Eye discharge or ocular drainage is unattractive and some owners even find it gross. The crusts, gooey gunk, and boogers that can collect in the corner of a dog’s eyes can be caused by many things, most of which are no big deal.
Eye discharge is a normal thing and it means that your dog’s eyes are doing their job to clean out dust and such. Just like human eyes, dog tears clean, flush, and lubricate the eyes to keep them healthy and protected.
However, sometimes eye discharge can be a sign of a much bigger problem. If your dog suddenly starts to have eye discharge, or more than usual, it’s something you’ll want to keep an eye on and mention to your vet.
At times, a dog will produce more tears than normal, let’s say after swimming or during a high pollen season. Their eyes can even become irritated and water more than usual after a bath or playing outside.
Often eye discharge presents as:
- White or gray mucus (boogers)
- Clear tearing or drainage
- Yellow to green discharge
- Pink discharge
Each one of these presentations can mean something different and range from minor to super serious. So, paying attention to what is normal for your dog is important. However, since it’s the eyes we’re talking about, it’s always better to be safe than sorry if you’re worried.
Some causes of eye discharge can include:
- Dry eyes
- Scratch on the cornea
- Corneal ulcers
- Clogged duct
- Wound on the eyelid
- Something in the eye
- Cherry eye
Some Eye Problems and Their Symptoms
Allergy eyes usually present with excessive watering. The watery tears can then dry out and become crusts and boogers. But excessive watering can also be a symptom of irritation or even scratch on the cornea, which is an emergency.
Sudden excessive tearing can also indicate something is in the eye, an ingrown eyelash, dry eyes, inflammation of the eye, that an infection is brewing, tumors, and much more. If your dog is suffering from persistent excessive tearing or tearing accompanied by pain or scratching of the eye, it’s a good idea to have their eyes checked out be a vet.
Green or yellow discharge from the eye is a sign of infection. An infection can start from something as simple as allergies, conjunctivitis (inflammation in the lining of the dog’s eye), or even an injury. Any time there is green or yellow discharge coming from the eye, it’s time to see the vet.
Red, watery eyes can be a sign of a corneal ulcer. Corneal ulcers can be caused by trauma to the eye but also persistent dry eyes can eventually cause an ulceration. Corneal ulcers can also cause squinting, sensitivity to light, rubbing the eye with a paw, and thick discharge. Corneal ulcers require urgent vet care.
If your dog’s eyes are tearing and suddenly are bulging, look cloudy, or they seem painful, this is a symptom of glaucoma, which causes high pressure in the eyes. Glaucoma can cause blindness so you need to see a vet right away.
Pannus, a condition that occurs in German shepherds, may cause a mucus type discharge but not always. It usually presents as a whitish, pink or brown discoloration, pink mass on the cornea, haziness of the cornea, or an inflamed third eyelid. Pannus can lead to blindness and requires vet care.
It’s time to call the vet when:
- Your dog’s eye is cut, scratched, or bleeding
- There’s change in the amount of your dog’s eye discharge
- The normal discharge changes color, consistency, or starts to smell bad
- Your dog starts squinting
- Your dog’s eyes look swollen and/or red
- Your dog is holding the eye closed, pawing at it, rubbing it
- Your dog is sensitive to light or laying down a lot when it goes outdoors
- There seems to be a vision change, such as a change in depth perception or your pet can’t seem to perceive things right
- Sudden change in appearance of the eye
Treating eye boogers at home
Keeping your dog’s eyes clean can help prevent infection, not to mention, the gunk looks gross. As long as your dog doesn’t have a medical problem going on, it’s safe to clean their eyes.
What you can use:
Cotton balls, face pads, or soft wash cloth
Saline, over the counter
Eye wash, over the counter
Eye cleaning pads from the pet store
To clean the dog’s eyes, soak the cotton pad with saline, wash, or water and gently wipe your dog’s eyes. If the eyes are crusted shut, you may have to hold the cotton on the eyes to loosen the dried crusts (if it’s this bad, you need to see a vet). You can also use warm distilled water and a soft washcloth to wipe their face and eyes.
If your dog has allergies, washing their face after playtime and before bed can help remove pollen and such and make them more comfortable.
If the discharge quickly reappears, changes, or is getting worse, it’s a good idea to see the vet as soon as possible since certain eye problems can lead to serious infection and even blindness. Your vet can quickly examine the eyes to make sure there are no scratches or other problems going on that are not visible to the naked human eye.
We hope you found this information helpful. As always, please feel free to share with your friends.
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