Have you ever wiped something gunky out of your dog’s eye and wondered whether or not it was supposed to be there? You’re not alone.

Well, doggie boogers or eye discharge is common in dogs. It can be a sign of something serious or just allergies. Most dogs experience eye discharge because of dirt or dust getting into their eye, which is normal. Some may experience allergic eye drainage, which is also normal. What isn’t normal is when yellowish discharge starts to form or you notice physical changes to the eye itself – whether it’s starting to cloud, bulge or push itself back into the skull.


Throughout the day, dogs accumulate debris in their eyes and it’s their body’s natural response to clean it out. Each time your pup blinks, tears are released to provide protection and get rid of any irritation, like a piece of fur. According to Dr. Brittany Cartlidge from Atlas Vet DC, dogs’ eyes are naturally coated with tears to protect from infection and remove debris. Some breeds tend to have more discharge than others, which is not necessarily a medical problem. Many dogs suffer from allergies and like people, they experience an increase in eye discharge along with possible redness. Cartlidge says flushing the eye out with over the counter sterile eye wash can give them some relief.

1. Allergies

Like humans, dogs experience everyday things like grass, pollen and dust that their bodies may think are dangerous, leading to a physical reaction, like eye discharge. Even though the dust at the dog park is okay, for your pup it may be a problem causing allergen when it’s inhaled, ingested or comes in contact with the dog’s skin. According to PetMD, breeds like Terriers, Setters, Retrievers and dogs with flat faces like Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers are prone to allergies.

Dogs can be allergic to numerous things. Anything from grass and pollen to the material their Kong is made out of. Some common symptoms that your dog is experiencing allergies are:

  • Itchy, runny eyes (eye discharge)
  • Red or irritated skin
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Snoring (if they don’t usually snore)
  • Excessive scratching
  • Paw chewing/ Swollen paws

2. Conjunctivitis (aka pink eye)

Some eye boogers are different from common eye discharge and those just-waking-up eye boogers. If you notice your dog has clear or pus-like eye boogers or excessive redness in and around the eye, get it checked out by your vet – it could be conjunctivitis. Bacterial or viral pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. According to PetMD, the conjunctiva is the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. Watch for red eyes, inflammation, pawing at the eyes, squinting or crusty eyes.


3. Epiphora

Be on the lookout for excessively teary eyes, which is known as epiphora. Epiphora means the eyes overflow with tears, according to VCA Hospitals . A few signs of epiphora are excess wetness around the eyes, brown staining underneath the eyes, a smelly odor, or skin irritation. This is more noticeable in breeds with lighter colored fur. But if you wipe your dark colored pup’s eye and the discharge is brown, keep an eye on them and schedule an appointment with your vet. Try to figure out the cause for the excess drainage, whether it’s allergies, conjunctivitis, a previous eye injury or something else.

4. Keratoconjunctivits Sicca (KCS)

Next up on the eye discharge list is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) also known as dry eye – the inability to produce enough tears.  Dry eye happens when the tear gland has gotten infected or has experienced trauma. Dry eye symptoms are yellowish discharge, inflammation around the eye, and excessive blinking or swelling of the eyelids. The cornea is at great risk which can lead to eye infections or corneal damage. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet, as KCS can cause loss of vision.

If you are unsure if you’re dog has KCS, here is a picture and more in-depth information.

5. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is when pressure is put on the eye causing inadequate drainage of ocular fluid. According to PetMD, some breeds like Poodles, Chow Chow’s, and Cocker Spaniel’s are predisposed to glaucoma. There are two types of glaucoma in dogs – primary and secondary. Primary glaucoma is when the eye is unable to drain, causing fluid to get backed up in the eye. Secondary glaucoma is when some sort of trauma has occurred to the eye, such as inflammation or cancer of the eye, which physically blocks drainage. With glaucoma, be on the look out for excessive blinking, the eye bulging, high pressure on the eye, clouded eyes, dilated pupils or vision loss. Get your pup to the vet as soon as possible and have the ocular pressures checked to determine further treatment.

For more information and detailed pictures, check out Animal Eye Care.

To help your canine companion with drainage, keep the hair around their eyes trimmed. If you have a long-haired dog or they have pesky hairs around their eyes, ask your groomer to trim the area. Use caution with things that could irritate your dogs eyes like shampoo, flea medication and dust. After the dog park, dampen a towel to clear any type of debris that might be there. Finally, be on the look out if you notice anything irritating your pup.

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