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Red Eyes

Beagles with Red, Bloodshot Eyes


Many owners wonder if it's normal for a Beagle to have bloodshot eyes. The answer is that while it is not normal, it is very common. In fact, this happens to Beagles so much that some owners tend to think it may be a trait of the breed.  

When the blood vessels in the white part of the eye (the sclera) become swollen, this causes them to become visible. This is referred to as bloodshot eyes or red eye.

It may happen in one or both eyes and it may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms.
In some cases it will clear up on its own, though it is best to help it along with some easy at-home treatments. A Beagle may have an acute case or a Beagle may be plagued with chronic red eye that keeps coming back.

In this section we are going to discuss:
  • The 5 most common reasons that a Beagle will have bloodshot eyes
  • Easy, at-home remedies to help clear up bloodshot eyes in a Beagle puppy or older dog
  • Other symptoms that may present alongside this condition
  • Red flag signs that a Beagle will need to be seen by a veterinarian
The 5 Most Common Reasons that a Beagle will have Bloodshot Eyes

1) Air borne Irritation, foreign body -When outdoors, this breed tends to be curious and sniffing after a scent is sometimes hard to resist. Beagles will explore head first which puts the eyes at risk for foreign debris getting caught in the eye(s). Even if you keep your Beagle on leash, any time that he is outside and there is an opportunity to investigate, there is a chance that fine dust, dirt and other debris may irritate one or both eyes.  

Possible outdoor foreign bodies that may enter the eye can cause it to become bloodshot are tiny grains of sand, small pieces of grass or even a tiny outdoor flea.

There are also indoor environmental irritants that may cause a Beagle to develop bloodshot eyes. Anytime dust is kicked up (if a heating system has been turned on for the first time for the season, etc.) cigarette smoke and other fine indoor irritants can cause a reaction in the eyes. If a Beagle has been playing on carpeting, a carpet fiber may have broken off and found its way onto the eyeball. Even a piece of food may become stuck on the eye.

In the case of smoke or other airborne irritant, this often clears up on its own though it can be helped along by rinsing the eyes. 

For instances of foreign bodies, a rinse may be able to remove the object, though if caused a cut to the eye this may need to be treated with antibiotic drops. After flushing the eyes, if there is no improvement within 24 hours or if there are any new symptoms, you'll want to have the Beagle's eyes examined by a veterinarian.

2) Dry eye (kerato-conjunctivitis sicca)- If a Beagle has an ongoing problem along with a thick, gooey, sometimes stringy discharge, it may be a matter of dry eye. This is a condition in which the tear glands do not produce enough natural tears which causes the eyes to dry out. Without tears, only oil and mucus are being secreted; which causes a buildup of thick yellow or yellow-brown puss. 

Additional signs include excessive blinking and swelling of the tissue around the eye socket.

The clinical sign of thick yellow to brown discharge and crusting is also a sign of conjunctivitis, and for this reason tear production will be measured using the Schirmer tear test. This a relatively non-invasive test in which a special strip of absorbent paper is placed just inside the Beagle's lower eyelid. It is left there for exactly one minute to measure in increments of millimeters how much natural moisture comes from the eye. 15mm is considered normal, 11 to 14 mm is borderline, 10 mm and under is very dry and a sign of kerato-conjunctivitis sicca.

A sample of the discharge may be tested to look for bacteria and other underlying causes.

Treatment typically involves artificial tear drops and/ or lubricants that are applied one to three times per day. For many dogs treatment will be lifelong. It will be important to follow instructions for keeping the eyes lubricated since this can condition can lead to inflammation and ulcers of the cornea and even permanent blindness in some cases.
3) Injury - Pawing at the eye or a small piece of debris embedded in the eye are the two most common reasons for minor to moderate injury in which a Beagle's cornea becomes scratched. If this happens, along with bloodshot eyes the Beagle will squint, blink quite a bit and avoid bright lights. There may also be excessive tearing of a clear watery fluid which is just an overproduction of natural tears as the body responds to the injury.

You'll want to first rule out simple foreign debris by inspecting the affected eye and flushing it out if you do see something. Any object that appears to have penetrated the eye will need to be removed by the vet.

With continued blinking, squinting and bloodshot eyes, a Beagle should be brought to the veterinarian for diagnosis. 
The affected eye will be examined to determine if the cornea (the transparent outer layer) or the sclera (the white part of the eye) has been injured.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the eye injury. In most cases, the goal will be to prevent a Beagle from pawing at his eyes which can cause further damage and prevent healing. For this reason, an Elizabethan collar may be placed onto the puppy or dog.

In addition, an atropine eye solution is often prescribed which helps to relive pain associated with injury by dilating the eyes. Antibiotic drops are usually prescribed as well to prevent infection. 

For moderate to severe lacerations, anti-inflammatory medications and analgesics are given as well.

Depending on how deep the cut is, this sort of Beagle eye problem will typically heal in 1 to 4 weeks with proper treatment.
4) Conjunctivitis- When there is an inflammation of the lining in the eye, this is referred to as Conjunctivitis which can have many causes. This can be triggered by allergies, problems with the tear ducts, injury or even a birth defect.
The signs of this are similar to other causes for bloodshot eyes with a Beagle including excessive blinking, swelling around the eye lids and squinting. Symptoms that may set this apart from other issues is a crusting over the lid that often develops while the Beagle sleeps and can be so thick that it makes it difficult for the dog to open his eye in the morning.

Since this can be mistaken for the above mentioned kerato-conjunctivitis sicca, testing will be done confirm conjunctivitis and then to pinpoint the underlying cause. Treatment will vary depending on the trigger, though most dogs are given eye drops to help with pain, saline washes to keep help clean the discharge and antibiotics to prevent infection.

5) Allergies - A Beagle may be allergic to an environmental factor such as pollen or weeds, have a contact allergy or even be allergic to a particular food. In most cases there will be other signs besides only having bloodshot eyes. Depending on the trigger there may be itching (the Beagle will scratch and/or chew at areas of the body), changes to the coat, nasal discharge, coughing and/or wheezing. 

If eyes are bloodshot due to allergies without any other symptoms, this is usually a case of intolerance to high pollen in the air or other pollutants such as dust. Treatment typically involves flushing the eyes along with an antihistamine.

Any factors such as dust or pollen that is tracked into the house that can be removed, should be. Using a HEPA certified vacuum is recommended. To effectively remove allergens, you'll want to use a vacuum that can trap 97% of microbes that as small as 0.3 micrometre in size. True HEPA machines filter all of the air that is drawn in, therefore not only cleaning the flooring but filtering airborne elements as well.  
Other Possible Reasons for Bloodshot Eyes

While much rarer, there are other conditions that can cause a Beagle's eyes to become bloodshot. These conditions will have other noticeable signs.

Cherry Eye- The 3rd eyelid which is located in the corner of a dog's eye and normally is not seen slips out of place. If this happens, the eye will be red however you will also see a pink bulge of tissue in the eye. Treatment often calls out for surgical repositioning.

Glaucoma - This is a condition in which there is high pressure within the eye, eyes will become very bloodshot in response to this. A cloudy appearance to the eye is almost always another clear sign. A Beagle may also have excessive blinking, the pupil may be dilated and/or there may be reduced vision. Left untreated, it can lead to vision loss. 

This is best treated by a veterinary ophthalmologist. In many cases, there will be an attempt to manage the condition with medication to lower the pressure in the eye. A treatment called cyclocryotherapy in which applied cold temperature reduces internal excessive fluid in the eye may be tried. Prognosis is best if the glaucoma is caught early. If a dog does not respond to treatment, the eye may need to be surgically removed.

Ectropion or Entropion- The first is an outward turning of the upper lid, which causes the lower lid to droop. The second is a inward rolling of the eyelid. Both can cause bloodshot eyes along with a watery discharge. While this is prevalent in many breeds it is not common with the Beagle.

Burst blood vessels in the eye - This can happen if a Beagle excessively pulls while on leash or if the dog is tied and pulls to free himself. It can also - in some cases - happen if a dog becomes exceptionally excited. If a Beagle tends to forcibly pull while on leash, it is suggested to use a harness as opposed to a collar which will prevent this sort of issue from happening.

While most cases will subside within a week, it is recommended to bring the Beagle to the vet to rule out any abrasions or tears.

At-Home Remedies to Fix a Beagle's Bloodshot Eyes

If your Beagle's eyes are red and there are no other worrying signs such as a thick discharge, this can usually be cleared up by flushing the eyes. This will work to remove any foreign debris or rinse out any environmental factor that may be causing irritation.

Of course, most dogs are not going to sit nicely while you do this, so having a helper will make things much easier. For dogs that get bloodshot eyes a lot, the dog may begin to tolerate the drops after some time. It's always a good idea to have a treat handy to reward your Beagle, even if he squirms and makes a fuss.

How to Flush a Beagle's Eyes:

We do not suggest trying to remove any debris with your fingers as this may cause damage to the eye. You will need a quality canine eye saline wash and small pieces of sterilize gauze. It is recommended to use a reputable manufactured cleanser; home remedies that involve mixing table salt with filtered water are not recommended since an incorrect measuring can cause severe burning and further damage to a Beagle's eyes.

1) Gently pull the lower lid down and out, placing 2 to 3 drops into the small pocket that is formed by doing so.

2) Release and allow your Beagle to blink. This will distribute the solution over the entire eyeball.

3) Use a sterile piece of gauze to wipe down and away, swooping up both fluid and any debris that has been loosened. 

Note: For heavily bloodshot eyes, you may want to repeat this in both eyes and this can be done twice per day. If the eyes do not clear up within 24 hours or if there are any new symptoms, it will be time to bring your Beagle to the vet.

Red Flags

Simple bloodshot eyes can be the result of things as trivial as a Beagle rushing through the grass or straining his eyes too much the night before. However, continued chronic red eyes are a sign that there is an underlying health condition.

In addition, if there are other symptoms, you will want to have your Beagle examined by the vet as soon as possible. This includes but is not limited to:
  • Excessive watering and tearing
  • Discharge - yellow, green, brown or any other color
  • Crusting around the eye
  • Swelling of the lids or any of the tissue around the socket
  • The eye is partially or fully closed
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Heavy panting
What Does it Mean if a Beagle Has Bloodshot Eyes Only at Night
This is not that uncommon and can leave owners a bit baffled. A Beagle may only develop red eyes late in the evening as the day is winding down. Most often this is caused by an environmental factor that causes a gradual irritation throughout the day; by the time evening rolls around the eyes are showing a reaction. When the dog sleeps, the eye lids are closed and things clear up only to begin again the next day. 

This is usually caused by air pollutants including pollen and dust; though it can also be a sign of eye strain. If rinsing the eyes does not work, it is suggested to have the Beagle examined by a trained veterinary ophthalmologist who will be able to test for possible vision problems and further diagnose the cause. 
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