Hyphema in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment


Does it seem like there may be blood in your dog's eye? The medical term for this is hyphema. There are various causes for this and lots of different things that you can do to help treat this issue inside your dog.

If you have suddenly realized that there is blood inside your dog's eye, it is best to take your dog to your vet immediately. The earlier that the dog starts to get treated for hyphema, the quicker and easier the recovery process could be. Some eye issues, otherwise treated within the first few days, can potentially cause permanent eye damage.

What is hyphema in dogs?

Hyphema in dogs is just blood inside your dog's eye. Usually, the blood collects in the front of the eye between the cornea (the surface of the eye) and the iris (the coloured area of the eye). You will normally see a red line along the bottom part from the eye. This is when the blood pools in the eye because of gravity. This is often due to a variety of reasons and frequently suddenly occurs.

Symptoms of Hyphema in Dogs

There are many different symptoms of hyphema in dogs. They are common stuff that you'd find out if your pet has hyphema.

  • Red in the eye
  • Cloudiness in front of the pupil and iris
  • Blood pooling in the bottom of the eye
  • Squinting from the eyes
  • Painful eyes
  • Keeping their eye closed
  • Unable to see

If you see any of these signs or symptoms inside your dog, it might be perfect for your dog to see your vet right away. Many eye issues need immediate focus on prevent them from resulting in permanent damage.

What causes hyphema in dogs?

There are many reasons that the dog may have hyphema. Included in this are:

  • Traumatic event towards the eye or head
  • Inflammation of the eye or uveitis
  • Tumor within the eye, lymphoma
  • Detached or torn retina
  • High blood pressure level or hypertension
  • Clotting issues
  • A disease of the dog’s platelets for example leukemia, blood loss, or anemia
  • A congenital disease of the dog’s eyes
  • Glaucoma

How is hyphema in dogs diagnosed?

As soon as you observe that there is anything wrong with your dog's eye, you ought to have your dog checked from your vet right away. Hyphema can be an indication that there's something more severe and life-threatening going on together with your dog.

Hyphema is generally diagnosed with just a physical exam by your vet. Your vet may need to do different tests in your dog's eyes to help determine why your dog has hyphemia. Most of the time, your vet will require your canine's blood pressure level, blood work, or x-rays to see why you have these problems.

These are specialized eye tests that your vet may perform:

  • Fluorescein stain test to look for abrasions on the surface from the eye
  • Tonometry to check the pressures of the dog's eye
  • Schirmer tear test to make certain that your dog is producing enough tears
  • Eye ultrasound to determine the structures of the dog's eye and make sure the retina is still attached
  • Slit-lamp to check for uveitis or other abnormalities of your dog's eye

Once all of these tests have been performed, your vet might be able to determine why your pet has hyphema.

If these simple eye tests do not determine the cause for hyphema inside your dog, there are other tests that your vet may want to go to determine the reason for this issue. Some diseases affect your dog's whole body and make the blood to form in their eye. Other tests that the vet may perform are:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): this will look for anemia or other platelet or blood disorders
  • Chemistry panel to evaluate overall organ functions
  • Urinalysis
  • Coagulation panel to make sure that your dog does not have a clotting issue causing blood to leak out of the blood vessels
  • Infectious disease panel: this is different based on where you live. There are different tick-borne diseases in different regions of the country that induce a clotting issue, that will result in hyphema in your dog's eye
  • Radiographs or Ultrasounds to look for tumors or any other cause of hyphema
  • Check blood pressure level to make certain that your pet doesn't have high blood pressure causing hyphema

Types of Hyphema

There are many diseases that your dog may have making them have hyphema. These diseases are:


Glaucoma is an increase in intraocular pressure. This increase in pressure may cause blood to develop inside your dog's eye. If your dog has glaucoma, you will notice that the globe from the eye gets bigger and is protruding forward. This can be a very painful condition in dogs with no treatment.


Hypertension is the medical term for increased blood pressure level. If your dog has high blood pressure, the blood can leak out of the vessels. When the blood is released from the vessels within the eye, it'll commonly cause blood to pool inside your dog's eye.

Intraocular Neoplasia

Dogs and cats could possibly get tumors growing to them. This most typical kind of ocular neoplasia is lymphoma. This can damage the attention and also the arteries in the eye. This can lead to a pooling of blood inside your dog's eye. Often, dogs with tumors within the eye will have to the entire eye removed to prevent the spread of the type of cancer to other parts of their body.


Some dogs can have a scratch on the surface of the eye, causing an ulcer. This ulcer is generally healed by blood vessels coming to the ulcer, providing proteins to repair the surface of the eye. Sometimes these arteries will even leak blood in to the eye, causing hyphema.


Uveitis is the medical term for inflammation from the within the eye. This inflammation can lead to hyphema in your dog's eye.

Other Medical Causes

There are other diseases for example ingesting rat poison or retinal detachment that can cause your dog to have hyphema. Items like clotting disorder and even some dogs possess a genetic eye ailment that can result in hyphema.

If you are noticing anything wrong with your dog's eye, it is advisable to schedule a scheduled appointment together with your vet as soon as you are able to. Eye issues should always start treatment as soon as possible in order to save your canine's eyesight if it’s in danger.

How is hyphema in dogs treated?

The management of hyphema is extremely different based on what is causing the blood in your dog's eye. They are probably the most common reasons and their treatment.

Traumatic Event

Many times, dogs who have had a traumatic event to their eye, giving them time and anti-inflammatory medication will assist them improve. When the damage is really severe the that globe from the eye has ruptured beyond repair or cannot be fixed surgically; your pet may have to have their eye removed.


If your dog has hyphema due to an ulcer on their eye, your vet will prescribe topical antibiotics and pain medication. This might consist of atropine or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Your dog should NEVER use steroids within their eye if they have an ulcer in their eye.


Uveitis is treated with topical steroids, NSAIDs, or atropine. These are all drops that you will put into your canine's eye to assist reduce the inflammation and pain. Some dogs is going to be prescribed oral medication also to assist with the pain sensation and inflammation.


If your pet has glaucoma, topical medication will be prescribed to assist decrease the intraocular pressures in your dog's eye. Sometimes your pet will have to be on multiple different drops or even has surgery to assist decrease the pressure. The treatment for glaucoma is prolonged and usually can't be reversed with medication alone.

Common surgical choices for glaucoma are laser cyclophotocoagulation, shunts within the anterior chamber of the eye, or ciliary body ablation. If your dog's pressure cannot be regulated with medications or surgery, your vet may recommend removing the attention as glaucoma can be a very painful disease.

When starting strategy to your dog's hyphema, it is best to follow your vet's advice and recommendations. Try to stick to an agenda using their eye drops and check out to not miss a dosage. In the first few days, it is very important to not miss a dosage to assist your dog be fully cured.

Most vets will recommend a follow-up visit a few days or weeks later to make certain that your canine's eye is improving. Most eyes take a long time to obtain better but could quickly get worse.

Recovery from Hyphema

Depending on the cause of hyphema is determined by how long it will take for your dog to recover or if they will be able to recover. Some dogs will quickly have the ability to recover while many have permanent damage or long-lasting eye problems that you must medicate for a long time. A few of these issues are even lifelong.

Usually, with early and aggressive treatment, most dogs can make a full recovery or at least save their vision and eye. A veterinarian will be able to provide you with the best prognosis for your dog’s specific cause of hyphema.

When to See a Veterinary Ophthalmologist for Hyphema in Dogs

Many general practice veterinarians can treat many simple eye issues. However, when a condition is much more complex and requires specialized treatment, you may be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist. These veterinarians have had many extra years of learning treating complex eye issues and eye surgeries. They would have the ability to treat a detached retina or other complex eye issues.

Working together with your veterinarian and also the veterinary ophthalmologist can help your dog quickly return to normal and save their eye and sight.

Hyphema in dogs look very stressful, and there are actually several causes of hyphema that aren't an ideal diagnosis. If you see any redness or inflammation inside your dog's eye, it is best to call at your vet immediately. Eye issues could possibly get really bad quickly, making you have to make some hard decisions regarding your pet's health or them even losing sight or their eye.

Working with your vet around the best treatment and staying consistent on giving your dog eye drops and other medications might help your pet quickly go back to their normal life with their eye health intact.