Why Are My Shih Tzu’s Eyes Red or Bloodshot?


Shih Tzus are a breed of dog that many people are interested in, but anyone that is looking to get this breed should be aware of the potential risks to their health that could occur due to their eyes being more vulnerable than other dogs. If you own a Shih Tzu and have noticed that their eyes are red or bloodshot, then it is possible that they have a serious medical condition that requires treatment.

Red or bloodshot eyes do not always necessarily mean that something is seriously wrong, but it does usually mean that there is a cause that needs to be treated. These dogs are renowned for developing eye conditions, and the main symptoms of these conditions are usually red or bloodshot eyes, but it can develop into something much worse.

If you have noticed that this is the case for your dog, you are probably wondering why this is happening. We are going to tell you everything that you need to know about Shih Tzus and their eyes in this article and answer all of your questions on the subject. This will help you to figure out what is going on, and what you need to do next.

Why Are My Shih Tzu’s Eyes Red or Bloodshot?

Due to the fact that Shih Tzus are a breed that are prone to developing eye conditions, there could be a variety of things that are wrong with your dog’s eyes if they are red or bloodshot.

Some of the most common conditions that are associated with these symptoms are cherry eye, dry eye, and allergies. We are going to look at all of these things and more below to help give you a better understanding of what is going on.

Is it Normal for Shih Tzus to Have Red Eyes?

Shih Tzus do have a number of characteristics that you wouldn’t typically find in other dogs, like a squashed face and a muzzle that is short and flat. However, one characteristic that any healthy Shih Tzu would not have is red or bloodshot eyes.

Just like any other healthy dog, the whites of the eyes should be white, and if they are not, it is likely that there is something wrong. 

Why Do Shih Tzus Have Problems With Their Eyes?

One of the most common of all of the health concerns when it comes to Shih Tzus are those that are associated with the eyes. This breed has eyes that are more pronounced and protruding, which makes them prone to a variety of problems. Eye infections are one of the most common problems for Shih Tzus to develop due to the fact that they have large eyes and shallow eye sockets.

It can also be the case that foreign materials that are moving around in the air get into the area under their eyes, which can lead to inflammation and infection. There is a long list of eye problems that can occur, but this doesn’t mean that your Shih Tzu is definitely going to develop one. A good level of eye care can work to prevent some conditions. However, there will be other conditions that have a genetic origin, making them unavoidable.

Something that every owner of a Shih Tzu should know is that eye problems are much more common for their dogs due to their anatomy, which is why it is really important to keep an eye out for any signs that could indicate that something is wrong. The only way to actually avoid these problems is to only breed dogs that do not have prominent eyes and exaggerated facial features. However, this is often unavoidable as this is part of the breed standard.

Why Does My Shih Tzu Have Red Eyes?

Unfortunately, Shih Tzus can inherit or develop a wide variety of different eye conditions, and some of these conditions can lead to blindness if they are left untreated. Impacted eyesight can have a huge influence over your dog’s life, which is why it is really important to catch an eye condition early, so it can be treated accordingly and hopefully prevent it from leading to permanent blindness.

Due to the fact that Shih Tzu eyes protrude naturally, they are more vulnerable to eye injuries, so it doesn’t always have to be a medical condition. The cornea can get scraped or punctured much more easily, which is one of the most common injury types. This is going to really hurt, and these injuries can get infected and affect your dog’s vision. This is why you should never let them ride in the car with their head out the window, as this is one of the leading causes of eye injuries.

As we have previously mentioned, some of the main causes of red or bloodshot eyes in Shih Tzus are cherry eye, dry eye, or an allergy. These will often present a bloodshot appearance, and we will provide you some more information on these conditions below.

Shih Tzu Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is a type of tear gland inflammation that can commonly affect Shih Tzus, and if your dog has what looks to be a small red cherry in the corner of their eye, then it is likely that they have tear gland inflammation. This can lead to eye duct slippage if the glands become too swollen, and it will require treatment as soon as possible.

Cherry eye is something that affects the tear duct gland, which causes it to swell up and look reddened. In some of the worst cases, the gland could actually move from its natural position as it has become too big and swollen. When it has been left untreated, it can go on to impact your dog’s vision. If you notice this, you will need to take your dog to see a vet straight away. 

The main symptoms of cherry eye or red and bloodshot eyes, some visible discharge, and lots of blinking. Sometimes, this condition may clear up on its own, and other times, it will need medical attention from a vet.

How is Cherry Eye Treated in Dogs?

There are typically two ways to treat cherry eye in dogs, which are medical management and a surgical procedure. When it comes to medical management, a vet will prescribe a steroid ointment eye drop that encourages the eye gland to return back to its normal position. If the treatment is unsuccessful, then the next stage would be surgery. 

Your vet would try to avoid removing the red eye gland if they are able to, but this is something that may have to happen in more serious cases. Your vet will sometimes be able to recommend a procedure to reposition the gland to its normal position instead.

Dry Eye 

Another reason that could explain why your Shih Tzu has red eyes could be that they have a condition that is called dry eye. This is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, which is a painful condition that will require immediate medical attention. If your Shih Tzus tear glands look fine, but their eyes are still red, then it is likely that they have dry eye. Another symptom of this is excessive blinking, as they are trying to lubricate their eyes, but it is not working. You might also notice some swelling around the eyelids or a yellow discharge.

A dog that has dry eye will not be able to produce any tears which means that the eye cannot be properly lubricated. Dry eye can cause a lot of pain, and it can also lead to long-term issues. Without proper lubrication, the eyes will no longer be able to get rid of debris and irritants in the eye. This can go on to irritate the eye further and cause even more pain.

Without proper treatment, this is something that can lead to permanent vision loss, which is why you should take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice any signs of this condition. Your vet will typically treat dry eye with a combination of eye drops, pain-killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and potentially antibiotics if they are needed.

How is Dry Eye Treated in Dogs?

For the majority of the time, dry eye will be treated by stimulating the tear glands to allow them to produce more tears. This is typically done through the  use of a drug that is called cyclosporine. This will help with both tear production and by reversing the immune-mediated tear gland destruction. It typically comes in the form of an eye ointment, and has a concentration of 0.2%. This is something that can be used for around up to six weeks, and if there is no improvement after this time, a higher concentration may be needed.

If after time the medical treatment is still not successful, then a surgical treatment that is called Parotid Duct Transposition may be needed. During this procedure, the tube that carries saliva from the salivary gland to the mouth will be moved and surgically stitched into the pocket inside the lower. The saliva that is being produced will wet the eye and help to keep it functioning and comfortable. 

Why Are My Shih Tzus Eyes Bloodshot?

If your Shih Tzu has bloodshot eyes, but you cannot see any signs of things like swelling, dry eyes, or cherry eye, then it could be that they are experiencing allergies or simply that they are tired.

Allergies

Shih Tzu eye allergies are relatively easy to recognize as they will usually lead to bloodshot eyes and a clear discharge with no color to it. An allergy is something that can occur quite quickly, and it can be caused by many different things, like dust, dust mites, pollen, or even mold in their eyes. There are two types of allergies that can occur in the eyes, which are airborne allergies and contact allergies.

Airborne allergies are from things like grass, dust, and pollen, or any other small particles that can travel into your dog’s eyes through the air. Contact allergies are those that occur through touch. This could be due to many things from their bedding to their food, or anything else that they may have come into contact with. If your dog is suffering from an allergy, it is likely that both of their eyes will be bloodshot at the same time, rather than one eye being affected.

Other Issues That Shih Tzus Can Have With Their Eyes

There are so many things that could potentially go wrong when it comes to Shih Tzus and their eyes, and there are lots of other visual problems that they could be experiencing. We will leave a list of some of the more common issues below.

Eye inflammation and irritation – It doesn’t;’t just have to be allergies to cause eye problems with sleep dust, and it could also be general irritation. This is something that can typically be treated with an eye ointment. Another symptom of this is excessive blinking or an obstruction in the eye.

Eyelash abnormalities – This could mean that the eyelashes are either ingrown or that they are growing from an abnormal place on the eyelid. They can even grow from the inside of the eyelid, which can cause damage to your dog’s eye.

Entropion – This is another common eye issue that can affect Shih Tzus, and this can happen when the eyelid hairs connect with and rub on the cornea of the eye. This will irritate the eye, and it is particularly common in puppies. Usually, this is something that they will grow out of over time.

Corneal abrasions and ulcerations – These will usually occur in Shih Tzus or other flat-faced dog breeds that have bulging eyes. This can occur following from dry eye. 

Pigmentary keratitis – This is something that presents itself through a brown or black color across the surface of your dog’s eye, and it is caused when the pigmented melanin granules are deposited onto the eye.

Home Remedies for Allergies

If you are sure that your dog is suffering from allergies, then there are some things that you can do for them at home. It is usually better to check with your vet to make sure that it is simply allergies that are irritating their eyes, but once you have confirmation of this, you can work to find the right solution for your dog.

The Use of Herbs

Something that you might not have known is that there are lots of different herbs and herbal products that can be used to alleviate the redness of a dog’s eyes and reduce any discomfort. One of the most commonly used herbs is called eyebright which can be used to create eye drops that can treat your Shih Tzus eyes. It only needs to be used in small amounts (around an ounce), and then you should steep it in boiling water. The herbs should be in the water for at least 60 minutes.

Once the mixture is ready, you can apply the eye drops to your dog’s eyes, and you can do this for up to 4 times a day if they need it. You should always talk to your vet if you are planning on using any herbal remedies for your dog.  

Changing Your Dog’s Diet

As we have previously mentioned, something that could be causing your dog’s allergies is the food that they are eating. This is why you might want to change up their diet to ensure that this is not the cause.

Some foods to be aware of that are good for eye health are sardines, kale, broccoli, blueberries, and other vegetables. Sardines contain omega oils for eye health, kale and broccoli contain phytonutrients, and blueberries contain antioxidants.

Maintenance and Eye Cleaning

Even if your Shih Tzus eyes look fine and normal, you should still make a habit out of keeping their eyes clean and healthy, just to be on the safe side. You can use a cloth and some warm water to clean the area around your dog’s eyes. You can also use a warm saline solution instead of water.

When cleaning, you should start at the center, then move towards the part of the eye that is closest to their snot. You should always clean slowly and carefully to avoid accidentally causing any pain or injury.

When Should I Call a Vet if My Dog is Experiencing Eye Problems?

More often than not, the best thing to do when you notice that there is something wrong with your dog’s eyes is to call the vet. Your vet will be able to take a look at your dog and give them a proper diagnosis. Once they have this diagnosis, they will be able to prescribe medication and treatment in order to solve the problem. Delaying a trip to the vet can lead the condition to worsen, and lead to a loss of vision or even permanent blindness. 

So, before you even think about trying any home remedies, you should talk to your vet first. The last thing you want to do is make the problem worse, and your vet will know exactly what to do to help your dog. If your dog has never had any issues with their eyes before, then a vet appointment is even more important to find out what is happening to them. While it might seem like a simple symptom, there is always the possibility that it is part or a larger and more serious issue.

There are lots of signs that your dog will present that mean that they need professional treatment, and a big giveaway is usually if they will not let you clean around their eyes. Some other signs to look out for are keeping their eyes closed more than they are open, crying out, trying to rub the eyes with their paw, or a fever combined with eye redness.

Summary

If you have noticed that there is something wrong with your dog’s eyes, or that they are either red or bloodshot, then you should contact a vet immediately. Shih Tzus are known for having serious issues with their eyes, so this is not something that should be overlooked in the hope that it will resolve itself. There is always the possibility that there is nothing seriously wrong, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

We have listed lots of conditions that your Shih Tzu could experience throughout their lifetime, but there are still lots more that we have not mentioned. Red or bloodshot eyes could mean anything from allergies to an eyesight-threatening condition, and you should always get this checked out, just in case.

If you are planning to use any home remedies for your dog, always check with a vet before using them, just in case they do more harm than good.

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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