Dog Eye Boogers: The Most Commonly Asked Questions for Cleanup

woman sitting next to her couch with her dog on resting happily on her arm

Seeing your dog upset can be really hard. That’s especially true when it comes to eye boogers. Your dog could be scratching senselessly at their eyes looking for some relief from those pesky little crusty boogers. 

As a pet owner, you need to step in and help so they can live a better life.

In this blog post, we’ll answer some common questions about dog eye boogers and the best ways to combat them.

Why Do Dogs Have Eye Boogers? 

Dogs' eyes are a lot like humans’. They can get dry eyes, infections, inflammation, and eye discharge - the infamous eye boogers for dogs. Eye boogers are a combination of dried tears and particles like pollen and dust. 

The tear glands create tears to flush out debris and protect the eye. Water can easily drain from the tear ducts, but the mucus and debris that come with it are sometimes too thick to drain completely. Dog eye boogers that sit on the inner corner of their eyes are the accumulation of this discharge. 

Are Eye Boogers Normal for Dogs? 

Dog eye gunk is completely normal. Healthy eye gunk is usually a white or grey color. It accumulates the most in the morning. Discharge that is excessive or a different color, like yellow or green, may signify an underlying health issue that should be checked as soon as possible. 

Here are some things to pay attention to if you are concerned about your dog's eye boogers. 

Dog’s Lineage 

Some breeds are prone to constant, low-grade discharge because of how their eyes and surrounding hair is placed on their face. Dogs with very deep-set eyes, like labradors, often have chronic low-grade daily discharge. 

In addition, ‘bug-eyed’ dogs, like pugs and boston terriers, often have some degree of constant discharge because the anatomy of their drainage system doesn’t always line up well for them to expel discharge.

Excessive Tearing from Irritation 

Allergies can cause eyes to produce more tears. The discharge usually is very watery, but can be thick and mucus-like. The difference in consistency depends on the composition of the tears.

Abnormal Tear-Duct Drainage

This can be caused by a genetic abnormality in the tear ducts, or by a blockage of the drainage system. This leads to the tears not being able to drain normally. 

How Do You Clean Dog Eye Boogers? 

Normal eye boogers may form after long periods of rest, and especially in the morning. If you find that you need to clean your pooch’s eyes more than once or twice a day, you should take your pet to the vet for a checkup. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if the gunk is normal, the result of allergies or pollen season, or caused by some other irritant.

 Whenever you attempt to clean your dog's eyes, make sure that you wash your hands before touching their eyes. 

Beyond that, here are some basic guidelines for how to clean your dog’s eye boogers. And of course, make sure to check with your vet before you do anything if you’re not sure what method is best for your dog’s health. 

Small Volume Eye Boogers 

For wet eye boogers, or for small, dry and crusty eye boogers, you can wipe them away with a clean tissue, cotton ball, or freshly-washed hands. 

Hardened Eye Boogers 

If the discharge has hardened at the corner of your dog's eye, you should use a sterile saline like Pro Pooch Dog Eye Drops. This can be used everyday to soothe irritation and clean away dried, crusty discharge. 

Using drops that are specifically made for dogs is important. Products formulated for human eyes might cause even more damage. Avoid using plain water because it can cause more irritation for your dog. 

If your dog can’t sit still for eye drops, you can put it on a cotton ball or tissue to soften the build-up or get wet wipes made for dogs to help clean discharge easier for your nervous pooch.  

Once you find the cleaning solution that works best for your dog, you’ll be able to easily incorporate it into your routine. After figuring out your dog’s eye gunk problems, your dog will be able to enjoy the dog park and morning walks again with no more irritation. You and your dog will be able to live a happier and healthier life together!

Contributing Writer: Madeline Collins