It can be common for you dog to have some discharge from his eyes. In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about, but occasionally it can be a sign that there’s something more serious wrong with him. There are ways that you can help your dog deal with discharge from his eyes.
Types Of Discharge
Before you start cleaning your dogs eyes, you should figure out which type of discharge he has. There’s a few main types of eye discharge.
Crust Or Goopy Discharge
You may notice some crust or a jelly-like goop substance in the inner corner of your dog’s eyes. This is coming from the tear ducts. Tear ducts are actually really important in terms of keeping the eyes healthy. They provide oxygen to the cornea, and remove any build up of debris. The tears drain out of the tear ducts, but sometimes there will be a crust or goop. This is made up of the debris such as dried tears, dust, dead cells, mucus, oils, etc. You’ll probably notice it more in the morning, or after your dog has had a nap. Generally speaking, this is entirely normal, and is easily removed. You can wipe it away with a warm, dampened cloth. If you notice that your dog’s eyes are red, or he shows signs of eye discomfort, or he has more crust or goop than usual, then you may need to call your veterinarian.
Watery, Clear Discharge
Clear watery discharge can be a sign of many different conditions. Some are harmless, and some are more serious. The medical name for excessive watery eye is epiphora, and common causes include allergies, irritants, foreign bodies, blocked tear ducts, injuries to the cornea, anatomical abnormalities, and glaucoma. If there’s no signs of pain, discomfort or other symptoms, then you may want to monitor the situation for a short period of time before consulting your veterinarian. If there are other symptoms, or if your dog develops other types of discharge in addition to the watery discharge, then you should take him to see his veterinarian as soon as possible.
Red-Brown Tear Stains
If your dog is light colored then you may notice some red-brown tear stains in the corner of his eyes. In most cases, this is nothing to worry about, and will only affect your dog cosmetically. This happens because tears have a pigment called porphyrin, which turns a red-brown color after prolonged exposure to air. As long as there are no other symptoms, then this is nothing to worry about, and can simply be wiped away with a warm, damp cloth, or an eye cleaning solution. However, it may take several months for the staining to be completely gone.
Yellow Or Green Eye Discharge
Yellow, or green discharge from your dog’s eyes can be a sign of an eye infection. You should also look for signs of redness, and discomfort. Eye infections can have a few causes, but they can also be a sign of an underlying condition. Other conditions such as corneal wounds, dry eyes, and more can weaken the immune system, and allow infection to take hold. Sometimes dogs who have other systemic illnesses or issues with the respiratory tract, nervous system or other parts of the body can present with what looks like an eye infection. You should contact your veterinarian for an appointment.
Gray-white mucus can be a symptom of a condition called keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or KCS. The immune system attacks the tear producing glands. This makes the tear production abnormal, so the body will try to compensate by making more mucus to keep the eyes lubricated. However, mucus and tears can’t do the same jobs, so the eyes can become red, painful, and can develop ulcers. If KCS goes untreated, it can result in severe pain, and eventually blindness.
A vet can test for KCS using a simple procedure called a Schirmer Tear Test. Most of the time, KCS responds to medications such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus or artificial tears. In cases where the medical treatment has been unsuccessful then the veterinarian may need to carry out an operation that will redirect saliva to the eye, but this is only necessary in cases where the condition can’t be treated with medication.
How To Clean Discharge From Your Dog’s Eyes
You may be tempted to use your fingers to wipe any discharge away from your dog’s eyes, but you should try not to. The eyes are a very sensitive area, and you could end up only causing more irritation. Instead, you should use a clean, damp towel to gently wipe away any discharge.
You might also want to think about using specially formulated dog eye drops. They will help lubricate the eye, and can help remove any foreign bodies that could be causing the irritation. You should also make sure that the hair around your dogs eyes is kept neat and trimmed. Some owners recommend using a dog eye comb, which can be used to gently comb the hair around the eyes. This is particularly useful for keeping any chemicals away from the eyes themselves. You may also want to use a dog tear stain removal. These can be very effective at removing the reddish brown tear stains around your dogs eyes. You will need to follow the instructions carefully, and incorporate it into your usual grooming routine.
The best way to deal with harmless eye discharge is to make removing it part of your dog’s regular grooming routine. The eyes are sensitive, and some dogs are particularly keen on having the area groomed, but routine, and treats can help. If you are worried, or your dog shows signs of unusual discharge, then you can call your veterinarian for an appointment or advice. You vet may even be able to recommend products that you could use, or ways to help your dog get used to having his eye area groomed.