Eye Discharge in Dogs Causes, Treatments, Home Remedies, Pictures (2023)

Eye Discharge in Dogs Causes, Treatments, Home Remedies, Pictures (1)

When you think of certain dog breeds, a droopy-eyed St. Bernard or a whiny-eyed Shih-Tzu might spring to mind. But when is dog eye discharge something more serious? You may have noticed that your dog's eyes are watering more often than usual. Or her normally clear eye is now a strange shade of green. Read on to learn more about what both the symptoms and color of your dog's eye discharge can mean.

What is dog eye discharge?


  • What is dog eye discharge?
  • Common signs to look out for
  • Eye discharge in dogs - causes
  • Normal tear color
  • allergies
  • Chemical irritants
  • infections
  • Chronic dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)
  • conjunctivitis
  • injury to the eye
  • tear duct blockage
  • Eyelid irritation (entropion, ectropion, cherry eye)
  • Glaucoma
  • breed predisposition

Eye discharge is the leakage of fluid from the eyes. In healthy eyes, it is normal for this fluid to help lubricate the lens and cornea. This will prevent the eye from drying out and allow it to function normally. The fluid then drains into your dog's tear ducts, which are located at the bottom of the eye closest to the nose. The fluid is then reabsorbed or mixed with your dog's nasal fluid. With normal function, you may see minimal tearing when your dog blinks. However, in the event of a mistake, this tearing can become excessive, take on a strange color, or disappear entirely, causing the eye to dry out.

Common signs to look out for

While some eye tearing is a normal body process, excessive eye discharge in dogs is a problem. If you notice that your dog's eyes appear to be "leaking," leaking more than normal (or not at all), or the discharge turns an odd color, this is a sign of concern. Green, yellow, or cloudy discharge can indicate the presence of viral or bacterial infections.

Excessive discharge along with swelling of the eye can also indicate irritation or inflammation. Finally, when you notice that your dog seems to berubbing their face on thingsmore often it could indicate that they are itchy or painful.

Eye discharge in dogs - causes

The following are some of the most common causes of eye discharge in dogs - normal and not:

Normal tear color

One of the most common types of eye discharge in dogs is tear staining. All dogs experience normal tear staining and tear production. However, some breeds, particularly those with light or white coats, may have tear stains, which are more noticeable. Tear stains occur when there is a chemical reaction between the body's natural tears and the coat itself. This is normal and not at all harmful to your dog, other than making it look cosmetically messy.

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All dogs experience tear stains to some degree. However, dogs with flatter faces or light-colored hair may have a more noticeable large patch. As long as the spot or discharge isn't green, yellow, or bloody, the eye isn't inflamed or red, and your dog isn't rubbing his face, you don't need to do anything else. There are several products on the market that you can use to safely remove the spots around your dog's eyes to give them a brighter, cleaner look. These are available over the counter at most pet stores and retailers.


Another common cause of eye discharge is allergies. Allergies can be either environmental or food-related, although eye discharge is more common with environmental allergies. Signs of allergies are copious amounts of clear or slightly cloudy discharge. Your dog may also sneeze, have clear nasal discharge, have red or itchy eyes, or have other redness or swelling on the face and body. Systemic allergies can cause red rashes or hives all over the body.

Allergies are often initially diagnosed and treated using conservative methods. This may include symptom control from your veterinarian and a daily over-the-counter allergy medication like Benadryl to see if symptoms improve. From there, your vet can recommend additional tests like blood work to rule out systemic issues, avoid potential irritants or food ingredients, and use stronger allergy medications. For longer-term relief, medications like Claritin and Zyrtec have shown good results in dogs. Prescription medications like Atopica and Apoquel can also help reduce allergy symptoms.

If your dog has environmental allergens like dust, grass, or pollen, there are a few things that can be done to reduce symptoms without medication. Be sure to keep your dog in a well-ventilated area that is dust-free and vacuumed regularly. Keeping them away from areas of the home where you are actively cleaning can also help. When coming from outside, you can wipe the face, belly and paws with a pet or baby wet wipe to prevent pollen and grass allergens from sticking to the fur and causing irritation.

Chemical irritants

If you notice your dog's eyes watering after cleaning the house or using a new perfume, you may be noticing the effects of chemical irritants. Just like humans, chemicals can be harmful to pets, causing eye discharge among other symptoms. Signs to look out for include significant eye leakage,runny nose, redness orswelling of the eyes, sneezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing.

If you notice your dog is having trouble breathing,Take them to a well-ventilated area immediatelyand stop using the item. If they don't recover within minutes, turn pale or blue, or struggle to breathe, it's a toxic reaction that requires emergency treatment.

Many objects can cause chemical irritation in dogs. The most notable are bleach or ammonia based cleaners. Perfumes and essential oils can also be harmful to dogs, especially when used in diffusers or applied directly to your dog's body. It is best to take your dog to another room before using a purifier or diffuser. Be sure to ventilate the room fully and make sure your dog does not have access until the room is odor free.


Infections can present with a variety of symptoms, including eye discharge. This can occur with both respiratory infections and sometimes with systemic infections. In most cases, the key indicator of infection is the strange color of the discharge. It may appear thick, green, yellow, or cloudy. Often this leads to crusting of the eye, which closes the eye. This discharge can also cause irritation including redness and swelling of the eye, eyelid and tear ducts. In addition, your dog may also become lethargic or feverish, cough or sneeze, lose their appetite, or have other symptoms more specific to the type of infection.

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Your veterinarian can help you determine if your dog has a respiratory infection. Most infections are secondary, often in addition to a viral infection such as bordetella (kennel cough), distemper, or other diseases. However, some infections can be caused primarily by bacteria, such as B. the bacterial form of Bordetella. Blood tests can help rule out systemic diseases, in addition to X-rays of the heart and lungs if needed.

Depending on the cause, treatment may vary. Antibiotics can help treat primary and secondary bacterial infections, while palliative care can help treat underlying viral diseases. If your dog is seriously ill, your vet may recommend hospitalization with IV fluids and medications until he's stable enough to go home. Most respiratory infections clear up in 1 to 2 courses of antibiotics, but some cases require long-term treatment.

It can be difficult to prevent infection. Regular preventive measures such asvaccination, and keeping your eyes clean and dry can help reduce heaviness and discomfort. A warm washcloth or compress can help open up caked eyes and relieve pain and pressure.

Chronic dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)

Chronic dry eye seems counterproductive to the topic of eye discharge. However, there may actually be a root cause behind it. Also known asdry keratoconjunctivitis, or DED, this type of eye problem can cause gray, sticky, clay-like discharge from the eye. Because the eye doesn't produce enough tears to keep it moist, it often begins to overcompensate. This leads to excessive tearing. However, because the tear ducts and ability to produce tears are impaired, the discharge often has a sticky, gray appearance.

DED is caused by an immune system response. This causes the body to attack its own tear ducts and tear production centers. In addition to a strange eye discharge, you may notice your dog blinking more often or rubbing his eye. The eye or cornea may appear dry or cracked, and the eye may be red or painful for your dog. This is a serious problem that requires care, otherwise the eye can be damaged to the point of blindness or need to be removed.

Your vet will do a test called the Schirmer tear test. A special paper filter is placed under your dog's eyes. The eyes are then kept closed for 5-10 minutes to collect tears. If the paper is not very damp or not damp at all after this time, this is an indicator of insufficient tear production. Treatment includes daily use of artificial tears, atopics to reduce immune response, or other similar medications. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary but is rare as most dogs respond well to daily medication.


Conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the conjunctiva (the membrane that lines the eyes and eyelids), can lead to a variety of symptoms, including eye discharge. You will also see symptoms such as swelling or redness around the eye, the eyelids, or discoloration of the eye itself. In severe inflammation, the third eyelid may permanently cover the eye instead of returning under the eyelid as usual. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes, but is most commonly seen in both eyes at the same time.

Several things can lead to conjunctivitis as it is a general term rather than a diagnosis. Viral diseases, immune-mediated inflammation, eye tumors, blocked tear ducts, parasites, malnutrition and more are possible causes. For this reason, a full examination and work-up by your veterinarian is best.

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Your vet will likely start with a visual examination of the eye to look for any injuries or tears in the eye or eyelid. Fluorescein stain tests can be used to determine this. Blood tests are also beneficial to rule out systemic problems such as immune disorders, infections, and viruses. Severely affected eyes may require referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Treatment includes treating both the underlying medical condition and the inflammation itself. Your veterinarian may recommend systemic antibiotics, steroids, or pain relievers. In addition, medicated eye drops and ointments can be used to reduce swelling and pain directly around the eye.

injury to the eye

You might think that eye injuries are easy to see, but they can be hard to see, especially when the injury is caused by objects like sand, dust, or small debris. If you notice your dog has a large amount of clear or cloudy discharge, his eye is red or swollen, or he seems to be keeping it shut, an injury may be to blame. You may also see bloody discharge, visible objects in the eye, or visible sores.

It is best to take your dog to your veterinarian immediately if you suspect an injury. The sooner your vet can remove or flush the item causing the injury, the quicker the eye will recover and the less overall damage that needs to be repaired. Your vet can examine the eye for debris, either with a general visual exam, an ophthalmoscope, or fluorescein staining. From there, your vet may recommend sedation to safely remove or flush the debris from the eye. If the eye is severely injured, surgical repair of the eyelids or removal of the eye itself may be necessary.

After treatment at the clinic, your vet can send you home with a range of medications. Pain relievers and steroids given either by mouth or directly into the eye can help reduce pain and swelling. Antibiotics may be given if an infection is present or suspected that the injury could lead to an infection. Your vet will also recommend an Elizabethan (cone-shaped) collar. This discourages your dog from rubbing or pawing at the eye, which can reduce further inflammation and infection.

Monitor your dog in places where he is likely to injure himself. Wearing protective equipment such as goggles on carts, motorcycles, or bicycles can help.

tear duct blockage

Tear duct blockages can occur in two ways. One is a blockage where the tear duct opens up on the eye. The other is where the duct exits in the nasal passages. If the duct is blocked at the eye, e.g. B. from thick discharge, tumors or swelling, you may notice that your dog tears excessively, has pain when opening or closing the eye or a visible swelling at the corner of the eye. If the end of the channel is blocked, e.g. B. from tumors, nasal discharge or nasal congestion, you may notice that your dog sniffs, snorts or sounds congested.

In either case, you'll likely see an increase in clear discharge, although it may be discolored if the underlying cause is due to viral or bacterial infections. Your vet may recommend basic tests like visual exams and scoping of the nose. Or they may order more extensive tests like X-rays or a sedated area of ​​the nasal passages or blood tests to look for an underlying condition.

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Treating the underlying cause of the blockage is best. In case of illness, medication can help to reduce swelling and symptoms. For tumors, removing the tumor can help clear the blockage. In some cases, eye discharge and blockage can become chronic. This requires frequent cleaning of the eye to keep it clear and open.

Eyelid irritation (entropion, ectropion, cherry eye)

Dysfunction of the eyelid can lead to excessive tearing and eye discharge. Entropion and ectropion both affect the main eyelid, causing it to bend either inward or outward. The inward bending (entropion) of the eyelid causes irritation of the eyelashes, causing the eye to water, become red, and even swell. Bending the eye outward (ectropion) usually causes excessive dryness, but the eye can overcompensate by producing more tears, leading to excessive eye discharge. Cherry eye affects the third eyelid and can cause the eyelid to protrude at all times, causing irritation, excessive eye discharge, and swelling.

Fortunately, all of these problems can be treated; usually with a simple operation by your veterinarian. Your vet will first examine the eye to see what is happening to the eyelid. From there, they can surgically repair the eyelid. With the cherry eye, the third eyelid is stapled back in place, which helps with the weakened ligament. For entropion and ectropion, the eyelid is often sutured shut for several weeks. This allows the eyelids to return to their normal position while allowing the underlying eye to heal. Once the eyelids are back to normal, the sutures are removed.

In addition to surgical correction, eye drops can help. They keep the eyes lubricated and reduce puffiness and inflammation. Pain relievers and antibiotics may also be recommended. In most cases, surgical repair has an excellent prognosis and the area is fully healed in 3-4 weeks.


Glaucoma is the increase in intraocular pressure. It can be genetic in origin and appear either slowly or quickly. It leads to a variety of problems including eye pain, swelling, clouding of the eye and loss of vision. The main symptoms are bulging and clouding of the eye. You may also notice excessive eye discharge in one or both eyes. The symptoms can be difficult to recognize at first. This is true if your dog compensates through other means such as noise or smell.

A tonometer can be used to measure your dog's eye pressure in addition to visual inspection. From there, your vet can recommend medications. These help reduce swelling and inflammation and increase the flow of fluid from the eye to reduce pressure. In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist. Glaucoma is often progressive and requires lifelong treatment. In severe cases, removing the eye may be the best option to reduce pain and further deterioration.

breed predisposition

While breed predisposition isn't a disease in itself, it's important to know if your dog's breed or mix of breeds may put him at a higher risk of eye problems. Eye discharge can be normal, as seen in tear stains in white or light-haired breeds. Some breeds, such as B. Flat-faced breeds such as Pugs, Boston Terriers and Bulldogs may be more likely to have problems such as cherry eye or tear duct blockage. Other breeds, like terriers, poodles, and beagles, have a higher incidence of glaucoma.

Knowing your dog's breed history can help prevent eye problems before they become a bigger problem. Regular veterinary eye exams in glaucoma-prone breeds can detect it in the early, treatable stages. Carefully select and breed dogs. Those who have no history of the disease or who have a slightly longer snout can help reduce the likelihood of nasal and tear duct functional problems. Your veterinarian and breeder can work with you to keep your dog healthy and watch for problems in their lineage that they may be prone to.

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Eye discharge in dogs has many causes, ranging from normal to severe. Knowing your dog's regular amount of eye discharge can help you know when things are not normal. Examine your dog's eyes daily. Clearing mucus can keep eyes healthy and alert you to problems before they progress. Fortunately, most eye discharge problems are treatable with a trip to the vet.

Discharge from the dog's eye is the body's way of cleansing itself, removing impurities and dirt trapped in the eye. However, it can be a sign of a more serious health problem, like an infection. On the positive side, however, most cases can be fixed with simple home remedies. However, if that doesn't help, you or your vet can resort to one of the various medical treatment options outlined here.


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