When should I be concerned about my dogs eye discharge? Essential Tips

Abnormal eye leakage might signal a dog eye infection or other issues.

“The presence of ocular discharge is a non-specific sign,” Dr. Kimmitt says. “This means that it can be caused by a variety of ocular disorders. Common causes of dog eye discharge include ulcers, entropion, keratoconjunctivitis sicca and conjunctivitis (allergic or bacterial).” A corneal ulcer is damage to the cornea, which is the clear membrane that covers the iris and pupil.

Entropion is a condition in which the eyelid rolls inward, causing eyelashes to rub against the cornea. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (called dry eye) is dryness of the conjunctiva, which is membrane that covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis (sometimes called pink eye) is inflammation of the eye. A vet exam and tests can pinpoint the cause of your dog’s abnormal eye discharge.

Certain breeds are prone to dog eye discharge.

Brachycephalic dog breeds like Pugs and Boxers might have slightly more eye leakage than other breeds due to the combination of a short nose and large, round eyes. In these breeds, some dog eye discharge might be normal, especially if it’s clear, but abnormal dog eye boogers deserve a vet visit.

Poodles and Cocker Spaniels are more prone to blocked tear ducts, too. Usually, these ducts drain the tears from your dog’s eyes out through the nose and back of the throat. With the tear ducts blocked, there’s nowhere for the tears to drain, so they spill over the eye rims and run down the face.

When It’s Time to Call the Vet

If your pup is rubbing or scratching at her eyes, or if they appear red, painful, or swollen, its worth a trip to the vet to assess the situation. “The first step is seeing your veterinarian and pursuing referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist if the doctor deems it appropriate,” Vygantas says.

Because of the range of underlying causes, its important to get a correct diagnosis and determine the most efficient treatment plan. “A thorough eye exam, including measurement of tear production, intraocular pressure, and checking for possible corneal abrasions, usually determines the cause of chronic discharge,” Vygantas says. “Targeted therapy toward the underlying cause of the eye irritation is essential in managing and reducing the discharge.”

Because there is a range of causes of dog eye infections, theres a range of treatment options as well. The most common treatment is antibiotics for dog eye infection. If a dog eye infection is not responding to antibiotics, let your vet know. Nonbacterial eye infections might warrant ointments or eyewashes to soothe and heal your dogs eyes.

Will a dog eye infection go away on its own? Not likely, Vygantas says. A quick internet search will turn up various natural remedies such as apple cider vinegar and green tea for dog eye infections, but Vygantas doesnt recommend this approach. “Only the most minor cases of conjunctivitis will resolve with over-the-counter or at-home remedies,” she says.

While its tempting to skip the vets office and try out a solution of apple cider vinegar for dog eye infections, keep in mind that an eye infection is a potentially serious issue and almost always requires professional treatment to protect your dogs vision.

When should I take my dog to the vet for eye discharge?