Dog Eye Care 101: How to Clean Dog Eye Boogers

Oh, the joys of dog ownership – the wagging tails, the loving licks, and yes, even the occasional battle with dog eye boogers. You know what we're talking about, that stubborn eye discharge clinging to your pup's eyes like an unwanted guest the Sandman left behind. But fear not; we've got the scoop on eye-booger blues and tips on how to keep their eyes clean and healthy.

Recognizing Normal Dog Eye Discharge and When It's Not

First things first. What exactly is this stuff that's cramping your pooch’s style? Dog eye boogers, technically known as ocular discharge, can range from a clear, watery consistency to a thicker, more paste-like substance. It’s your dog's eye and inner layer way of saying, “Hey, I'm just cleaning house here!”

a pug lying on a dog bed

It's good to know what's normal and what's not. A small amount of gunk, typically in the corner of your dog's eye, is usually nothing more than the dog's eyelids and tear ducts doing their job. Normal dog eye discharge is their way of keeping the eyes clean and comfy.

However, if you notice excessive tearing or eye discharge that's not the usual color (think yellow or green instead of clear), this might be a red flag for eye infections or blocked tear ducts. And if there's a visible foreign object, it's time to head to the vet immediately.

Eye Boogers - When Should You Worry?

To keep your pooch’s doggy gaze in tip-top shape and ensure they live their best doggo life, keep a watchful eye out for these less-than-lovely symptoms of abnormal eye discharge:

Watery Eye Discharge - Most often, a bit of dust or pollen is the cause of the irritation to your dog’s eye discharge. 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 its eye against something, there may be more serious causes.

These could include allergies, blocked tear ducts, damage to the cornea, something lodged in the eye, and glaucoma.
Red or Brown Stains Under the Eye - This happens when your dog's eyes produce an overflow of tears that streak down their furry cheeks. It can result in those telltale reddish-brown tracks known as tear stains. Often, these stains are the byproduct of an irregular eye structure.

Toy breeds sporting those adorable, oversized peepers, like the Maltese, Bichon Frise, or Poodle, tend to show these marks more prominently. Yet, it's not unusual among the snub-nosed crew, such as Pugs, whose prominent eyes can make them a common tear-stain showcase.

Whitish Grey Eye Boogers - Excessive white-gray eye gunk from your dog is a clear warning sign. This is usually from inflammation rather than infection. Often occurs due to dry eyes, also known medically as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), which is a frequent culprit.

This condition often stems from an autoimmune issue where a dog's tear-producing glands are attacked. With tears in short supply, the body makes up for it by generating more mucus. Unfortunately, mucus can't do the job tears can, and before you know it, inflammation sets in.

Yellow or Green Eye Boogers - When a yellow-green discharge appears in your dog's eyes, it's a strong signal that infection has taken hold, going beyond mere inflammation. This type of discharge is often accompanied by noticeable redness around the eye area.

It's crucial to regularly clean your dog's eye crust and tear stains to prevent such infections since this reduces the risk of bacteria and fungi setting up camp in those sensitive spots.

Red Discharge - this is very rare and very serious. Bloody discharge could mean injury or even a tumor. Contact your vet immediately.

Tips On How to Keep Your Dog’s Eyes Clean

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Ready to tackle those eye boogers? Here's what you'll need:

  • A clean, soft, lint-free cloth or cotton balls
  • Dog-safe eye wipes or a damp washcloth
  • A fine-toothed comb (for those with longer fur around the eyes)
  • Sterile saline solution (the same kind you'd use for contact lenses)
  • Patience and treats (for the dog, though you might need some patience, too)

And speaking of supplies, while you're keeping those peepers pristine, why not take your dog's style up a notch, too? Click here to snag the comfiest dog collar on the market—because we all know a pampered pooch is a happy pooch!

Step-by-Step: Wipe Away the Dog Eye Crust

Step 1: Prep and Pep Talk

Approach your canine companion calmly – this isn't Mission Impossible, even though it might feel like it. A little prep talk can go a long way: “Who's a good boy? Ready to get those eye boogers?”

Step 2: Gently Wipe Away your Dog’s Eye Gunk

When your dog's eye area gets a bit goopy, you might be inclined to give it a quick wipe. However, it's important to do it correctly to ensure your furry friend's comfort and safety. You'll need a few items: cotton balls, rounds, squares, and a bottle of saline (vet-approved, of course).

Before you start, moisten the cotton ball with the saline solution. Then, gently press the damp cotton onto your dog's eyelids. Hold it there for a moment or two; this will help soften any crusty discharge that's built up.

When you notice the discharge is loosening, take the cotton ball and softly wipe the gunk away. If you find that your dog's eye is sticky and nearly glued shut from the discharge, don't worry. You may just need to repeat the softening process a few times to clear it all out. For tougher cases, applying a warm, damp washcloth over the eye can be an effective alternative to loosen up those stubborn crusts.

Now, we all know some pups can be a little fussy when it comes to eye care. If your dog would rather skip the spa treatment, a distraction can work wonders. Spread some peanut butter onto a lick mat or their favorite chew toy. As they indulge in the tasty treat, they'll focus less on the eye-cleaning process. This way, you can tend to their needs without too much wriggling.

And since we're already helping your dog to look and feel their best, let's not forget about their wardrobe. As you care for their eyes, consider upgrading their look with some stylish gear. Click here to explore the latest in comfy dog hoodies. 

Step 3: Check for Eye Health Red Flags

Post-wipe, take a moment to examine your dog's eyes. Look out for any signs of excess discharge, tear stains, or if they seem to be in discomfort. If something looks off, it's better to consult your vet before it becomes a bigger issue.

Like us, some dog breeds are like the A-listers of eye issues, with more encore performances of irritation, infections, and excess discharge than you'd care for.

Here are the usual suspects:

  • The sheepdogs with their luscious locks falling across their eyes
  • Those posh poodles with their fancy fur dos
  • The dainty Maltese flaunting their angelic white coats
  • The beloved squishy-faced Pugs
  • The ever-so-fluffy Shih Tzus
  • The eternally bemused Bulldogs

Step 4: Keep Those Peepers Peeping

Routine eye care is essential, particularly for breeds prone to tear stains or with lush lashes like the flat-faced dog breeds. Use eye drops if recommended by your vet for excessive tearing, and keep those adorable tear ducts unclogged.

It’s equally crucial to keep the fur trimmed around a dog’s eyes, especially if they have long hair in the inner corner of their lids. This hair drains away tears onto the face. It can cause tear stains but also provides a moist environment for bacteria and yeast infections to flourish. 


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Is using over-the-counter human eye drops to clean my dog's eye boogers safe?

It is imperative to avoid using human eye drops or any medication intended for humans when treating your dog’s eye boogers, as these products are not formulated for dogs and could potentially harm your pet or exacerbate the issue. Always seek veterinary advice for appropriate treatments for your canine companion.

Can I use my fingers to remove dog eye gunk?

Using your fingers to remove gunk from your dog's eyes is generally not recommended due to the potential for introducing bacteria or causing irritation. Instead, opt for a cleaner and safer method using a soft, damp cloth, cotton ball,

 gauze pad moistened with warm water, or a veterinarian-approved saline solution. Gently wipe away the discharge from the corner of the eye outward, being careful not to touch the eye's surface.

Wrapping It Up with a Bow (wow)

There you have it, a guide to dealing with dog eye boogers – because we all want our pups to see the world through sparkling, clean eyes. Just remember to be gentle, keep grooming consistent, and always be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.s