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Cocker Spaniel Red Eyes: 7 Reasons & What To Do

Have you ever looked down at your adorable Cocker Spaniel, only to notice that their eye appears more red than usual?

Their once beautiful eyes now look painful and irritated, causing you to wonder what could possibly be causing this. 

We want to help you get to the bottom of your Cocker Spaniel’s irritated eye, so let’s discuss each of the possible causes in detail below! 

Are Red Eyes Normal In Cocker Spaniels?

Before we get started, we should first answer the question of whether or not red eyes are normal in Cocker Spaniels. We can wake up with an irritated eye sometimes, so the same can go for our Cockers, right? 

While yes, dogs can develop an irritated eye that will go away on its own, there is typically an underlying cause that should be addressed.

Dogs are also known to paw at their eyes if they are ever irritated, and this can open the door to eye injuries since they do not know to be careful.

  • So while a red eye may not always be a big deal in Cocker Spaniels, it should still be investigated and treated if necessary. 

7 Causes of Red Eyes In Cocker Spaniels

There are a variety of underlying factors that could be behind your Cocker Spaniel’s red eyes, so let’s break down each potential cause below. Ranging from eye allergies to chronic conditions, let’s dive in!

There are 7 main reasons why your cocker spaniel may have developed red eyes:


Conjunctivitis is a condition that refers to irritation of the conjunctiva, which is the transparent layer of tissue that covers the outer portion of the eye.

Conjunctivitis is a diagnosis in itself, but it always has an underlying cause. For example, many dogs will develop conjunctivitis due to allergies.

Conjunctivitis can lead to red eyes, pawing at the eyes, watery eyes, light sensitivity, and eye discharge. 

Eye Allergies

Just as you and I can develop allergies to the world around us, our Cocker Spaniel friends can as well. Dogs can develop allergies to pollen, dust, fragrances, grass, and virtually anything they come in contact with.

If they are sensitive to any allergens, they can experience red and watery eyes, itchy skin, skin redness, fur loss, and even GI upset. 

Eye Injuries

Our Cocker Spaniel pups can fall victim to eye injuries in various ways. They can scratch their eyes with plant material, get into scuffles with other housemates, and even scratch themselves accidentally with their own nails.

Dogs can develop irritation and small abrasions on their eye as a result, with some injuries even turning into corneal ulcers. A Cocker Spaniel with an eye injury may have a red eye, watery eye, pawing at the eye, rubbing their face on the ground, and even some eye discharge. 

Eye Foreign Bodies

Have you ever had something stuck in your eye? If so, you know just how irritating it can be. Cocker Spaniels can get everything from plant material to pieces of sticks stuck in their eyes, leading to significant discomfort for the pup affected.

If a dog has an eye foreign body they may experience eye redness, watering eyes, pawing at the fact, rubbing their face on the ground, eye discharge, swelling, and even some bleeding.

Cherry Eye

If you suddenly notice a small red lump coming from the inner corner of your dog’s eye, it is very possible that they are experiencing cherry eye.

Cherry eye is when the dog’s third eyelid becomes inflamed and peeks out from behind the eyelid, leading to the red lump you will eventually see.

This will often lead to significant irritation and dryness of the eye, so we suggest having them seen by your vet from the moment it develops. There are a few different surgical approaches your vet can take, and they will discuss each option in detail with you. 

Dry Eye

Dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition that can cause significant eye irritation in Cocker Spaniels. A dog with dry eyes cannot produce an adequate amount of tears to hydrate the eye, which in turn leads to severe eye irritation and injuries.

These pups often experience significant eye redness, eye discharge, eye infections, pawing at the eyes, and the formation of ulcers on the eye. Dry eyes need to be treated quickly to prevent secondary infections, so we suggest having them seen by your vet if they are experiencing the symptoms we just mentioned. 


Entropion is an eye condition that is unfortunately quite common in Cocker Spaniels.

This condition involves the eyelids turning inward into the eye, causing the eye lashes to rub against the eye and cause irritation.

These dogs will often have red and irritated eyes because of it, and many will also develop secondary eye infections. 

Signs Of Eye Irritation In Cocker Spaniels

Though we’ve listed the common symptoms of the conditions we discussed above, we want to make sure you can spot any form of eye irritation in your Cocker Spaniel friend. Let’s list some of the many signs of eye irritation that you can be on the lookout for!

Common signs of eye irritation in Cocker Spaniels includes:

  • Squinting of the eye
  • Eye redness
  • Watery eyes
  • Swollen tissues around the eye
  • Keeping their eyes closed, or appearing sensitive to light
  • Changes in their eye appearance
  • Swelling around the eye
  • Eye discharge
  • A red mass within the eye
  • Pawing at their eyes
  • Rubbing their eyes and face on the ground

If you think your dog is experiencing any of the signs of eye irritation, we suggest having them seen by your vet for further care. 

Should I Take My Cocker Spaniel To The Vet For Red Eyes?

We always suggest taking your Cocker Spaniel to the vet if they have had eye redness for more than 24 hours, if they are pawing at the eyes, or showing any other signs of discomfort.

There are so many potential causes of their eye irritation, so taking the wait and see approach can result in serious eye damage.

When it comes to something as important as vision, you never want to take any chances. 

Once you get your Cocker Spaniel to the vet, your vet will do a thorough eye exam that can help them get to the bottom of their eye redness.

There are also a series of diagnostics they can perform in their clinic that search for eye injuries, so we suggest following their guidance on any tests they suggest.

  • The sooner you get your pup to the vet to address their eye irritation, the swifter their recovery will be!

Final Thoughts On Red Eyes In Cocker Spaniels

Eye redness in Cocker Spaniels can be due to anything from mild allergies to a chronic eye condition. Due to how varying these factors can be, we always suggest having them seen by your vet if their eye redness lasts for more than 24 hours. 


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.