Boogers are not a good look, on both humans or dogs. And you must have noticed this unwelcome eye gunk in your dog, which brought you back to the question, “why do dogs get eye boogers?”
Dog eye boogers are caused by dried tears or dust particles and pollen floating in the air. It’s their eyes flushing out dust after a long night’s sleep.
Basically they ‘woke up like this’.
But while you can chill on the eye gunk, there can be some serious implications for dogs that we need to focus on.
What Causes Dog Eye Boogers?
Like us, dogs have eye discharge in the morning hours or if anything is affecting their eye.
Tears are a healthy way of removing debris, dust particles, and to keep eyes hydrated and dust free. It’s also a crucial way to good dog health care. Anytime your dog has eye gunk, know that it’s the tear glands flushing out unwanted guests and keeping the eyes hydrated.
And there are definitely moments when your dog’s sad or being dramatic. Basically rolling in the deep, getting the tears flowing.
But that’s a different story.
Most eye boogers occur right after your dog wakes up from a nap. While getting a souvenir from the Sandman is nothing abnormal, sometimes you may notice symptoms such as dry eyes, pink eye, itching, skin irritation near the eyes or excessive pawing of the eyes to rub it.
Now THAT can be an issue.
Usually, allergies, anatomical abnormalities (bulging eyes and whatnot), irritants like dust, pollen, grass, etc. can cause infections in the eye. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you should definitely reach out to a veterinarian.
Types of Dog Eye Discharge
Dog eye boogers come in various colors, each with its own tale. Even when it sounds cute, dog eye gunk is no joke. Before we self-administer anything, let’s understand what each booger means:
1. Clear and watery eye discharge
This seems to be the most common one and can easily be mistaken as something you don’t need to worry about. While it’s not as serious as the other eye boogers, you should still use a clean saline solution and gauze to keep your dog’s eye clean everyday.
Clear and watery eye discharge is caused by pollen, dust, grass, blocked tear ducts, blunt trauma, or anything that directly impacts the surface of the eye. Usually dog breeds with eyelids that roll in, such as Mastiffs, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, or Basset Hounds, etc. can have this condition.
2. Dark red/brown eye discharge
Unlike people, boogers don’t discriminate. Dark red or brown eye boogers are present in dogs that have chronic tearing due to the structure of their eye socket or blocked tear duct.
When you’re cleaning a dog with a lighter color, you may notice the brown eye strains as they’re quite visible. On darker colored dogs, when you wipe their eyes, a brownish or reddish tint might come off. That straining is due to porphyrin, which is a compound found in tears that reacts with oxygen.
3. Excessive eye discharge
Excessive boogers are not a good look. Neither on dogs or on us.
So when you notice excessive boogers in your dog, understand that the eyelids are affected and they do not possess normal tear ducts, hence, preventing the natural drainage process. You might notice symptoms like excessive itching, pawing, or irritation due to extra eyelashes or their eyelids rolling in and rubbing on the cornea.
These eye boogers are identifiable by the rust coloring, which rolls out from their eyes to near the snout. White dogs are more prone to this look.
4. Green or yellow eye discharge
Out of all the dog eye discharge, this is the most painful. Usually caused by bacterial infections in the eye, these boogers accumulate on eyelids and dry out the eyes, inviting further infections.
Often seen in corneal ulcers, infected conjunctivitis or wounds in the eye, they need to be treated medically to alleviate the pain. The second you start noticing any symptoms of this, consult your vet immediately for antibiotics.
5. White eye discharge
Kinda the typical dog eye booger. White boogers or discharge are also caused by irritants, abnormalities or allergies, besides inflammation of the tissues around the eye, dry eye, or conjunctivitis.
These boogers cause the eye to dry out, prevent the dog from making normal tears, and coming out as discharge. You should definitely consult your vet for recommendations to treat this.
Common Causes of Dog Eye Boogers
From allergies to dry eye to excessive watery eye discharge, there can be a whole load of reasons for dog eye boogers. We’ll break the list down into the most common ones:
Dogs are basically us, but much nicer. So obviously, pollen, dust, etc. etc. impact their eyes the same way.
You can notice symptoms like itchy, runny eyes (eye discharge), red or irritated skin, and excessive pawing by your dog. Usually breeds like Setters, Retrievers, Terriers, or dogs with flat faces like Pugs and Bulldogs are more predisposed to this condition.
Pink eye is just the worst. And dogs can get it too!
Appearing as excessive redness in the eye, you will notice inflammation, squinting or crusty eyes, with clear or pus like eye boogers coming out. Conjunctivitis is caused by dry eye, distemper, allergies, irritants or physical deformities in the eye (tear duct issues)(article).
While you should consult a vet for treatment, make sure to be careful. Because guess what?
It is transmittable to humans.
Epiphora is the excessive tearing up of the eyes, almost overflowing with them. Kinda looks like your dog’s always crying.
You can look out for symptoms such as excessive wetness around the eyes, brown staining underneath the eyes, a smelly odor, and skin irritation (article). It can be caused by allergies, ulcers, tumors, or anything obstructing the tear duct.
While it is easier to spot it on lighter colored breeds, the discharge is brown in darker colored breeds. You might need to consult a vet as epiphora might require surgery for treatment.
4. Dry eye
The exact opposite to producing tears. Dry eye is the inability to produce enough tears (study).
Your dog looks super angry, but it’s just the infection staring at you.
When your dog’s tear gland is infected or experiences trauma, they get dry eyes. Symptoms that you can look out for include yellowish booger or discharge, excessive blinking, and swelling of the eyelids.
Due to painful irritants, they blink a lot. Their cornea may also develop ulcers as there’s no lubrication.
Causes may include injury, birth defects, distemper and attack by the dog’s immune system. To tackle the crusty eyes dog problem, you need to use a water-based or oil-based lubricant for eye moisture and immunosuppressant drugs to stop the body’s attack on the immune system.
Additionally, you should see a vet as this condition can be incredibly chronic and painful.
Dog’s get glaucoma when there’s pressure put on the eye, causing inadequate drainage of tears.
These can be of 2 types-
- Primary Glaucoma: This is when the eye is unable to drain and liquid is backed up in the eye.
- Secondary Glaucoma: Infections caused by trauma such as pressure or cancer, which physically block tear drainage.
You’ll find your dog blinking excessively, with high pressure on their eyes, clouded eyes, dilated pupils or building eyes. This condition is quite serious and can cause vision loss (study). You should consult a vet.
While breeds such as Chow Chows, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, etc. are more predisposed to this, know that this is quite a common condition in senior dogs.
6. Dog breed
Your dog’s breed can also decide the type of eye boogers they may be prone to.
Whether their eyelids roll inwards, droop a lot or “pop” out a lot tells you about how you need to care for them.
Breeds like Retrievers, Basset Hounds, Pugs or Pekingese, etc. would have different eye infections and needs. Whatever be the issue, understand that eyelids should not be on the surface of the eyeball and your dog should be able to close them.
If you see something amiss, reach out to a vet.
Home Remedies to Treat Dog Eye Discharge
While you’re waiting on your vet, there are a few dog eye infections home remedies that can provide preventive care to soothe eye problems. However, it is advisable to call your vet for reference and what suits your dog the best.
Recommended home remedies include:
1. Chamomile tea
Is there anything a cup of tea can’t fix?
Besides putting you to bed, chamomile tea has amazing anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties which can decrease inflammation. The best way to use it is by boiling the tea bag (you can drink the tea), allowing it to cool outside and setting the damp bag over your dog’s eye.
An ideal situation would be to hold it in place for 15 minutes and 3-4 times a day to soothe the eye.
2. Cod liver oil
We’re well aware of the fact that vitamins are a crucial part of a healthy life.
Of these, Vitamin A can actually aid in corneal healing for dogs with ulcers. The simplest way is to add 1 drop to the infected eye everyday till it’s better.
Not only is this gift from nature yummy, it is also a natural antibacterial agent that stunts the growth of infection causing bacteria and heals wounds (study).
However, not any store bought honey would do. You need to ensure that it is raw and unprocessed to avoid sugar additives, which can cause discomfort to the affected area.
4. Saline solution
This is an easy diy remedy. All you need is sterile water and salt. You can use the solution as an eye wash to clear away boogers and to clean the affected area. Be sure to use a clean gauze every time to avoid further infection.
5. Apple cider vinegar
Vinegar is definitely a go-to household ingredient.
With its antibacterial and antifungal properties, you can easily combat your dog’s eye infection. Similar to the saline solution, you can make an eyewash out of it, by using 4-5 drops of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and 2 drops that have been boiled and cooled to room temperature.
This solution can be applied 2-3 times a day to the dog’s eye for mild infections.
6. Aloe vera gel
Summers and aloe vera are made for each other. So it’s only normal for its gel to have anti-inflammation properties.
You can easily get a stem from the aloe vera plant and use its gel as a moisturizing agent for the infected eye. Keep applying it onto your dog’s eye a few times a day till the issue subsides. Your dog would be relieved with the cooling effect too!
7. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is one of the best remedies for dog eye funk that you can use.
Being a natural and unprocessed product, it’s gentle on the skin. Simply apply a small amount of coconut oil onto a cotton ball and wipe it over your dog’s eyes. You’ll be done removing all the gunk gently in record time!
Grooming your dog makes them fabulous AND it can safeguard them against eye infections too! Whaaat?
Long eyelashes touching the eyeball can be an irritant that dog’s hate. Besides, breeds such as Poodles, Havanese, Chow Chows, Collies, etc. need haircuts and trimming every now and then. Even when you use shampoos and conditioners, you need to ensure these don’t irritate the eye.
Alternatively, you can monitor your dog daily for any issues. Check their pupils to ensure they are of the same size.
9. Eye drops
If you notice abnormalities like bulging, excessive tearing, protruding, etc. go to the vet ASAP. If your vet recommends ointments or eye drops, learn the right way to administer them.
You need to lift up your dog’s eyelids to administer eye drops, while ointment usage requires the need to make contact with the full surface of the eye. Best way to do this is by applying the ointment onto the infected area, closing their eyelids and gently massaging it so it can spread to cover all of the eye surface.
Dog eye boogers are mostly due to allergies, irritants, distemper, or anatomical abnormalities. The color of the booger or discharge will tell you what is the root cause of the infection or how serious it is.
While home remedies like applying saline solution, coconut oil, chamomile tea, aloe vera gel, apple cider vinegar eye wash, etc. exist, you definitely need to consult a veterinarian before medicating them. Besides, dog breeds play a HUGE role in what type of eye boogers a dog might have.
Eyes that roll inwards, are droopy or ‘pop’ out are something to be considered when looking for dog eye care. Although getting eye boogers aren’t out of the ordinary, preventive measures can absolutely help prevent serious issues like vision loss.
Cleaning or medicating eye boogers can be uncomfortable for dogs, so be sure to add in lots of pats and kisses afterwards!
Frequently Asked Questions
Dog eyes boogers often come in various colors which denotes their health or infection. Red, brown, green, yellow, or excessive pus filled clear boogers can be a sign that your dog’s eye is infected. You can also notice symptoms where your dog’s eyes are excessively tearing up, protruding, itching, or they are continuously pawing at it, etc. you need to consult a vet.
When your dog has eye boogers, it means that they might have an infection. Excessively wet eyes, dry eyes, or green, yellow, brown and red colored eye boogers signify that their eyes are infected or that you need to consult a vet. One of the simplest ways for prevention is to monitor your dog’s eyes daily and to keep them clean.
To keep your dog’s eye free from discharge you can clean them with a saline solution and clean gauze after their naps. Besides this there are other solutions such as using chamomile tea bags, aloe vera gel, cod liver oil, etc. that keeps their eyes clean and hydrated from eye infections.
No amount of eye boogers is a good place to start. While dogs normally get eye boogers after naps, the best way to prevent eye boogers and infections is to monitor their eyes and to use a saline solution and clean gauze daily to wash them. You can also opt for dog-eye friendly eyewashes that can easily be made at home or use aloe vera gel.
No. Eye boogers do not mean your dog is crying. It simply means that their eyes are flushing out unwanted debris, dust particles, etc. to keep their eyes clean. Additionally, eye boogers can also signify the ocular status for your dog and whether they have any eye infections that need consultation with an expert.