Red Eye (Episcleritis) in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Aug. 14, 2008
Red Eye (Episcleritis) in Dogs

Episcleritis in Dogs

Redness of the white part of the eye (episclera) is a medical condition referred to as episcleritis. This medical condition is typically benign and easy to treat with topical ointments or eye drops. The inflammation will appear as either a small nodule or a thickening of the sclera with no related discharge or excess tearing. Although the inflammation is typically contained to the specific area, it is possible for the inflammation to spread to other areas of the eye. The prognosis is generally positive with treatment, although there are some possible complications that can occur.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Episcleritis may appear as a small growth or mass (nodule) in the eye. The nodule may be smooth, painless, pink, or tan in color, or it may look like a firm mass. In some cases, the inflammation may be more spread out, causing your dog's eye to become reddened and irritated. Your dog may also experience eye pain, show signs of discomfort, rub its eye frequently, have discharge, or even close the affected eye.


The development of this inflammation is thought to be related to the immune system. Also, bacterial infections or fungal infections, cancer (lymphoma), eye trauma, and glaucoma have been known to cause the eye to become inflamed.


Your veterinarian will want to perform a complete eye exam and rule out other possible causes for the inflammation. If there is a large mass located in the eye, a biopsy may be performed to rule out cancer. It is also possible that there is a foreign object in the eye that is causing the inflammation or infection.


The most common forms of treatment for this medical condition are topical ointments and eye drops, varying in concentration and based upon the severity of the inflammation. In most cases, the treatment can be performed on an outpatient basis, with observation recommended over the following weeks to ensure that the condition clears up and that no serious complications arise. An Elizabethan collar may be used to prevent your dog from scratching or rubbing at its eye while it is healing, and you will need to remain observant for any changes in your dog's eye so that you can report them to your veterinarian immediately, before complications can arise.

Living and Management

This condition may recur occasionally. Look for signs of discharge (mucus), reddening, or growth in the nodule. There are some known complications such as vision loss, chronic eye pain, and glaucoma.

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