What’s that in the corner of your dog’s eye?
Is it a harmless dog booger or something else?
How do you tell the difference?
Here’s what we know:
Some dogs seem to have perpetually weepy eyes while others develop dark, crusty boogers. Every dog is different and so are their boogers.
Here’s what we want to find out:
When is a dog booger normal and when is it something to be concerned about?
In this article, we’re going to cover five different kinds of dog eye boogers and eye discharge so you can easily identify the type your dog has and whether it is something to talk to your vet about.
Let’s start with goop:
Dog Eye Goop
Your dog’s eyes are just like yours in that they produce tears to keep them moist and hydrated. Tears also help to remove debris that gets trapped in the corner of your dog’s eyes, or under the lid.
Tears drain through the tear ducts located in the corner of each eye, but sometimes you might find some goop or crust accumulated there.
What is dog eye goop?
It’s just a mixture of dried tears, dead cells, mucus, oil, dust, and whatever other debris that has been cleared from your dog’s eye. You’re most likely to see it in the morning and you can clean it away with a damp cloth.
Unless your dog’s eyes are red and he doesn’t show any signs of discomfort, these dog eye boogers are absolutely nothing to worry about!
Moving on to the next type of eye booger:
Clear and Watery
If your dog looks like he’s crying, it could be the result of clear and watery discharge.
Watery eyes can be a sign of many different dog eye conditions. In many cases, it is nothing to worry about but, if combined with other symptoms, it could be a sign of a serious problem.
Excessive eye watering is known as epiphora and it can be the result of environmental allergies, blocked tear ducts, foreign material in the eye, corneal wounds, or glaucoma. In some breeds, it may also be an anatomical abnormality that causes the eyes to protrude or the eyelids to roll inward or outward, causing minor irritation.
If your dog seems to be tearing more than usual but seems fine otherwise, you shouldn’t panic but you should definitely monitor the situation.
When the excessive tearing continues, changes color, or if your dog’s eyes become red and swollen, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Now, there is another type of excessive tearing to cover:
Red/Brown Tear Stains
White and light-colored dogs often develop reddish or brown discharge in the corners of their eyes.
You’ll probably see this in breeds like the Maltese, Poodle, and Shih Tzu which have light-colored coats as well as other short-face breeds like the Pekingese and Pug. Sometimes dogs that have a lot of fur growing close to their eyes or have shallow eye sockets may develop this problem as well.
What causes dog tear stains?
Your dog’s tears actually contain a pigment called porphyrin that, upon prolonged exposure to air, turns a reddish-brown color. That’s why it may happen in darker dogs but you’re most likely to notice it in dogs that have white coats.
In most cases, dog tear stains are nothing more than a cosmetic problem. Again, if your dog’s eyes become red and puffy, or if he shows signs of discomfort, talk to your veterinarian.
Before we move on, let’s talk for a second about how to get rid of dog tear stains.
The easiest solution is to prevent the stains from forming by wiping your dog’s eyes with warm water or a dog eye wash a few times a day. You can also keep the fur around his eyes trimmed short to prevent irritation – just be extremely careful using scissors around your dog’s eyes!
If your dog has already developed tear stains, here is a quick home remedy for dog tear stains:
- Mix one part hydrogen peroxide to four parts water.
- Use a cotton swab to dab the mixture into the fur around your dog’s eyes.
- Repeat several times a day until the stains lift.
Remember, be very careful when cleaning or trimming fur around your dog’s eyes! And don’t get your dog’s eyes wet, if you can help it.
Now, moving on to another type of dog eye boogers:
White or Gray Mucus
Up until this point, most types of dog eye boogers are nothing to be concerned about but you should know this:
White or gray mucus coming from your dog’s eyes is NOT normal!
The most common cause of white or gray mucus is dog keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or KCS.
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is also known as dry eye and it develops when your dog’s immune system starts to attack and destroy the glands that produce tears. When your dog’s eyes don’t produce enough tears to stay moist, the body might compensate by producing extra mucus instead.
Unfortunately, mucus doesn’t lubricate the eyes as well as tears. As a result, your dog’s eyes become red, swollen, and painful.
He could even develop ulcers!
If you don’t treat this condition, your dog could go blind.
When you take your dog to the vet for dog eye mucus, he will most likely perform a test called a Schirmer Tear Test. This will help him to determine whether your dog’s mucus is caused by keratoconjunctivitis or by something else.
Once your dog has a diagnosis, your vet will prescribe a treatment. In most cases, dog eye drops do the trick and your dog should be feeling better soon. In extreme cases, surgical correction may be needed.
Now, for the worst type of dog eye boogers:
Yellow or Green Dog Eye Boogers
When your dog’s eyes start to produce yellow or green mucus or discharge, it is a definite sign of a problem – probably an infection.
Dog eye infections are not something you should ignore.
They can sometimes develop as a result of a simple, minor problem but can escalate into something serious. Sometimes what looks like a typical dog eye infection is actually a sign of a dangerous systemic illness – only your vet can tell the difference!
How are dog eye infections treated?
It depends on the cause.
As is true for you and me, dog eye infections can be caused by many things including the following:
- Environmental irritants
- Foreign matter
There are also some dog eye conditions that can produce symptoms similar to eye infection. This is true for glaucoma, dry eye, tear duct problems, and certain vitamin deficiencies. Conditions like entropion and ectropion may also cause your dog’s eyes to tear or become inflamed.
Symptoms of dog eye infections may include:
- Watery discharge
- Thick mucus discharge
- Redness or swelling
- Squinting the eyes
- Excessive blinking
- Keeping the eye closed
- Pawing at the eye
- Sensitivity to light
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, particularly when paired with a yellow or green discharge, you should see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet will perform routine laboratory tests as well as a physical exam to diagnose the problem and determine a treatment.
Okay, so now you know about the different types of dog eye boogers.
How do you prevent them?
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to prevent dog eye boogers:
Tips for Keeping Your Dog’s Eyes Healthy
Though eye boogers in dogs aren’t necessarily a cause for concern, you should still take basic steps to keep your dog’s eyes health.
It’s really pretty simple – here’s what you have to do:
Keep your dog’s eyes clean and dry as much as possible.
Check your dog’s eyes daily for discharge or signs of infection.
Clean your dog’s eyes as needed with a dog eye wash (particularly for white and light-colored dogs).
If at any point you notice a change in your dog’s eyes, it warrants a closer look. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my dog tearing more than usual?
- Is the discharge thin and watery or thick and colored?
- Is there a foul odor coming from the discharge?
- Are my dog’s eyes red or swollen?
- Does my dog appear to be in discomfort or pain?
If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, it is definitely something worth looking into, but not necessarily a problem. Go back and review the signs of dog eye infection to see if your dog fits the symptoms. If so, take him to the vet!
Your dog’s eyes are one of his most valuable assets and it’s your job to take care of them!
As long as you keep an eye on them (pun intended) you’ll be just fine.