neck and prevent your dog from reaching the face with his paws.

My Dog’s Eyelid Bleeding: What To Do?

If your dog’s eyelid is bleeding, it’s critical to act quickly to determine how they got the injury and immediately take him to the vet.

Causes of a Bleeding Eyelid

Multiple conditions, disorders, and injuries can cause dogs to bleed from the eyelid. The eyelid is among the most sensitive parts of a dog’s body and protects the eye against dust, foreign debris, and dirt. Dogs actually have three eyelids, with the third one known as the haw or nictitating membrane. This third lid lies in the lower corner and can be easy to miss, depending on your dog’s breed. Its color often differs from clear to cloudy.

So, here are some common reasons your dog’s eyelid may bleed:

  • Impact from a sharp object
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer or a tumor
  • Retinal Hemorrhage
  • Infection
  • Conjunctivitis

Whenever you notice blood in your dog’s eyelid, you need to be cautious and get her expert care as soon as possible. In most cases, these issues arise when your dog bumps into a sharp object or has a scuffle with another animal, especially cats. But regardless of the cause, be sure to take your dog to the vet for a professional diagnosis and treatment. A serious eyelid injury or condition can result in vision impairments or blindness.

Symptoms of a Bleeding Eyelid

If a bump appears on your dog’s eyelid prior to the bleeding, the problem could be due to growth or tumor and will require professional evaluation to determine whether it’s cancerous or not. More often, a tumor can impair your dog’s ability to blink properly, cause an infection, or irritate their eye. Watch out for signs of pain or irritation, such as pawing or rubbing on their eye area. Conjunctivitis may also cause eyelid bleeding, and it’s something you need to be aware of if you notice puffiness or redness around your pup’s eyes.

Next Steps

If you notice your dog’s eyes bleeding, the first step is to inspect the area for any foreign matter that may be lodged in the eye. Keep them from pawing at the eye and the injured area and try compressing the eye to help ease pain and carefully wipe away any foreign matter. Avoid using your own eye medication but only vet-prescribed medications. 

Regardless of what caused your dog’s eye to bleed, such complications can lead to permanent vision problems and should be addressed immediately. The best idea is to take your pet to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. An experienced vet will help you identify the underlying cause and suggest the correct treatment approach.

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