In this post, our veterinary ophthalmologists in South Florida explain what causes eye boogers, how to clean them, and when it’s necessary to see a vet. Additionally, we'll provide information on preventive measures to reduce the occurrence of eye boogers and offer guidance on maintaining good eye hygiene for your beloved dog.
Dog eye discharge is a common problem in small dog breeds, dogs with short faces, and dogs with bulging eyes. The reason for its occurrence can range from minor allergies to more serious conditions, such as glaucoma. An examination by our vet ophthalmology team in South Florida may be necessary if their eye discharge is severe.
What causes eye boogers?
Your dog may experience eye boogers for various reasons. Canine conjunctivitis and seasonal discharge are the two most common causes. Because the dog's eye is similar to that of humans, the eye may become red and itchy. Wind, dust, dirt, and pollen allergies are the most common cause of such a symptom. Mold spores and mites are also to blame.
Several benign tumors on the eyelids that rub the surface of the eye may develop in a few dogs. As a result, the dog experiences discomfort and discharge. A few dogs may be born with collapsed or incomplete tear ducts. Because of this, tears frequently spill over and stain the fur beneath the eyes. A few puppies may also be born with droopy eyelids. They come in and cause dryness or chronic irritation, resulting in eye boogers.
A traumatized cornea could also cause eye boogers. Keratitis conjunctivitis, also known as dry eye, can result in the accumulation of slimy green mucus on a dog's eye. Excessive tearing in dogs may be caused by abnormal lashes, glaucoma, or conjunctivitis infections.
Are the colors of a dog's eye boogers significant?
Yes, they are. There are many different types of eye boogers that are common in dogs. Below, we have provided a list with the most common colors and what they might mean.
Clear or Watery Discharge: Tears play a vital role in keeping the eye and the cornea nourished with oxygen and moisture. But excessively watery eyes may be associated with many medical conditions varying from common allergies to more serious anatomical abnormalities. Epiphora is the excessive watering of the eye that occurs in dogs when they are exposed to dust, irritants, pollutants, pollen, or smoke in excessive amounts. However, if your dog experiences constant redness or inflammation in their eyes and appears to be in pain, you should contact our South Florida vets immediately to rule out any chances of any corneal wounds or glaucoma.
Dark Red or Brown Stains: Light-colored breeds have a higher risk of developing a reddish-brown pigmentation in the fur just beneath the inner eye corners of their eyes. This is because of the presence of a pigment known as porphyrin in the dog's tears. This pigment, when left exposed to the air for an extended period, turns a shade that is somewhere between red and brown. In most cases, this condition is merely a "cosmetic" one, and it does not indicate that there is any kind of significant problem with the patient's health.
White Discharge: Allergies, irritants, or anatomical abnormalities can cause a white discharge. It can also be caused by conjunctivitis—inflammation of the tissues around the eye—and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), otherwise known as dry eye. KCS causes a dog's tears to stop flowing normally. This causes the eye to dry out and produce the white, ocular discharge. Call your veterinarian if you notice white discharge in your dog's eye and/or if the discharge is sticking to the surface of the eye. While conjunctivitis and keratoconjunctivitis are annoying in and of themselves, white eye discharge may also indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as an infection or injury.
Green or Yellow Discharge: This kind of discharge is often due to a bacterial infection in the eye or because of corneal ulcers, infected KCS, or infected wounds on the eye's surface. These conditions normally require antibiotics.
How can I prevent eye boogers?
To prevent eye boogers in your dog, it is important to regularly clean their eyes. Use a damp cloth or a pet-safe eye wipe to gently remove any discharge or debris around their eyes. Additionally, make sure your dog's living environment is clean and free from dust or allergens that could irritate their eyes.
To properly clean your dog's eyes, start by gently wiping away any discharge or debris using a clean, damp cloth or a specially formulated eye wipe for dogs. Be sure to use a separate cloth for each eye to prevent the spread of any potential infection. If you notice persistent redness, swelling, or excessive discharge, it is important to consult your veterinarian for further guidance and potential treatment options.
When should I see a vet?
As a general rule, if your dog has watery, clear eye discharge for a day or two but their eyes look otherwise normal and they are not scratching and are keeping their eyelids open, it is likely nothing to be worried about. Reach out to your vet if your dog has watery eye discharge that lasts more than a few days or if you notice any of the colors of discharge listed above.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.