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Dog Eye Boogers Causes (Discharge): What to do

Boogers are common in both human and dogs. They can be a sign of allergy or something serious such as an infection or injury to the eye. Green or yellow continuous eye discharge in your dog accompanied by redness or itchiness is usually a sign of an eye infection and should be examined by a veterinarian.

The eye is naturally coated with a tear film that protects the front eye against infections and help in removal of debris or small foreign materials that cause irritation. While discharge is common in many dogs, some breeds have more discharge than others.

Other than eye nourishment other possible causes of boogers include, allergy, conjunctivitis, epiphora dry eye or glaucoma. Treatment is based on the underlying causes after diagnosis by a vet. You can prevent dog eye boogers through good grooming habits, regular eye checkups and keeping off eye irritants.

What are eye boogers?

dog eye boogers
dog eye boogers picture

This is an eye discharge that is made up of a combination of mucus, oil, debris and skin cells that usually accumulates in the eye corner. It is also described as “sleep eyes”, eye pus, eye gunk eye mattering or goopy eyes.

The eye produces mucus continuously which is washed away by a thin film of tear when the eye blinks before it hardens up. Sleeping causes buildup of more eye boogers since the eye is not blinking. They can be crusty, sticky and dry.

Eye discharge serves a protective function of removing dirt debris and other harmful waste products from the eye. Excessive eye discharge may not be normal especially when yellow or green in color. Light sensitivity, eye pain and blurry vision accompanied by discharge can be a sign of an eye infection.

What Causes Dog Eye Discharge?

  1. Allergies

Dust, pollen, grass and dirt debris and too much light can lead to eye irritation and hence discharge. Allergens can affect your pet when they come into contact with the skin, inhaled, ingested or get into the eyes.

Some breeds such as Terriers, Bulldogs, Pugs, Setters and Retrievers are prone to allergens. Symptoms may go away on their own or may require treatment by the vet. Common allergy symptoms to watch include the following:

  • Eye boogers (green or yellow discharge)
  • Itchy runny eye (watery)
  • Red or pink eye
  • Excessive scratching of the eye due to irritation
  • Dog sneezing a lot
  • Paw chewing or licking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  1. Dry Eye

This is the inability to produce enough eye-cleansing tears. This is mainly due infected tear gland or trauma. A sticky or crusty eye boogers could pint that canine pet dry eye. Symptoms include:

  • Dry eye discharge
  • Yellowish mucus
  • Inflammation around the eye
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Excessive blinking

Corneal damage, eye infection and even blindness are the effects of untreated dry eye. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from this condition, do not hesitate to see a vet.

  1. Epiphora (excessive tearing)

This is a watery eye condition that causes the eyes to overflow with tears. Signs include continuous wetness around the eye, brown staining underneath eyes, skin irritation and a smelly odor. Epiphora is common in breeds with light colored fur. Take your pet to a vet if you suspect this condition.

  1. Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Dog eye boogers could be due to an inflammation of the lining of the dog’s eye. Signs include:

  • Discharge: Clear watery or mucous discharge that is yellowish or green is produced by the eye.
  • Squinting: This is excessive blinking due to the eye feeling irritated.
  • Red swollen eyelids: The eyelids gets puffy and swollen especially after waking up.
  • Eyelids sticking together: This is caused by production of sticky discharge within the eye.
  • Pawing at eye: The eyes feel irritated and urge to scratch
  • Crustiness: Inflammation and scratching can cause crusty scab around the eye
  • Can affect one or both eyes depending on the causes
  • Pink eye in dogs can also associate other symptoms such as nasal discharge, sneezing a lot or coughing.

There are various causes of conjunctivitis based on the following types:

  • Viral conjunctivitis can mainly be caused by cold, upper respiratory infection or sore throat. It is considered contagious since it can spread easily.
  • Bacterial infections such as strep or staph infection. It is highly contagious and therefore need to treatment.
  • Allergy and environmental irritants such as pollen, dust, scratching and more
  • Related eye problems such as dry eye, tumors and inflammation of the tear duct among others
  • Defect of the eyelashes or eyelids (abnormal)

Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and should be treated early enough. The vet will have to determine the cause before establishing a treatment such as removal of the irritant, antibiotics for bacterial infections, painkillers, antihistamines for allergies, saline washes and surgery to correct tear problem or tumor.

  1. Glaucoma

This is when there is inadequate drainage of the ocular fluid caused when pressure is put on the eye. Two types of this condition are primary and secondary glaucoma respectively. Primary glaucoma occurs when the eye is unable to drain while secondary when the eye drainage is physically blocked by a trauma such as cancer or inflammation.

Signs include excessive blinking, clouded eyes, eye bulging, dilated pupils and eye boogers. Glaucoma need to be treated as soon as possible you discover the symptoms. Take your pup to a vat for diagnosis and treatment.

Poor Grooming

Poor grooming habits can also be a reason for your dog’s eye gunk. This is especially for breeds with long and wiry hair around the eyes and face. The hair is likely to get into the eyes hence causing an irritation. The hairs can also trap some dirt and oils around the eyes and as a result an irritation that leads to severe boogers.

How do you get rid of eye boogers on dogs?

Removing the gunk from the eye not only make your pet appear smart but is also a way of making her feel comfortable. Here is what to do:

  1. Try to determine what causes dog eye boogers. This can be done by the help of your vet.
  2. Obtain a warm damp washcloth or sponge and clean the gunk. Do not use soap or shampoo.
  3. Make several gentle strokes without putting pressure around the eye.
  4. A vet may recommend use of a sterile pet eye solution if your dog is suffering from an eye infection or has an eye condition.

What to use to clean your dog’s eye

To help your dog with the eye discharge problem, always keep the hair around the eyes trimmed. Groom the long pesky hairs around the eyes to minimize cases of stickiness around the eyes. Be careful while using shampoo or flea medication or while taking your pooch for a walk in dust areas.

To clean your dog’s eye discharge, simply use distilled warm water and a towel. Dampen a piece of towel in warm water and clear the discharge around the eye without causing any irritation to the eye. Talk to your vet on the best thing to do and let your dog be diagnosed if discharge persist.

Types of Eye Dog Eye Discharge and their meaning

  1. Clear and watery eye discharge: This could be due to a number of conditions that range from benign to serious. Commonly caused by allergies, foreign objects in the dog’s eye, irritants and trauma such as blocked tear duct, corneal injury among others.
  2. Reddish brown tear stains: This is a stain commonly found below the inner corner of the eye. The pigmentation of the tear causes discoloration of the fur around this area. This should not be a cause of concern and the best way to deal with it is maintain good grooming habits. Clean the stain on a weekly basis using a warm dampen cloth and also keep the fur around the eyes trimmed short.
  3. Yellow/Green discharge: This is mainly a symptom of an eye infection and usually accompanies other symptoms such as discomfort and redness. Eye infection could also be as a result of an underlying primary condition such dry eye or pink eye.
  4. White-Grey Mucus: Mucus is commonly produced by the eye but is dissolved by the tear. When the amount of tear production is low, white-gray mucus is an evident that your pet has dry eyes condition mainly caused by blocked tear duct or infected tear gland.
  5. Crust/boogers: This is a thick paste like substance you will commonly see formed in the corner of the eyes especially in the morning. Usually formed as a result of eye nourishment process where tear helps in cleansing and removing debris, oils and dead skin cells from the corner. It is normal to see this kind of discharge in your dog as long as it is not accompanied by other symptoms such as red eye or discomfort.

How to Prevent Dog Eye Discharge and other problems

  1. Keep your dog’s face and eyes clean by washing
  2. Trim short the hair around the eyes.
  3. Keep your pet off places with too much dust.
  4. See a vet as soon you discover your pet has eye problems
  5. Provide a nutritional diet to strengthen the immune system.


Dog eye problems can cause a lot of discomfort. The best way to deal with boogers is to understand what causes them. A veterinarian is the best person to diagnose your pet and suggest a treatment.

Additional Resources

Discharge From a Dog’s Eyes: pets.webmd.com

5 Types of Dog Eye Discharge: petmd.com

How to Prevent Dog Eye Boogers: wagwalking.com

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