I am looking for the quickest way to fix this problem: the crazy colored eyes that happen when the flash hits a dog's eyes.

It is really annoying to capture a pretty decent shot of a dog, only to have the ghoulish colored eyes ruin everything about the image. I know that dogs have a wide range of ghoulish colors when it comes to them getting pet eye. But no matter what wrong color they come out, is there a quick fix for this?

Photo editing programs have red eye repair for humans, but it basically never works on pets' eyes.

Why don't they have anything simple like that for pets? A one or two step solution: remove the ghoulish color, insert correct color!

It would be great to have a large spectrum of colors to use (thinking about cats here, since dogs usually have brown, amber or blue eyes and cats tend to have more color variations.)

I have taken domestic rabbit photos. Some had red eyes and I used the human red eye function on the bunny's image to see what would happen but it didn't work. Out of frustration I find natural light makes my life easier, so I try to stick with that — which I am sure is obvious to all who have done pet photography. But some of your best opportunities for a great animal shot can happen indoors.

What is the easiest and quickest way to fix the pet eye phenomena? I have Adobe Photoshop 7, PhotoShop Essentials version 9, and a bunch of other photo editing programs. I am pretty tired of hand rendering my boxer's eyes by hand. It takes work to get just the right brown and not make it look painted in.

  • possible duplicate of How to Avoid Red-Eye in Photos?
    – dpollitt
    Jan 23, 2013 at 13:43
  • Q: How to prevent or fix red eye in dogs? A: Flash techniques such as bounce or off camera during the shot, or one of the millions of tutorials on the internet of how to post process them easily out. It is caused by the tapetum lucidum, and is no different then in humans.
    – dpollitt
    Jan 23, 2013 at 13:46
  • 3
    possible duplicate of How would one remove yellow eyes instead of red eyes?
    – Imre
    Jan 23, 2013 at 15:38
  • Could you post an example of a picture with the weird color? Jan 23, 2013 at 16:29
  • Older versions of Paint Shop Pro were unique in having red-eye removal that works on pet eyes. Jan 19, 2015 at 22:56

5 Answers 5


You can darken the pupils in a separate layer and tweak the transparency. You'd want to tweak a bit more on the edges of your drawn part to make it less fake. If you have a photo with the natural color, colorpick that and draw with that color instead of black.

This tutorial just uses black, but shows the general procedure:


I don't think it is good enough, though.

However, it is best not to get to the point where you need it. No flash is great when you can, but there are ways to use a flash too. Get a flash that can be rotated. Face it up to the side. Or get a cable/wireless trigger and hold it off to the side.

Here is an example of (top) swiveled flash (bottom) cable flash off center

cable off center versus swivel flash


The number one thing you can do is to get the flash off the camera. I use remote flashes when I can and a Custom Bracket at other times.

The reflection in the dogs eyes is the same phenomenon as red-eye in people, it is light reflecting off of the back of their eye and into your camera, by moving the flash or other light source off axes of the camera the reflected light will not bounce back into your camera.

For small pet photography I would use remote flash(es) controlled by inexpensive Cowboy Studio remotes and set them up to the right, left, and behind the pet. In my house I set this up to cover the entire living room so my pet (read family) can move about and so can I.

When out and about, at events where I am forced to use flash in really big rooms where there is nothing to bounce flash off of, I use a Custom Bracket to move the flash about 6 inches higher than it would be without the bracket and if needed I can also move the flash about 5 inches to the right. This works great out to about 30 feet for reducing or eliminating red-eye when using a 70-200 lens.

EDIT: I have another idea.

Something I have been using at home lately are some really HUGE compact florescent light bulbs. I put them in the fixtures around the room and then do not have to use flash at all. Everyone gets used to the bright light quickly enough and are much less bothered by my taking of pictures. The bulbs I bought from Lowes are 68 watt/300 watt equivalent bulbs and you can get 500 watt equivalent bulbs from many sources.

  • 1
    Giving a twist to your idea: A flashgun that has slave mode (the kind that "detects" the firing of any other flash) can be triggered without a transmitter, you just have to use a small cardboard or small mirror to redirect camera's flash towards the flashgun. This trick is extremely helpful if your camera does not have a hotshoe, like a P&S for example.
    – Jahaziel
    Jan 23, 2013 at 15:17
  • 2
    Agree, move the flash off camera. You can use an inexpensive speedlite and a $15 TTL cable. Fix the root cause, don't bother to fix it in post-processing. Jan 23, 2013 at 22:10

A certain range of cameras have a 'Red eye removal' option in their menu which basically uses a pre-flash before the actual flash to be fired in order to close the iris in order to mitigate the Red Eye's effect. If you can do that on your camera then the problem is solved.

  • 2
    That doesnt seem to work on dogs. Jan 23, 2013 at 9:29
  • 1
    Why? Did you tried? Not that I contest your comment - I'm just curios to know that you have practical experience with this. Jan 23, 2013 at 10:24
  • 1
    I tried it and it didn't work :) Some dogs were even smart enough to look the other way and close their eyes as soon as they saw the red eye flash. Jan 23, 2013 at 10:32
  • You are suggesting that dogs are smart enough to know that a red eye pre-flash is occurring and look the other way? Maybe they just don't want to look directly into bright flashes of light, and has nothing to do with how smart they are, it could also just scare them...
    – dpollitt
    Jan 23, 2013 at 13:49
  • 1
    With my cameras I always disable red eye removal. The pre-flashes take so long that by the time the photo gets taken, you've lost the moment you wanted. I use a hot-shoe flash, pointed at the ceiling. Or, an off-camera flash.
    – hdhondt
    Jan 24, 2013 at 0:57

The effect you're referring to is due to the Tapetum Lucidum, which is a different mechanism for "eye shine" than humans have, and it can be different colors. The Wikipedia article I linked to even shows pet photos with two differently-colored eyes.

My recipe for eliminating red eye is to mask the eye and dramatically reduce the saturation. May work for this as well.


This is a very late follow up post. I found someone who runs a Photoshop Elements tutorial website and asked him for help. He kindly devised a method- in steps- that can be used to change the various eye colors on dogs( key point: they are the WRONG COLORS or GHOULISH COLORS)

( I have version 9 of PSE- he made the tute at my request and then PSE 13 finally had the option for pet eye correction)

Some people did not read the problem at hand closely and they think this is a red eye question,. It actually is not. We know most photo retouch programs have instant red eye retouch as a feature.

This does not work on dogs when it comes to incorrect eye colors showing up in images ( for whatever reason, though I will admit, flash is the culprit 99 percent of the time.)

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