- Eye discharge occurs naturally in all dogs and helps their eyes to stay clean. Normal eye discharge should be clear, and its amount shouldn’t be excessive.
- Allergies and irritation are the most common causes of excessive eye discharge in dogs. Other causes include viruses, eye infections, cherry eye, or blocked tear ducts.
- To prevent excessive eye discharge in dogs, try to keep irritants (such as dust) from getting into your dog’s eyes.
- To get rid of the dog’s eye discharge at home, clean its eyes regularly, watch the pet’s diet, enrich it with fresh products, and use some herbs such as astaxanthin and marigold.
Just like humans, dogs can sometimes wake up with eye discharge, which is completely natural. In most cases, the discharge is healthy, and simple home remedies can help you get rid of it. Still, sometimes, excessive eye discharge can signify that your pet is suffering from potentially dangerous conditions. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about canine eye discharge and give you a list of effective home remedies that can be used to treat the pet.
Table of Contents
Eye Discharge – What Is It?
Eye discharge is released naturally by the body to cleanse the eye. The discharge accumulates in the inner corner of the eye, right where tears originate, and normally it’s either clear or brownish-red in color. The discharge is comprised of mucus, dust, dried tears, oil, dead cells, and other substances that may get into the dog’s eyes from the air.
Dog owners usually observe eye discharge in their pets in the morning or after a long nap. Healthy eye discharge should be observed only occasionally, and its amount should be constant. If the discharge is abnormal, you may notice red or dry eyes, irritation around the eyes, pus, crusty buildup, and unpleasant odor coming from the pet’s facial fur. If left untreated, it can cause blindness or loss of the eye.
Causes Of Eye Discharge In Dogs
The most common causes for eye discharge are allergy and irritation caused by agents such as dust or wind. In these cases, eye discharge is usually clear. However, it can also be caused by the inflammation of the cornea (protective layer of the eye) or corneal wounds, blocked tear ducts, vitamin deficiency, tumors, poisoning, cherry eye, and anatomical conditions such as rolled-in eyelids. If you see a watery discharge in your pet’s eyes, it most likely means that a foreign object got into your dog’s eye.
Some other causes of abnormal eye discharge are:
- Viruses such as herpes, hepatitis, distemper, and canine influenza
- Bacteria and parasites
- Tick-borne diseases such as canine ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease
- Dry eyes. This condition occurs when the eye fails to produce tears, and it’s usually caused by an injury, knock in the head, or distemper infection.
- Glaucoma. This condition is caused by pressure in the eye, and the symptoms include bulging or cloudy eyes, sometimes accompanied by constant tearing.
- Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye membrane). This condition is usually accompanied by mucus or yellow-green discharge, red eyes, inflammation, and crusty eyes.
- Corneal ulcers. Corneal injuries are the typical cause of corneal ulcers. If your dog has red and watery eyes, expresses sensitivity to light, and frequently tries to rub the eyes, you should see your vet immediately since the treatment requires antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, or even surgery.
- Excessive tearing (epiphora). This condition results in your pet’s eyes becoming excessively watery and its fur developing an unpleasant smell. Epiphora can be caused by certain medications, ulcers, abnormal eyelash growth, or your pet could develop it as a result of surgery for duct obstruction.
- Genetic predisposition. Some breeds, especially brachycephalic breeds, are genetically predisposed to excessive tearing because of their shallow eye sockets, corneal ulcers, abnormal eyelash growth, and compressed tear ducts. Also, breeds with loose facial skin are more prone to cherry eye and ectropion (a condition that causes eyelids to roll outward). The most common treatment in these situations is surgery, but antibiotics can also help.
Abnormal eye discharge can also be a sign of brain injury, so it’s very important to have your vet examine your dog to determine the cause and treat the condition as soon as possible.
Symptoms Of Dog Eye Infection
Eye discharge is only one of the many symptoms of eye infections in dogs. Besides eye discharge, you should watch your pup’s eyes for:
- Excessive blinking
- Light sensitivity
- Closed eye
- Pawing at the eye
- Signs of discomfort
It’s crucial to have your vet properly diagnose your pet’s eye infection before administering any treatment since if the condition is caused by a virus or parasite, antibiotics will be ineffective. Your vet will test your dog’s eye reaction to light during the exam and look for eye injuries and scratches. The specialist can also perform a duct test to see if the dog’s tear ducts properly produce the tears. If the infection is caused by bacteria, the vet will prescribe antibiotics.
Preventing Eye Discharge In Dogs
Since eye discharge is completely natural, in most cases, there’s no need to prevent it. But there are a few things you can do to ensure that your pet’s eye discharge remains healthy.
First of all, check your dog’s eyes regularly. They should be bright, white around the iris, and free of crust. The pupils should be the same size, and you shouldn’t be able to see the inner eyelids. There shouldn’t be any tearing in the eyes, and the pet shouldn’t be squinting. You will also need to pull down the dog’s lower eyelids and ensure that they are pink in color.
If you notice any tearing, tear-stained fur, closed or squinted eyes, discharge, cloudiness, or a visible third eyelid, it’s better to contact your vet and check your dog for the conditions mentioned above.
If your dog is allergic to something or has seasonal allergies, you can alleviate the condition with medication or eye drops. If your dog is experiencing hives, inflammation, irritation, and breathing issues, it could mean that it’s allergic to something.
Another way to reduce or prevent eye irritation and discharge is to trim the hair around the pet’s eyes. It’s also a good idea to shield your dog’s eyes from wind, sand, dust, and pollen by keeping it indoors on windy days. Using doggy goggles can be really helpful for the dogs who like to peek their head out of the window while riding in a car. But in general, try to stop your dog from sticking its head out of the windows and try to eliminate the possibility of something getting in its eyes.
Home Remedies For Runny Eyes In Dogs
Keep The Dog’s Eyes Clean
This is the easiest and most effective way to deal with eye discharge. You can simply dampen a clean cotton cloth with warm water or use a piece of gauze. Start from the inner corner of the eye and move the cloth outward. Be gentle, as the pup’s eyes are a very vulnerable area. Be careful to avoid pushing the discharge back into the eye. You can also dampen a clean cloth with saline solution instead of warm water, and it will work just fine.
Food can impact any health condition a canine is experiencing, and abnormal eye discharge is not an exception. Try to give your pet fresh food as it helps prevent eye discharge and improve the pet’s vision. Vets also recommend pet owners add foods high in beta-carotene, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, to their dogs’ diets. In addition, blueberries, kale, broccoli, and sardines are great options for snacks. These products are high in phytonutrients, omega fatty acids, and natural antioxidants.
Astaxanthin and marigold can help fight abnormal dog eye discharge. Astaxanthin, which is an alga, contains lots of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Marigold is rich in carotenoids, and it can be helpful with eye discharge.
Apply Dog Eye Medication
Usually, your vet will prescribe eye drops or ointments to cure abnormal eye discharge. However, if using them is stressing out both you and your dog, then here are some tips:
- Clean up any eye discharge with a cotton cloth and warm water, and keep eye drops or ointments in the area of your reach.
- When applying eye drops, tilt your dog’s head back a little and hold your hand on its head to ensure that you don’t accidentally hit the dog’s eye if it suddenly moves. Then squeeze the eye drops into the upper part of your dog’s eye.
- When applying an ointment, keep your hand on your dog’s head and very carefully pull down the pet’s lower eyelid. Finally, squeeze the ointment into the dog’s eye using the applicator.
- To help eye drops and ointments spread evenly, gently open and close your dog’s eyes. Do not allow the applicator to touch the eyes.
- If your dog resists having the medication put in its eyes, ask someone to help you by holding the pet while you apply the drops or ointment. Remember to reward your dog afterward.
Remember that antibiotics can only help if your dog has a bacterial eye infection. Sometimes, they are prescribed to prevent bacterial infection after an eye injury. Follow the instructions and don’t use any medicine without your vet’s approval. If your dog doesn’t get better or its eyes begin to swell, indicating an allergic reaction, then stop administering treatment and make an appointment with your vet.
How do I get rid of my dog’s eye discharge?
Don’t use your fingers to remove eye discharge and instead, try a dog tear stain remover or a cotton cloth dampened with warm water. Trimming the hair around the eyes can help too.
When should I take my dog to the vet for eye discharge?
If the eye discharge is not clear, your dog is squinting, and has red eyes, seek a vet’s consultation immediately.
Is eye discharge normal in dogs?
Yes, it’s a natural way for the body to clean the eyes.
Should I clean my dog’s eye boogers?
Yes, you should clean your pet’s eyes every time you wash the dog. If you notice eye discharge or dirt near the eyes, you should clean them more often.
What causes dog eye discharge?
There are many causes for dog eye discharge, but the most common are allergies, eye infections, abnormal eyelash growth, and birth defects. Your pet may also experience excessive eye discharge if there’s a foreign substance like dirt or dust in the eye.
Will conjunctivitis go away by itself in dogs?
No, you should consult with your vet, as the condition can’t go away on its own.