Why Are My French Bulldog’s Eyes Red?


Owning a dog can be a stressful experience when they are unwell. It’s crucial to realize when there is a problem and what that problem is as quickly as possible when caring for a French Bulldog. When should you be concerned and when do you need to take them to a vet. With certain issues, can you treat your dog at home? This article is aimed at people who own French Bulldogs and have noticed a problem with their eyes.

Why are my French Bulldog’s eyes red? There are several causes of red or bloodshot eyes in French Bulldogs, with cherry eye being a common one. Cherry eye is caused by an injury or infection to the clear membrane of the eye (known as the third eyelid) which results in a red, bloodshot appearance.

Red eyes in French bulldogs are not always a symptom of cherry eye. Bloodshot eyes can result from other eye conditions such as entropion, dry eye, and ectopic cilia. Some issues are caused by eye infections and allergies, which are easier to treat. To be safe, visit your vet for a professional diagnosis.

Most Likely Causes of Red or Bloodshot Eyes in a French Bulldog

Cherry Eye

This is the most common type of eye problem your Bully will have. Actually more frequently seen in younger dogs, this is recognizable by some rather scary looking flesh-colored tissue which protrudes from an inside corner of your dog’s eye (or potentially both of them). It is actually caused by a membrane which can be found in the corner of your dog’s eye which has become disconnected, or it could be that the material that connects this membrane has become weak. So, how do you know if your Frenchie has cherry eye? Look for the below symptoms:

  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Either too much tear production or not enough. It might sound contradictory but it’ll be obvious to you if either is occurring if you know your doggie well.
  • Obvious problems with her sight.
  • Obvious signs of irritation, such as trying to paw the problem-area, causing further problems.
  • More blinking/squinting than is usual.
  • Swelling around the eyes.
  • Depression – you’ll know your Frenchie, if they are acting differently and not as noticeably happy as usual then this, combined with the above is a sign of distress and anxiety.

How serious is cherry eye and what should you do?

Fortunately, cherry eye doesn’t cause a French Bulldog long-term problems and it’s certainly not lethal. However, that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. cherry eye won’t fix itself but it can cause some pretty nasty discomfort for her. She will instinctively try and claw at the area, naturally thinking that something needs to be got out. However, this can lead to more serious problems, such as corneal ulcers. 

So, as you can perhaps gather from the above, you need to get it sorted as quickly as possible to prevent further problems and to make her feel better! Get her to your vet. Don’t be tempted to try and treat this yourself at home. There are a few things your vet can (and might) recommend at this point:

  • Removal of the gland surgically.
  • Suture the gland back into position.
  • Antibiotics (which will most likely be prescribed with the above also) as well as massage techniques. 

There are positives and negatives with all three of these options, for instance, if you have the gland removed totally but this can cause other problems related to the removal. This is because the gland that was removed takes care of your Bulldog’s tear production and they could then develop dry eye, which is actually a more serious condition.

In summary, there are two things you need to do with cherry eye:

  1. Identify that your dog has this condition.
  2. Visit your vet.

As with any medical condition, the sooner the better.

Entropion

This is when an eyelid (well, actually the edges of the eyelid) rolls inwards and is actually quite common, not only to the French Bulldog but to many that have these adorable wrinkled facial folds. The discomfort comes due to the associated eyelashes making contact with the cornea, which can create an ulcer. In the more severe cases, the damage caused to the cornea due to this problem can, unfortunately, lead to vision impairment or total blindness.

We’ve all had times where an eyelash gets into our eye and it just won’t come out. Tears start falling, you wash it, you rub it and eventually, it just comes out – the relief! Now imagine the same happening but you’re unable to do anything about it, how horrible must that feel?

Entropion is usually something that happens to her typically at a young age but can happen at any point in her life. It can come in many different levels of severity and is usually dependent on how many wrinkles are covering your Frenchie’s face. 

But what are the symptoms of this, apart from the obvious signs of discomfort from her?

  • Teary eyes, which may be red or bloodshot (this could be a sign of an ulcer.)
  • Squinting.
  • Signs of anxiety or depression.

To resolve this condition, your vet will need to perform a surgical procedure which will remove a bit of the skin from underneath the eyelid.

What should you do about Entropion?

If you notice red tears, which may be a sign an ulcer is developing, then this should be regarded as an emergency and you should contact your vet straight away. If your dog is young, there is a chance that the procedure will be delayed by your vet. It’s a case of weighing up the risks really. Your vet will want to avoid the risks associated with anesthesia in younger puppies. If this is the case, they may choose to put a temporary suture in place until a later point.

As far as preventative actions, keeping her face nice and clean (and dry) by using pet wipes. If you’re not sure what to go for, have a look at these (click the link to read reviews on Amazon). As this is not something you will be able to fix at home, a visit to your vet will need to be arranged as soon as possible to ensure your Frenchie gets treated in a timely fashion.

One last point, if you notice this then you should place a collar (of the Elizabethan/Buster variety) on their head straight away (or as soon as possible). This is to prevent pawing which in-turn can cause a lot more damage.

“Dry Eye”

This condition occurs when your French Bulldog’s eyes are not generating enough tears to keep its eyes moist. This condition should not be ignored as it can cause other problems such as:

  • Scarring
  • Impaired Vision
  • Inflammation of the corneal
  • Ulcers

Note that this condition can occur after the resolution of another eye problem. For instance, if a dog has had cherry eye, the gland may that produces tears may have been replaced. It may also be the result of an eye infection or an allergy. It is actually quite common with Frenchies (and other types of bulldog) and will typically be seen more often in an adult rather than a puppy.

What should you do about dry eye?

Consult your vet, of course, they will most likely clean her eyes up and use some medication alongside this as well as providing you with instruction as to how to continue with this maintenance at home. It may well be that this turns out to be a daily ritual for the rest of your dog’s life but it’s a ritual worth performing of course if it keeps her happy and free from other problems associated with it.

Your vet may also check for an ulcer by using a fluorescein staining of her cornea, which can then be examined under ultraviolet light. Next, they may also perform something called Schirmer’s Test, which is a procedure that’s used to determine whether enough tears are being produced to keep the eye moist.

One last thing about this. I often see dogs with their head outside of the car window. They love this and it’s also amusing for children but it should not be encouraged. If you must do this then please use some goggles over the Bully’s eyes to protect them. These are readily available, for instance on Amazon.

Ectopic Cilia (Eyelash Problems)

This is a problem related to eyelashes that grow from the middle eyelid typically and rub against the cornea. This rubbing action can actually cause excruciating pain for the dog (imagine a hair being stuck in your eye and not being able to do anything about it) and needs to be addressed quickly. This is a condition that can occur in many dog breeds, not just the French Bulldog and commonly is spotted when they’re younger, rather than when they’ve matured. How can you spot that your dog has this? Any or all of these symptoms may be apparent:

  • Obvious eye discomfort.
  • You notice the dog trying to paw at the problematic eye.
  • A change in personality/behavior, signs of stress.
  • She keeps the eye closed.
  • You notice she’s blinking way more than usual.
  • Redness in the eye.

It should be pretty obvious that there’s a problem. 

What should you do about these Eyelash problems?

Contact your vet. If your dog has this condition then it will be in a lot of discomfort. Call the vet, describe the condition and try and get an appointment urgently. If there is redness in the eye, ensure you tell the vet this information as it may be classed as an emergency.

As soon as you notice this, an Elizabethan collar should be applied. If you don’t have one of these in the house, best to have one lying around as you want to stop her from trying to paw at the eye as early as possible – you can’t always be around.

The problem is typically resolved with surgery and depending on the severity the eyelashes will most likely be removed with its gland. Note that this is a similar condition to others, such as Distichiasis, Distichiae, and Trichiasis. 

Thoughts…

With eye conditions, it’s difficult for owners to diagnose the type of problem a Frenchie has as a lot of the time the symptoms are similar (or can be identical). The advice is to always call your vet, describe the symptoms and take their advice. If you’re really worried, particularly, about the risk of an ulcer, you should consider it an emergency.

However, remember that although eye problems can be common in French Bulldogs, vets are very familiar with resolving them and will know exactly how to treat them. Your job is to recognize the symptoms as a problem and do something about it.

One final thing, if you’d like to know some simple ways you can potentially extend the life of your little French Bulldog, then check out the article here (opens in a new tab).

Matt

I'm Matt Pettitt, joint founder of the Pets Knowledge Base alongside my wife, Jane. Since I was just 2 years of age I've had pets in my life - which I don't mind admitting is 47 years! I strongly believe that when you introduce a pet into your family you should do everything you can to give it the best life possible. I've learned a lot during the past (almost) five decades and this blog gives me a medium to share everything I have learned ( both good and bad) about pets. If you'd like to know more about us, and how to contact us - take a look at our About page here!

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