Swollen Eyelid in Dogs

Swollen eyelid in dogs can stem from various different causes. Sometimes a swollen eyelid can be caused by a congenital defect common to particular dog breeds, while other times it can be related to either a viral or bacterial infection of the eyes. However, any time that a dog owner notices that their dog’s eyelids have become swollen, it is a sign that something is amiss and that the dog will need medical evaluation. Here are some of the most common causes of swollen eyelids in dogs.

Entropion in Dogs

While entropion can be developed later in life, it is typically considered a congenital, inherited condition among certain dog breeds. It occurs most commonly in purebreds including the English Bulldog, Chow Chow, St. Bernard, Great Dane and Golden Retriever.

Entropion occurs when a dog’s eyelid rolls inward, causing irritation when the eyelashes make contact with the eye. The only true corrective method for entropion is surgery. However, some dogs may be eligible to undergo what is known as eye tacking. Eye tacking is a procedure in which the eyelids are sutured back into a more normal position, enabling better vision and reducing irritation.

Signs of entropion include:

  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Tearing or watering of the eyes
  • Impaired vision
  • Redness

Ectropion in Dogs

Ectropion in dogs is the exact opposite of entropion in that the eyelids turn outwards, exposing the palpebral conjunctiva and causing pain and visual defects. Ectropion is also typically considered congenital in the English Bulldog, St. Bernard, Mastiff and Bassett Hound. Although surgery is one consideration, ectropion can be treated successfully with the use of regular eye drops to lubricate the eye and reduce irritation.

Signs and symptoms of entropion and ectropion include:

  • Swollen eyelids
  • Excessive tearing
  • Visual changes or decreased vision
  • Redness around the eye

Conjunctivitis and Dog Swollen Eyelids

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is one of the most common causes of swollen eyelids in dogs. Conjunctivitis occurs when the conjunctiva, the lining of eyelids, becomes inflamed. The purpose of the conjunctiva in dogs is to trap debris and protect the inner structures of the eye from infection or foreign materials. In general, conjunctivitis occurs when there is either a viral or bacterial infection affecting the eye. Since the conjunctiva is the first line of defense against invading infections, it becomes swollen as it attempts to absorb the infection and protect the structures of the eye. Although, environmental irritants like sand, dirt and grass can also cause inflammation of the conjunctiva and swelling of the eyelids.

Treatment of conjunctivitis generally includes removing any foreign debris from the eye which may have caused the inflammation. If none exists, the condition will likely be treated as a bacterial infection, and both otic antibiotics and antibacterial eye ointment will be administered.

Signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Redness of the eyes, typically more pink in appearance
  • Mucus or pus-like discharge from the eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Pawing and scratching at the eyes