A black and brown dog with visible hyphema symptoms around its left eye.

Hyphema in Dogs

Hyphema is the presence of blood within the front (anterior) chamber of the dog’s eye and is a symptom of either serious ophthalmic or systemic disease. The amount of blood within the front chamber can vary. Mild hyphema may appear only as a pinkish-red discoloration to the fluid in the front of the eye, or as red blood settled out on the bottom of the chamber. Severe hyphema is when the entire chamber is filled with blood and the animal is rendered blind.

Hyphema usually originates from bleeding of the iris blood vessels, but the blood may also originate from the ciliary body (tissue behind the iris), choroidal blood vessels (tissue layer beneath the retina), or retinal blood vessels.

Causes of Hyphema in Dogs

Some common causes of hyphema include:

Traumatic and congenital causes are more common in young dogs, while hypertension and most tumors are more common in older dogs. The other causes may occur at any age. In some animals the cause is never determined.

Signs of Hyphema in Dogs

Think your dog might have hyphema? Watch out for the following warning signs:

Diagnosis of Hyphema in Dogs

Diagnostic tests may include one or more of the following in your dog:

Treatment of Hyphema in Dogs

Treatment of the eye is often initiated while a diagnostic work-up is underway and may include:

Home Care for Dogs with Hyphema

Restrict your dog’s activity and reduce the risk of further bleeding by confining your dog to a small room or crate until the cause of the hyphema is determined and the treatment is well underway.

Because vision is impaired in some cases, do not allow your dog to go outdoors unattended or unsupervised. Do not administer human over-the-counter medications, such as Visine® or other ophthalmic products designed to reduce eye redness or irritation, because these products are ineffective for hyphema.

Do not delay in bringing your dog to your veterinarian, because some causes of hyphema are not only vision threatening, but may also be also life-threatening.