A bit of dog eye boogers or discharge is quite normal. But as crusty eyes can be a sign of health issues, cleaning them should be a habit. Here’s how to do it.
When it comes to keeping our dogs in tip top shape, it’s the details like doggy eye boogers that are too easily ignored. Just like we should keep a regular grooming schedule of our dogs ears and make sure to invest in good dental health, eye hygiene is vital for a dog’s wellbeing. In fact, the eyes can be a window into a dog’s health as well as their soul.
So how do we clean dog eye boogers and crust from the eye safely? And when is a bit of discharge normal and when should be concerned?
What Causes Eye Boogers In Dogs?
A minor amount of eye boogers or crust in your dog’s eye is normal, especially in the morning when they wake up. Tears are a natural lubricant that keep the surface of the eye from drying out, and provide it with necessary nutrients. They also wash away any debris and foreign objects. They typically drain away in tear ducts if the eye is healthy and normal.
But overnight, the tears can congregate on the ends of the eyelid or edge of the eye. Here some dead skin cells, dust, sebum, other debris can get locked in the moisture and create eye boogers, or goop. If this dries out, it becomes a light, reddish-brown crust. A little booger or crust is normal around the eye.
You can simply use a safe dog eye booger wipes to gently wipe them away. The Pawsafe eye wipes use non-toxic plant-based surfactants to cleanse eye discharge. It is also important to do this to prevent infections such as conjunctivitis and blepharitis.
But if the discharge from your dog’s eye becomes excessive, it’s important to know the kinds of eye gunk and when to take it seriously. So what if your dog has a lot of eye gunk?
Why Does My Dog Have So Many Eye Boogers?
If your dog has more eye boogers than usual it could be a sign of conjunctivitis. This inflammation around the eye can have a number of causes, ranging from allergies to canine distemper. Sometimes a lot of eye boogers are the result of abnormalities such as entropion that may need surgery to fix. Excessive eye discharge can be a sign of something more serious, so it’s vital to know what to be on the lookout for.
Watery eyes or sudden excessive tearing have a range of causes. Sometimes, it’s no more than a bit of dust or pollen that is irritating the eye, and if your dog shows no signs of discomfort you can simply monitor it for a couple of days. However, if your dog is squinting, or rubbing their eye against something, there may be more serious causes. These could include:
- Blocked tear ducts
- Damage to the cornea
- Something lodged in the eye
Red or Brown Stains Under The Eye
Excessive tearing, or tears that run down the face can also lead to reddish brown tear stains. These usually occur because of an abnormal eye shape. It is usually most obvious in toy breeds with large round eyes such as the Maltese, Bichon Frise, or Poodle. But it is also common in short-nosed breeds like pugs that have a lot of protruding eyes.
White or Gray Eye Boogers
Excessive white or gray eye gunk from your dog is a clear warning sign. This is usually from inflammation rather than infection. Often, tit occurs because of dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS. This usually happens because of an autoimmune problem that destroys a dog’s tear glands. Without enough tears, the body produces more mucus to compensate, but mucus isn’t adequate, so inflammation soon develops.
The eyes may become painful and red. Corneal ulcers may occur. Other inflammation in the eye includes
- Conjunctivitis: inflammation of the lining around the eye.
- Uveitis: inflammation within the eye
- Blepharitis: inflammation in the eyelid.
Occasionally, white eye discharge could also be allergies. Nevertheless, it’s important that your vet examine a dog with a lot of white eye boogers. Always ask your vet to look for eyelid abnormalities like entropion that may need surgical intervention to stop permanently irritating and damaging your dog’s eyes.
Yellow or Green Eye Boogers
Yellow or green discharge or boogers from your dog’s eyes typically mean your dog has an infection, not just inflammation. You may see a lot of redness around the eye too. Remember, cleaning your dog’s eye crust and tear stains are vital to help avoid infections and inflammation problems, as it helps remove bacteria and fungi growing in problem areas.
Eye infections that cause yellow or green discharge usually happen because of other conditions such as an injury or dry eye. They also happen as a secondary infection if your dog is fighting off other conditions such as distemper, respiratory problems, or nervous system. So this is always a reason to see the vet as soon as possible.
Red discharge from the eyes is very rare and very serious. Bloody discharge could mean injury or even a tumor. This needs immediate treatment.
So now that we know what’s normal and what’s not, how do we effectively clean our dog’s eye boogers?
How To Get Rid Of Dog Eye Boogers and Dog Eye Crust
Now that you know what to look for when it comes to eye boogers, how do we go about cleaning the gunk from a dog’s eyes?
Step One: Trim Hair Around The Eyes
Always trim the hair around a dog’s eyes, especially if they had long hair in the corner of their lids. This hair drains away tears onto the face. It can cause tears stains, but also provides a moist environment for bacteria and yeast infections to flourish.
Dogs like Schnauzers that have long hair above their eyes can also have it get into their eyes and irritate them. Not to mention that it obscures their vision. Be sure to trim these back too.
Step Two: Clean Any Tear Stains
Part of good daily grooming practice is to clean any tear stains beneath the eye. To read more about cleaning brown or red tear stains on dogs, you can see this article.
Step Three: Ask Your Vet For Doggy Eye Drops
If your dog has any persistent or recurring problems with irritants, dry eyes, allergies, or other issues that you can’t fix medically, make sure you are always ready with eye drops. They should be a part of your doggy eye kit, to flush out any foreign objects, lubricate, or soothe an irritated eye.
Step Four: Soften Eye Crust
If the eye gunk has dried up and formed a crust, take a warm, wet cloth and gently hold it against your dog’s eyelids to soften the crust. Be careful not to press too hard! After that you can gently wipe the crust away.
Step Five: Use Specialized Eye Wipes And A Pet Eye Comb
Be careful to use a product safely designed for dogs to gently wipe away soft gunk and boogers. A gentle, plant-based surfactant on Pawsafe eye wipes can softly remove the boogers and cleanse the area.
Some groomers also use a pet eye comb to remove gunk clinging to hair around the eyes.
A little bit of eye gunk in a dog’s eyes is entirely normal and to be expected. However, it’s important to keep an eye — pun intended — on discharge in case your dog’s eye is inflamed, irritated, or infected.
Either way, keeping on top of ocular hygiene is just as important as keeping your dog’s teeth and ears clean.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.