For many pet owners, seeing dog eye discharge can raise questions and even concern. Why is this happening? Is this something serious? Can this problem be addressed with something as simple as eye drops, or is this a bigger issue that’ll involve more extensive medical care?
Eye discharge in dogs is, in many cases, nothing to be overly worried about. In other instances, though, it can be a sign of potential eye problems.
Here’s a look at some of the possible causes of this issue. If it’s something that needs medical attention, your vet can help get your beloved pooch back to normal as quickly as possible.
Info For Pet Parents: What You Need To Know About Different Kinds Of Dog Eye Discharge
It can be jarring to look over at your pup one day and all of a sudden see tear stains or another type of dog eye discharge. But a lot of times, this is actually normal.
Some canine breeds experience dog eye discharge on a regular basis. Do you have a Bulldog or a Pug? These are what are known as brachycephalic breeds. Brachycephalic dogs are known for their short snouts and big eyes. They sometimes experience discharge simply due to the way they’re built, so to speak.1
In addition to your dog’s genetics, their diet may also contribute to their eye health. A high-quality diet can go a long way in ensuring your pets overall health — which includes the health of their eyes and their vision.2
A little bit of clear discharge is normal in these and many other breeds. But if you see anything else that seems abnormal with your pet’s eyes, including your pup constantly pawing at their eyes, you may want to consider a trip to the vet’s office.
Normal Dog Eye Discharge: Is It Normal?
A few tears are actually good for your dog’s eyes. They help deliver nutrients to the cornea and also keep the eyes clear of dirt and other debris. Sometimes, though, these tears don’t drain properly. That’s when you might see a little dry, crusty material in the corner of the eye. This is harmless, and can easily be gently removed with a damp cloth.
You might notice that your dog’s eyes are watering a little more than usual. As long as the eyes otherwise appear normal, and your dog’s behavior hasn’t changed, then you probably don’t need to worry about it. Your pet may have just encountered a little dust or pollen the last time they were in the backyard or out on a walk with you. If, on the other hand, you notice eye redness and excessive tearing, and your pet seems to be in discomfort, you may want to call the vet to be safe.
Eye Discharge In Dogs That Can Be A Sign Of Eye Problems: Check Dogs’ Eyes For Redness Or Irritation
These are just a few of the conditions associated with eye discharge in dogs, and the signs your dog may need medical attention.
This issue affects a membrane in the eye known as the conjunctiva. This membrane contains cells that secrete mucus. It not only protects the eyelids, it also covers the surface of the eye itself. When these membranes become swollen and take on a reddish color, that’s a sign of conjunctivitis.
One of the most telling signs of this condition is yellowish-green dog eye discharge. Other signs include redness and swelling around the eyes, and squinting. You might also notice your pet blinking a lot more than normal. Sometimes, conjunctivitis will affect only one eye, but it will usually affect both. Your pet may also cough, sneeze, or have discharge coming from the nose.3
Your vet can determine the cause of your pet’s conjunctivitis and determine the best way to address the problem.
If your dog has a bright red fold in the corner of their eye, this could be due to a condition known as cherry eye. You see, dogs actually have three eyelids. Two of them are in the lower portion of the eye.4
This “extra” eyelid is also known as a nictitating membrane, which has a gland that produces tears. In some instances, it will pop out, or prolapse. Cherry eye can be very small, or it can nearly cover the entire eye. If you notice something out of place like this, it may be a good idea to call your vet.
Corneal ulcers are a result of erosion of the cornea. It will typically result in a cloudy appearance to the eye due to fluid accumulating in a layer of the cornea known as the stroma. Discharge may also accumulate in the corner of the eye. A corneal ulcer is one of the most serious dog eye problems. Not only is it very painful, but it can also lead to permanent damage.
There are a lot of reasons why corneal ulcers develop. It could be due to an injury, coming into contact with a chemical, or a cat scratch.5
A canine eye infection is also nothing to ignore. Like conjunctivitis, an infection can lead to a yellow-green discharge from your dog’s eyes. Redness and excessive crusting may also occur. There are a few breeds that are more prone to eye infections than others. These include Pugs, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Shih-Tzus.6
Glaucoma develops due to a buildup of pressure inside the eye. The ciliary body is a portion of the eye that holds the lens in place. It also produces a substance known as aqueous humor. This substance contains oxygen and other nutrients used throughout the eye.
Excessive aqueous humor typically drains away. As long as there’s a good balance between the amount of aqueous humor that is produced and the amount that’s drained, pressure in the eye remains where it should. When that balance is disrupted, however, glaucoma can develop. It’s important to reduce this pressure so that permanent damage doesn’t occur. Watery discharge, cloudy eyes, and pawing at the eyes are potential signs of this condition.7
Concerned About Your Dog’s Eyes? Take Them Into Their Veterinarian
You obviously never want anything to happen to your dog’s beautiful eyes. Check them often to make sure there’s not a problem. Occasional clear discharge shouldn’t be a big deal — just wipe their eyes with a damp cloth and then dab dry with a cotton ball or a separate cloth.
If something looks strange, however, don’t hesitate to get medical help for your pet. Eye problems can progress rapidly in some cases, so something that looks minor may be serious the next. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your furry friend. Their vision might just depend on your fast action.
1 O’Neill DG, Lee MM, Brodbelt DC, Church DB, Sanchez RF. Corneal ulcerative disease in dogs under primary veterinary care in England: epidemiology and clinical management. Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, 2017 4:5. doi: 10.1186/s40575-017-0045-5
2 Wang, W., Hernandez, J., Moore, C., Jackson, J., & Narfström, K. (2016). Antioxidant supplementation increases retinal responses and decreases refractive error changes in dogs. Journal of nutritional science, 5, e18. doi:10.1017/jns.2016.5
3 Kumar, K. Kumari, K. Praveen, P. K., Ganguly, S. (2016). Clinical Management of Conjunctivitis in Dog: A Case Study. Indian Journal of Animal Health 55(2): 167-168.
4 Edelmann, M. L., Miyadera, K., Iwabe, S., & Komáromy, A. M. (2013). Investigating the inheritance of prolapsed nictitating membrane glands in a large canine pedigree. Veterinary ophthalmology, 16(6), 416–422. doi:10.1111/vop.12015.
5 Packer, R., Hendricks, A., & Burn, C. (2015). Impact of Facial Conformation on Canine Health: Corneal Ulceration. PLOS ONE, 10(5), e0123827. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123827.
6 Packer, R. M., Hendricks, A., & Burn, C. C. (2015). Impact of facial conformation on canine health: corneal ulceration. PloS one, 10(5), e0123827. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123827.
7 Miller, P. E., & Bentley, E. (2015). Clinical Signs and Diagnosis of the Canine Primary Glaucomas. The Veterinary clinics of North America. Small animal practice, 45(6), 1183–vi. doi:10.1016/j.cvsm.2015.06.006