We love our pets, often times in a way that other people may not quite understand. When something is wrong with them, we want answers, and quick. Our Frenchie, Claude, developed bloodshot and red eyes last week. It was really worrying, so I took him to vet. Here’s what I found out and an answer to why your French Bulldog might have red eyes.
French bulldogs can have red and bloodshot eyes due to a condition called Cherry eye. All dogs have a third eyelid which is a clear membrane that cleans the eye and distributes tears. Cherry eye occurs when this eyelid becomes injured or infected. This results in dry, bloodshot, and red eyes.
It might not be cherry eye with your Frenchie; it could also be dry eye syndrome, corneal ulcers, allergy. Claude had the cherry eye problem, so will talk more about that first.
What causes cherry eye in French bulldogs?
Cherry eye is not a life-threatening condition (read more about it), but it can be a serious and chronic condition. While my vet couldn’t give me any reason as to why French bulldogs are so susceptible to the problem, he did know what it was and how it could be treated.
How to spot cherry eye in a Frenchie
Cherry eye is easy enough to spot, with the first sign being your dog showing noticeable signs of discomfort around his eyes.
With Claude, we noticed him pawing at his eye, and trying to scratch it which undoubtedly make it more bloodshot and even worse. His eye was noticeably dry, and he himself looked very irritated.
The vet told me that sometimes, the third eyelid will also be visibly inflamed, and very red in appearance.
These are the most obvious signs that your French bulldog is experiencing eye discomfort.
Other symptoms of cherry eye include a significant increase in tears, the eye will water, swell and your dog could suffer with impaired vision.
Your dog may exhibit only a few, or all of these symptoms. If your dog exhibits any of these problems, please do what we did book an appointment for him to see his vet as soon as possible.
Cherry eye can quickly become extremely painful for your dog and treatment options are best discussed with a professional.
How to treat red eyes in a French bulldog
There are a few ways to treat cherry eye; it can be corrected surgically and non-surgically.
Thankfully Claude’s ailment was not serious, and we caught it early enough.
The most successful non-surgical treatment consists of simple eye massage techniques that can be taught to you by your vet. This is what we did.
It worked using a combination of some eye drops, a warm damp cloth, and massaging his eye using a technique our vet showed us. He was a lot better after a few weeks.
By implementing these massages into your Frenchie’s routine, you might be able to manage all but the most severe cases of cherry eye.
This method is not a cure however, while it can prevent symptoms and recurring discomfort, your French bulldog’s condition will still need to be monitored by the vet.
We will be going back to see ours in a month to see how Claude is getting on.
The most successful surgical treatment is a called an attachment procedure. It involves anchoring the fleshy part of the membrane to more sturdy tissue in the lower corner of the eye socket, preventing cherry eye from returning.
This surgery can be a life time solution, and your Frenchie is unlikely to experience cherry eye again. Finger’s crossed we won’t have to do this with Claude, but it’s comforting to know there is a solution should we need it.
What else could be causing red eyes in your Frenchie?
Red eyes in French bulldogs are not always due to cherry eye, as this breed is prone to a range of different bloodshot eye problems.
Some of these problems are caused by environmental factors, such as dust. These are far easier to treat, while others require a trip to the veterinarian.
The plus side is, once you know what’s wrong, treating the problem becomes a lot easier. Here’s a run-down of what else could cause a red or bloodshot eye in your Frenchie.
1. Dry eye
Dry eye means your Frenchie is not producing enough tears to keep his eyes moist.
This condition can have many underlying causes, from allergies and illnesses to inherited problems and environment.
Dry eye causes the cornea of the eye and surrounding tissue to become inflamed, resulting in your Frenchie’s eyes appearing red, or bloodshot.
The eyes will begin producing a thick, cloudy yellow to green discharge and your dog will exhibit behavior like squinting or blinking a lot.
Dry eye is not serious, but it can be painful for your Frenchie.
Typical treatments include, ointment, antibiotics, or eye drops.
If it is due to an infection, or illness your vet will most likely prescribe your Frenchie an antibiotic, which will clear up the infection and get rid of his red eyes.
For allergies, environmental factors, or inherited eye problems your Frenchie will probably need to be given eye drops daily to prevent symptoms from reoccurring.
2. Corneal ulcers
Corneal ulcers are one of the more serious eye conditions your Frenchie can get. It can be caused by trauma to the eye, untreated dry eye, chemical burns from shampoo and grooming products, or any foreign substance your Frenchie gets in his eyes.
Corneal ulcers cause significant pain and can lead to blindness.
Corneal ulcers treatment is usually given in the form of an antibiotic, plus some dog pain medication.
If you believe your Frenchie might have a corneal ulcer it is best to get him to a vet as soon as possible. If the ulcer is severe it may require surgical intervention to correct and prevent blindness from occurring.
Frenchies will also exhibit sore and red eyes when they have a fever. The simplest way to check for a fever will be to take your French Bulldog’s temperature. Find out more about how to do that, and what signs of fever to look out for here.
Preventing red eye problems in French bulldogs
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
There are there are a few things you can do to help protect your Frenchie’s eyes from becoming red and bloodshot, or permanently damaged.
Whilst French bulldogs are more likely to develop eye problems than other breeds, most of these problems aren’t congenital and can easily be avoided.
Here are a few things you can do to help keep your Frenchie’s eyes healthy.
Take care when bathing and grooming him
When bathing, or grooming your Frenchie pay extra attention while working near his head. Frenchies naturally have sensitive eyes and the chemicals in shampoos and other grooming products can cause irritation, inflammation, infections and even more serious conditions like corneal ulcers.
If you take your Frenchie to a dog groomer, be sure to express these concerns to them. Not all groomers are as cautious as they should be, and don’t always know how sensitive a Frenchie’s eyes can be.
Clean your Frenchie’s tear stains
By simply cleaning your Frenchie’s tear stains you can help to prevent infection and eye problems.
Tear stains are not only unsightly, they can harbor bacteria.
Bacteria can find its way into your Frenchie’s eyes through normal activities such as grooming, or just being his excitable self and playing, leading to eye infections.
Clean your Frenchie’s tear stains weekly, using a sterile eye wash, or eye wash pads.
Handy Hint: Click here to read a comprehensive guide on how to clean French Bulldog tear stains, plus how you can reduce them from happening in the first place.
Pet specific brands can be found at pet stores, or online, but it isn’t actually that necessary to use a pet specific brand. You can use a sterile eyewash product from your local drugstore but be sure to avoid products that contain added chemical ingredients.
The eye wash you use for your Frenchie should be a sterile saline solution only – visit my Frenchie Gear page to see what saline solution we recommend and used with Claude.
Why does your French bulldog have red eyes?
Well, it could be down to a number of reasons as discussed above, and for us it was the dreaded cherry eye – but thankfully Claude appears to have made a complete recovery.
If your Frenchie does develop bloodshot or red eyes please do get in touch with your vet, as it could be the sign of a longer-term health issue that will need resolving with professional help.
Need more advice on health? Whilst I always advise you get advice from a vet, there are certain health problems French Bulldog owners should be aware of and know how to spot. You can see what they all are in this guide to Frenchie health problems and symptoms.