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Dog Eye Stye: Causes, Symptoms, Q&A (Don’t squeeze them!)

Dog Eye Stye: Causes, Symptoms, Q&A (Don’t squeeze them!)

Sties are a fairly common occurrence in humans. These pimple-like lumps that develop on our eyelids aren’t dangerous, but they are very painful and irritating. But, we humans don’t get them that much. Our furry friends are more affected by these red, painful lumps. They are more likely to get dog eye stye.

An eye stye forms on the dog’s eyes and eyelid and it’s an eye infection that shows up as a red, painful bump. It kind of looks like a pimple on your dog’s eyelid. Now, when we see a stye in our dog’s eyes we might think that it’s okay to treat this problem at home. Without visiting the vet. In fact, many pet owners begin by treating the stye like a pimple and squeezing it out.

This is a terrible idea! Every vet will tell you not to do it! That’s because squeezing the stye can be dangerous for the dog and its eyesight.

That’s why it’s important to know more about the causes of this condition and what the medical treatment is.

Dog eye stye – What is it?

The stye dog eye is one of the most common eye diseases in dogs. They are painful, grow quickly and, if left untreated, can lead to blindness. But despite that, not many people how dogs get a stye and what the right way to treat it even is.

A stye also known as hordeolum is a small, swollen, painful lump on the inside or outside of the eyelid or around the eye. The skin around the stye is usually red and swollen while the stye itself is filled with pus. In most cases, they are caused by inflammations and bacterial infections. Dogs love to explore everything and get into places they shouldn’t. They roll around in mud, dirt and maybe even sometimes dive into some dirty pond. So, all that dirt, oil and other debris such as dead skin can clog hair follicles very close to your dog’s eyelid. This then causes swelling and irritation.

dog eye stye
A dog stye is not contagious like a human stye

You should also know that a stye usually affects only one eye, but it’s possible to have them on both eyes and on either inside or outside of the dog eyelids.

We know that humans can get a stye too. But, the most important difference between a human stye and a dog stye is that a dog eye stye is not contagious! Neither pets nor humans can get a stye from a dog who has one. But, human eye styes are very contagious.

What are the causes of this condition?

A stye is an eye infection that creates a protruding spot filled with pus on, inside, or near the eyelid.

A stye is typically caused by a Staphylococcus. Dogs get infected due to a compromised immune system, overgrowth of bacteria, or any kind of eye injury.

Other common causes include:

Viruses (herpes, hepatitis, influenza)
Other types of bacteria
Direct contact with irritants to the eye

These eyelid growths can appear on either the inner or outer part of the eyelid. Also, both the upper and lower eyelids can be affected.

The rim of your dog’s eyelids has some specific glands that secrete an oily substance which job it is to keep your dog’s eyes moist.

In some cases these glands become inflamed and swollen, leaving this oily substance to build up and create a painful growth on the affected area. These styes often look like pimples on your dog’s incision eyelid.

Styes are also known as hordeolums. So if you hear your vet talking about it, it’s likely that he’ll use this term rather than stye.

How to know your dog has a stye

Spotting a stye is not hard. It always forms on your dog’s eye and the first symptom you’ll notice is red swelling around the eye. That’s a tell-tale sign your dog has an eye stye.

Your dog can also experience the following symptoms when they have a stye:

  • Eye redness
  • Inflammation of inner or outer part of the eyelid
  • Eye swelling
  • Broken abscess and pus

But, we also want to say that you shouldn’t be the one diagnosing your dog. If you notice anything unusual about your dog and its health, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

When you see a red swelling around your dog’s eye, you might think they have a stye. But, tumors and other serious illnesses also start with such swellings. That’s why it’s important to take your dog to a vet and explain to him what the issue is.

Only a vet will know exactly what is going on with your dog and which tests need to be done. Your vet will know which tests to do to really make sure your dog only has a stye and will suggest the right treatment.

Your veterinarian might do a bacterial culture and will perform an ophthalmic exam.

The right diagnosis is not the only reason why you should take your dog to the vet if you think they have an eye stye. Your dog is in a lot of pain, and your duty as an owner is to make sure they aren’t suffering. Even if you think that a sty isn’t a big health concern, you should still make sure your dog gets help right away.

Not the same as a chalazion

While we’re talking about a stye, we also need to say that a chalazion and a sty aren’t the same. Even though many people believe it is. A chalazion occurs when the meibomian glands of your dog are clogged.

Meibomian glands are the tiny oil glands that line the margin of the eyelids. You probably guessed it, an oil gland secretes oil that coats your dog’s eye and keeps them from drying out.

Now, the opening of the meibomian gland sometimes gets clogged. If that happens the oil builds up in the gland and causes inflammation, and the swelling in the gland is called a chalazion. Treatment of a chalazion in dogs includes oral and topical antibiotics if your vet determines there is an infection.

Also, a chalazion forms on the inner surface of the eyelid and presses up against the eyeball. Your dog’s eye might only look swollen and you probably won’t even see anything else from the outside. But this condition can cause a lump. which continues to grow. This might sound scary, but it’s usually not painful for the dog.

How to treat it?

Most of the time the stye will last for a few days, although some can last for a week or even longer. While the stye is not a serious condition, it’s still very painful and irritating to your dog. So, you should take your dog to the vet to inspect the dog’s eye and prescribe something to soothe his pain.

Your vet might not be able to treat your dog’s stye right away. In some cases, he might suggest that you put warm cloths on the dog’s eyes three times a day. These compresses help that the stye develops faster and that your vet can treat it right.

The most common eye conditions in dogs and how to treat them

Now, if your vet isn’t able to take care of your dog’s stye right away, you shouldn’t take the matters into your own hands either. We’ve already said in the beginning that you should never pop your dog’s stye, unless you’re a vet yourself.

One reason for this is that many dogs become aggressive when they are in pain. So, if you try to do anything around your dog’s eye, he might get irritated and bite you.

The second reason is that you could do more harm than good.

By popping your dog’s eye stye you could cause them a lot of pain. Besides that, if you don’t get all the puss out, some of it could go deeper into your dog’s eyelid. Obviously, there are also bacteria that can stick around in the wound and make your dog even sicker.

Usually, there is no reason to pop the stye in the first place. A stye can even go away on its own, and it takes around 14 days. There is no need to use any home remedies.

Safe ways to treat it

The medical treatment for a dog stye is usually straightforward and in some cases can be done at home. But you still have to be careful and you must remember to NEVER pop the stye! Home treatment requires washing the afflicted area with warm water and the application of warm cloths. Medications in the form of drops, ointments, oral chews, or pills may help on occasion, depending on the cause of the problem. If the only cause of inflammation is the stye, and not an additional infection, antibiotics aren’t needed. But to help the soreness of your dog’s eyes, you can get him some artificial tears.

In some cases, your vet may need to remove the stye manually or provide a differential diagnosis. That’s just to rule out other conditions such as squamous cell carcinoma, corneal ulcers or another form of cancerous tumor. It isn’t necessary in most cases, however it would always be a good choice.


Dirt, oil, and other substances like dead skin can plug hair follicles near the eyelid, causing irritation and swelling. Your dog can also cause irritation with his own claws if he pulls on the stye. In rare cases, bacterial infections cause the meibomian glands surrounding the rim of the eye to appear red and puffy. The initial step in treating a dog stye is usually carefully washing the eyelid and surrounding area, which removes whatever is causing the clog or bacteria. Simple warm cloths can be used for this. Just warm up a cup of water and dip the cloths in it.


Dogs may feel anxious and in pain when coping with styes. A bacterial infection or debris that has gotten too close to the eyelid and irritated it might cause the area around the eye to become inflamed, as previously described. As a result, if your pet appears to be in more pain or discomfort, you should consider giving them medication to help them rest until the stye is fully treated. Always know that dog care goes beyond physical health. It’s mental health too.


Mild heat relaxes and opens the pores, making it simpler to clean them. It’s also possible that glands will drain as a result of it. After cleaning the eye, apply a warm compress to the dog stye several times a day to speed up recovery. Warm rags work well, but teabags or rice heated in the microwave for a few seconds have also worked well. This treatment is also the best value, as it’s basically free.

Antibiotic eye washes or ointments can help when bacteria is the source of the infection. They are usually straightforward to apply by raising the animal’s head, gently pressing down on the eyelid, and letting the medication flow down from the bottle or tube. A veterinarian may administer an oral antibiotic instead of or in addition to these choices because it is relatively easy to disguise in food. Depending on the severity of the illness, he may also prescribe cortisone, a medicine that reduces inflammation and swelling. Owners of elderly animals who suffer from styes on a regular basis are more likely to utilize these more sophisticated medications.


A dog eye stye is not a dangerous condition, but it is very uncomfortable and painful for dogs. It’s caused by changes to the immune system and trauma to the eye.

Even though it’s not that hard to recognize your dog has a stye, we still recommend going to the vet to just be sure. Sometimes more serious conditions like a tumor can have the same symptoms as a stye.

With that being said, you should definitely take your dog to the vet if you notice anything unusual about their eyes. Even if it’s just a stye, you don’t want your dog to be in pain, and a vet can help your canine the best.

Of course, a stye can also go away on its own. But, keep in mind that your dog is in pain, you should definitely do something about it. It’s best that you talk to your vet and ask them for advice, they might even give your dog an ointment, eye drops, or saline solution with which you will give your dog eye washes.

Some vets will even prescribe an oral antibiotic that your dog will take a couple of times a day. How much exactly depends on the antibiotic, your dog size, health and so on. But, if your vet gives your dog an oral antibiotic, he will tell you exactly how much they should have.

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I'm Michael, and I absolutely adore dogs. My faithful companion, Toby, is a Corgi who means the world to me. I'm passionate about building strong bonds with dogs and providing them with all the love and care they deserve.


Friday 15th of July 2022

Dogs do not perceive pain like humans do. Much higher tolerance. Otherwise, good article.

The Goldens Club

Saturday 16th of July 2022

@jimy, thanks, we appreciate it! :)