Tears are designed to lubricate the eyeball. They provide oxygen to the cornea and help to keep debris and foreign particles out of the eye. The gunk that you normally see in your dog’s eye is usually just an accumulation of natural oils, mucus, dead cells, etc. You might notice it first thing in the morning and sometimes throughout the day.
This kind of crusting around the eye is considered normal as long as your dog isn’t showing other signs of eye irritation (redness, swelling, itching, etc.)
Sometimes (because of medical issues or external factors), a dog’s tears are unable to drain properly. The eyes become irritated or inflamed when this happens and the result is the goopy eye discharge we sometimes see in dogs.
This discharge is often normal, but it can be a sign of an underlying condition that needs treatment.
The following are possible causes of those “boogers” that sometimes make an appearance in the corner of the dog’s eyes. Remember that even seemingly minor eye problems in dogs can seriously impact eye health.
1. Watery Eyes in Dogs – Allergies
Allergens like pollen, dust, mold, and even pet dander can cause watery, red eyes. These factors can be affected by weather, and seasons, so the resulting eye boogers may come and go. If your dog has severe allergies, they may also present with skin irritation, and general itchiness.
If allergies bother your dog, a regular antihistamine could make them more comfortable by reducing the body’s response to the allergen.
Watery eyes (epiphora) can be cause by sensitivity to wind, cold, corneal ulcers, or a developing infection.
Home Remedies for Watery Eyes in Dogs
If your dog is suffering from morning goopy eyes, the best thing you can do is simply wash it away with a warm cloth. Unless there’s an underlying condition to be solved, the goopy eyes are probably going to continue. The best you can do is keep the eyes clean by gently removing the substance.
If your dog is experiencing fur-staining because of the excessive tears, there are some products you can use, including:
Conjunctivitis in dogs, more commonly known as Pink Eye, is characterized by inflammation of the thin, clear tissue that lines the outer part of the eye and inside of the eyelid (conjuctiva). One tell-tale sign that your dog is suffering from conjunctivitis is yellow-green discharge.
Dogs with conjunctivitis may experience itchy, red eyes. Some dogs are prone to conjunctivitis which is caused by allergies, bacteria, or irritation from a secondary eye condition (glaucoma or ulcer). In otherwise healthy dogs, conjunctivitis isn’t a cause for great concern unless it resists treatment.
Home Remedies for Conjunctivitis in Dogs
It’s always a good idea to get vet-recommended products for your dog. If your dog has any eye problems at all, please have a licensed veterinarian perform an eye exam.
Once you have the go-ahead, there are many amazing products on the market that will go a long way in easing your dog’s eye discomfort. These include any of the following:
3. Dry Eye in Dogs
Dry eye, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, usually develops when a dog’s immune system attacks the glands that produce natural tears. The body tries to remedy this by over-producing tears in an attempt to keep the eye lubricated. Unfortunately, this process compounds the problem by further irritating the eyes.
Dry eye in dogs is usually noticed as white-gray mucus that collects around the dog’s eyes and can be confirmed with a Schirmer Tear Test. Chronic dry eye is a serious condition that can result in the eyelids rubbing against the cornea making it appear cloudy. The condition can also lead to bacterial infections because there are not enough tears to flush foreign particles away.
Home & Prescription Remedies for Dry Eyes in Dogs
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4. Entropion (Abnormal Eyelashes)
Entropion is an eyelid condition in which the eyelids roll inwards causing the eyelashes to irritate or even damage the cornea. It’s a common condition in some puppies which is usually the result of disproportionate eyelid growth. Puppies with this condition will usually outgrow it.
Some dogs, however, do not outgrow the condition. In minor cases, “tacking” is a simple procedure that may help prevent the eyelid from rolling inward. Severe cases may require surgery to remove a small section of the eyelid.
In severe cases, this condition is painful and can cause pain, corneal ulcers, small holes in the cornea, or even change the pigment of the cornea which can cause vision problems.
Two surgeries are usually performed to reduce the risk of over-correcting the problem. Signs of entropion in dogs include:
- Holding one eye shut
- Excessive Tearing
- Goopy or “booger” like appearance of discharge around the eye
- Rubbing or pawing at the eyes
- Light sensitivity
At-Home & Medical Treatment of Mild Entropion in Dogs
-Please see below (Home Treatment of Mild Ectropion in Dogs)
5. Ectropion (Abnormal Eyelashes)
Ectropion is the opposite issue, characterized by eyelids that roll outwards rather than in. This condition can cause chronic irritation and goopy “booger-like” discharge. This is because the eye is unable to drain properly. In addition, because the eyelids don’t sit against the eye with this condition, it’s easier for foreign bodies to get into the eye.
Home Treatment of Mild Ectropion in Dogs
Always ask a licensed veterinarian for suggestions on how to best treat mild cases of ectropion in dogs. There are countless drops and eye gels on the market, but they may not all be suitable for your dog’s eye condition.
Keep in mind that the drops and gels suggested below are not a cure of entropion or ectropion. Instead, they provide lubrication and fight bacterial infections. Some of these are by prescription only.
6. Corneal Ulcer
A corneal ulcer is the result of erosion into the layers of epithelium and into the stroma. If your dog has a corneal ulcer, he/she will not be able to see very well because of the cloudy appearance caused by fluid build-up. This is a very painful condition that is diagnosed using special stains known as fluorescein.
A drop of the stain is placed on the cornea making any ulcers appear green in color.
The epithelium is the membrane lining the outer part of the cornea. This is the part of the eye responsible for maintaining a transparent layer and acting as a barrier to bacterial agents.
The corneal stroma is thick connective tissue that makes up 90% of the corneal thickness. It is made up of water and proteins that give it some elasticity.
The Descemet’s membrane is the deepest layer or the cornea. If a corneal ulcer is left untreated, it can sink into this deep layer causing serious consequences.
Treating Corneal Ulcers in Dogs
Corneal ulcers should not be treated at home without medical supervision. Always seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian as this condition can cause permanent blindness in dogs.
Glaucoma in dogs is characterized by intense pressure within the eyes, preventing the tear ducts from draining the eye properly and creating discharge. Usually both eyes are affected by this condition.
Typical symptoms of glaucoma in dogs include:
bulging of the eyes
cloudy appearance in the eye
Some breeds including Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Chow Chows, and Siberians can be genetically predisposed to glaucoma.
8. General Injury
Sometimes an everyday injury can cause excessive tearing from your dog’s eye. It can happen easily just by running through vegetation, playing with other dogs, hanging his/her head from a moving vehicle, or catching sand particles at the beach.
At-Home Treatment for Mildly Irritated Eyes
If your dog appears to have dust or debris in and around the eyes, try to gently flush it out with a heavily wetted cloth. Apply gently over the eye and squeeze so that the water washes the debris clear. Allow your dog to blink as the excessive tearing can help wash away the debris as well.
Summing it Up
At the end of the dog, you should always proceed with caution when it comes to your dog’s eyes. Dog-eye boogers are disgusting, and most of the time are just the result of normal oil accumulation.
Anything that causes your dog to have eye pain, redness, itching, swelling, etc., should always be seen by a veterinarian.
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References and Resources
References and Resources
Becker, M. (2011, July 5). Treating Allergies in Dogs . Vetstreet.
Brown, J. (2018, October 24). Dog Eye Discharge – What’s Normal and What’s Not . Law’s
Eye Care for Animals. (2021). Eyelid Entropion and Ectropion . Eye Care for Animals.
Flowers, A. (2019, April 28). Dog Eye Discharge Causes and Treatments. WebMD.
Gilman, H. (2020, May 4). Dog Eye Gunk-What Is It, How You Should Clean It, and When to
Get Worried . The Dog People by Rover.com. https://www.rover.com/blog/dog-eye-gunk/.
PetMD Editorial. (2020, February 13). 5 Types of Dog Eye Discharge (and What They Mean) .
Ward, E. (2020). Corneal Ulcers in Dogs . vca_corporate.