If you’ve owned (or currently own) any breed of Bulldog, you might already be aware that they can be susceptible to eye problems. In this post we’re going to look at what might be causing red eyes in your French Bulldog. We’re also going to suggest things you can do about it.
First up, let’s talk about why red eyes in French Bulldogs are more common than in other, non bulldog breeds.
Red eyes in French Bulldog? Why?
So why are Bulldog breeds more prone to eye problems? Well, there are several factors at play here. Maybe the most obvious one relates to the excess skin folds on their faces. On our other post French Bulldog skin issues we discuss the importance of keeping your Frenchie’s face clean. Some Frenchie’s have more folds than others but regardless, skin folds are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Warm, moist and often dirty folds can result in infections and skin disorders. As humans our eyes are very sensitive to dirt irritants, dogs are no different. If you follow a strict regime of cleaning your French Bulldog’s face you stand a much better chance of preventing eye infections and problems in the first place.
We’d suggest a weekly routine using cotton wool soaked in cool water to wipe between the folds. Follow this up with a swab of dry cotton wool to remove any moisture. Once a week is probably the minimum you’d want to go for although it depends on your dog and their face. Our dog Kikka only really needs it a couple of times a month but Stella needs it more frequently so we tend to do them both at the same time.
In French Bulldogs (and most other Bulldog breeds) the skin around the eyes often isn’t as ‘tight’ as it is in other dogs. This sagging effect on the skin means that parts of the eyelid can be prone to prolapsing. One of the conditions that often comes about due to this is commonly known as ‘Cherry eye.’ We’ll discuss this in detail later in the post.
Skull shape and form
This might be more obvious in breeds such as Pugs where the eyes often protrude very prominently. Sadly, this excessive pressure on the eyes can mean that they stick out a little which exposes them and leaves them vulnerable to the elements. Add in to the mix that there’s not so much snout to offer protection like you might have on a Lab, Collie, Pointer etc.
Red eyes in French Bulldog conditions.
Now let’s have a look at some of the various conditions which might be giving your Frenchie red eyes. This list is by no means exhaustive and contains only a handful of possibilities.
Earlier in this post we touched briefly on the subject of Cherry eye. This is possibly the most commonly known eye condition in Bulldogs and is basically the prolapsing of the whole or part of your dog’s third eyelid. Due to the saggy skin around the eyes of Bulldog breeds cherry eye is not uncommon. It’s not all that difficult to spot and the name kind of gives a clue to what it looks like. You’ll see a pink, prolapsed lump sticking out from your dog’s eye and although it looks painful, it’s often not as bad as it looks.
Sometimes your vet will advise corrective surgery but it isn’t considered to be a big job and rarely comes with any complications. If left untreated the exposed skin can become prone to infection. In some cases your vet may be able to massage the skin until the protruding eyelid pops back in and then administer drops.
Red eyes in French Bulldog. Conjunctivitis.
Although this one may look to be very serious and painful, it’s relatively easy to treat and doesn’t require surgery. It is important to address this quickly as it can easily spread from one eye to the other. It can also lead to more permanent and serious eye damage if left untreated. We have first had experience on this one with our wee pooch Stella as you can see in the photos below.
Although it can be difficult to diagnose this yourself (a very obvious problem but could be one of many things) your vet should know quite quickly. Often they will test the eye for ulcers by squirting some fluorescent dye into the eye which then shows up any ulcer growth. Conjunctivitis can show up on one or both eyes. Your French Bulldog may be keeping their eye partially or fully closed and it can appear a little swollen. It’s not uncommon to see some discharge also. The condition usually comes with redness around the inner eye and eyelids and a little swelling.
Treatment most often comes in the form of drops and in our experience, you should start to see some improvements within 24hrs. When the treatment works the infection should clear up within 4-5 days. If you can’t get to the vet that day you can ease the discomfort a little by cleaning the area with a little cotton wool soaked in cold water. As you’re cleaning both eyes make sure you never use the same piece of cotton wool for both eyes. Conjunctivitis is contagious and can be easily spread. Always use a new piece of cotton wool for each eye.
Red eyes in French Bulldog. Allergies?
We have a section that talks briefly about French Bulldog allergies which you can read here. To keep it quite simple, French Bulldogs and humans are not so different when it comes to allergies. All the common things such as dust, pollen, molds and mites can irritate your dog’s eyes just as they can yours. Generally you don’t need over the counter treatments for these issues. Some gentle cleaning again with cotton wool and cool/cold water should help to remove irritants. Obviously, avoiding specific environments is advised. Is it the height of summer with a high pollen count that day? Could well be the problem. If there hasn’t been much in the way of changes to the dog’s external environment though, the cause could be something else.
Red eyes in French Bulldog. Ulcers?
There are several reasons as to why your French Bulldog might have an ulcer in their eye. Conjunctivitis, physical trauma (scratch, cut etc,) Keratoconjunctivitis (sometimes referred to as dry eye) and the list goes on. Although the ulcer itself won’t necessarily cause the eyes to look red, your dog’s reaction to the irritation might. A Corneal ulcer in your dog can be very serious and should definitely be looked at asap by a vet. It’s quite possible that you won’t be able to see the ulcer (at the early stages) with your own eyes. As previously mentioned your vet will use a type of fluorescent dye which they apply as a drop. This dye will then show up any area of the cornea which may have an ulcer.
A corneal ulcer isn’t really something you’d want to diagnose at home nor treat with any home remedy. It’s often a very painful condition for your dog so seek veterinary advice as soon as and follow advice for treatment. One of our Frenchie’s had what looked like an ulcer but turned out to be only scar tissue from a previous trauma so don’t be afraid to have it looked at. It could be harmless but always best to be safe.
Red eyes in French Bulldog. Entropion?
Entropion is something that can be found more often in Bulldog breeds due to their short snout faces. It’s not by any means exclusive to French Bulldogs but regardless of breed, it’s very uncomfortable. Entropion is basically when the eyelid sort of folds in on itself. This almost inversion of the eyelid results in the eyelashes scratching the eye and if left untreated it can lead to ulcers and ultimately blindness. If it has been caused by infection then simply treating the infection might be enough to cure the condition. In many cases though, it’s likely your dog might require corrective surgery.
Although this sounds quite serious, recovery rates from surgery are very high, especially if caught early. This condition can affect both upper and lower eyelids and can also affect both eyes.
Red eyes in French Bulldog. Dry eye?
Dry eye in your French Bulldog is a result of the tear glands not being able to produce enough fluid. As with many other eye condition, if left untreated it can lead to ulcers. If your dog is suffering from frequent eye infections, blinking more than usual and/or has redness around the eyes and any kind of discharge, they may be suffering from dry eye. There’s an in depth post on the PDSA website which you can find here. This page goes into more detail and explains the condition well.
Treatment from your vet would likely be in the form of drops and most often on a lifelong course.
If your dog if constantly rubbing or pawing at their eyes, there’s likely a good reason for it. Many of the conditions above share one common factor. That is, if caught early, treatment is usually simple and effective. Don’t hang about if you suspect your pooch has any of the above disorders. Regular hygiene and face cleaning will also greatly reduce your chances of running into many of these problems.