Can Dogs Get a Black Eye?

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In humans, a black eye is a hard injury to hide. Shiners often turn the whole eye socket a dark, purplish red color, and are accompanied by lots of swelling. But have you ever wondered if your dog could suffer the same plight? If you suspect that your pup has been hit or bitten in the eye, take extra care in keeping the area clean and handle your pooch gently, because face injuries can be painful!

Can Dogs Get a Black Eye?

YES!

The short answer is yes. Black eyes are essentially just bruises caused by impact to the nose or eye area. Once the blood vessels in the face rupture, blood begins to pool under the skin. This pooling is visible through the skin, causing darkened coloration. Because dogs can get bruises, just like all mammals, technically they can get black eyes. The main difference between a black eye on a dog and one on a human is our canine friends are covered in fur. Black eyes on dogs are less obvious because they are difficult to see.

Does My Dog Have a Black Eye?

If you think your dog may be suffering from a black eye, there are a few different things you can look for to confirm your suspicion. When dealing with any severe injury, it's always best to get a professional examination from a veterinarian.

Symptoms
A dog with a black eye will likely be showing signs that it is in pain, such as pulling back from being pet and pawing at the affected area. The eye itself may be red, and the surrounding tissue can swell to the point where the eye is no longer visible.

Causes
Any blunt trauma to the face can result in a black eye. This can be from something major like a car accident, or something minor like a collision with another dog. Bites to the face can also cause blood vessels around the eye to rupture.

Diagnosis
To confirm bruising around the eye, your vet will have to perform a physical examination. An ophthalmic exam will also likely be done to tell how much damage has occurred to the eye. If the injury is bad enough, your vet may also recommend a neurological assessment and X-rays to look for skull fractures.

 

For more detail on how to spot a black eye on your dog, check out: Eye Injuries in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Black Eye?

So you've confirmed that your dog does indeed have a shiner. Now what? There are some specific steps that both you and a veterinary professional can take to help decrease discomfort and speed up the healing process.

Treatment
For minor bruising, putting an E-collar on your dog can help stop the dog from making the injury worse. Your vet may prescribe special eye drops to lessen pain and prevent infection. For extreme swelling, some anti-inflammatory medication may be needed.

Recovery
You'll need to check the affected eye every day to see whether it is getting better or not. An eye that stays swollen and inflamed may be suffering from more serious injuries, or may have become infected. While these occurrences merit more trips to the vet, the vast majority of facial bruising will resolve on its own over the course of a few weeks.

 

To read experiences from other owners dealing with eye injuries in their dog, and to access a real veterinarian for answers to your dog health questions, visit Eye Injuries in Dogs.

How is a Black Eye in Dogs Similar to One in Humans?

No matter the mammal, black eyes come with some standard characteristics, such as:

  • Swelling

  • Hematoma (pooling blood) under the skin

  • Tender to the touch

  • Blurred or limited vision

How is a Black Eye in Dogs Different than One in Humans?

Because our furry friends look quite a bit different than we do, when they get a shiner it does not appear the same as on us. Some differences you may note are:

  • No obvious color changes because of fur

  • No skin darkening in dogs with naturally black skin

  • Dog may not exhibit obvious signs of pain due to a higher pain tolerance

Case Study

Bruises around the eye are not uncommon. One small Corgi had an altercation with a much larger dog over a bone, resulting in a bite to the face that did not puncture the skin. The eye turned red and began to tear up more than usual. In the days that followed, the dog was hesitant to let people touch his face, and he did blink more than normal, but he still had good energy and a desire to play. While most likely the dog would have recovered fine on its own, it was still suggested that a trip to the vet was a good idea to rule out further damage.