As the old saying goes, your dog’s eyes are the windows to their soul. While it may sound a bit cliché, dogs do use their eyes to take in their surroundings, protect the home and respond to your affection and commands, making the eyes a vital part of their daily lives, just as in humans. Proper eye care involves ensuring Fido’s eyes are free of debris, irritation or other issues that could affect their sight or overall quality of life.
Eye boogers, or eye discharge, gunk or tears, can be annoying to your pet, creating itchiness, irritation or even pain. Eye boogers are typically watery in nature, drying and building up over time to create globule discharge in the inner and outer corners of their lids. In addition to impacting your dog’s health, the discharge can be unsightly, creating an unkempt appearance in your canine or even staining the coat of light-colored dogs. Fortunately for you and your pooch, eye boogers are preventable!
Causes and Prevention of Eye Boogers
Eye gunk is caused when the eye creates an inappropriate and excessive amount of discharge. This fluid is regularly present to help lubricate the eye, but certain conditions cause too much to be produced leading to a crusty liquid and a watery or glassy appearance. Causes of eye boogers include:
Allergies are one of the main causes of buildup in the eye. When your pup’s immune system has an inappropriate response to mold, dust, pollen or other environmental contaminants, the eyes may begin to water excessively as a way to eliminate the particles from the body.
To prevent allergies in your dog, avoid prolonged exposure with the irritating compounds. This may be difficult for puppies with allergies to common outside or indoor items. In these cases, your vet may be able to prescribe anti-allergy medications to help control your dog’s reaction and eliminate symptoms.
Eye boogers are sometimes caused by an infection in the eye, also known as conjunctivitis. An infection of the eye may be caused by irritation or injury. It can also be a secondary condition as part of a cold, flu or another sickness.
In order to prevent infection, your dog should be kept in good physical condition. Avoid letting your dog come into contact with other dogs that may be showing signs of illness. If your dog suffers a scratch or other eye injury, seek immediate veterinary treatment in order to protect their eyesight and prevent the buildup of eye discharge and foreign material.
If your dog has been suffering from eye boogers for their entire life, they may have a deformity of the eyelid that causes their eyelashes to grow at an inappropriate angle. Referred to as entropion or ectropion depending on which direction the growth occurs, the eyelashes in these conditions can turn inward against the eye causing consistent irritation, excess watering and eventually, eye boogers.
To prevent eye discharge from ectropion and entropion, have your dog checked by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist. This specialized vet can detect nuanced deformities in the structure of the eye, eyelid and lashes, and can often perform simple surgical procedures to correct the condition at a young age.
Poor Grooming Habits
Poor grooming is most often the cause of eye boogers and excessive tearing in dogs with long or wiry hair, especially around the face and eyes. Hair will often hang down into your pet’s eyes, irritating the delicate tissues. Hair also picks up dirt and oils, further irritating the eye and mixing with tears and fur.
To prevent eye boogers, maintain a proper grooming and hygiene regimen for your pet. If your dog has long hair around the face and forehead, consider keeping their fur cut short or gathering it into a topknot with clips or rubber bands. Owners can clean their dog’s eyes at home with the careful use of a soft cloth or cotton swab. Small amounts of alcohol, kept well away from the eyes, can help reduce buildup. Use warm water regularly closer to the eyes to keep the area completely clean.
Importance and Effects of Prevention
By preventing eye boogers in your dog, you help promote good eye and overall body health. The inability to see properly can cause a variety of issues in your pet, including behavioral problems such as reactivity and inappropriate urination. The better your dog’s sight, the more confident they will become, helping to maintain good doggy/people relationships. As well, the discomfort of the dried material around the eyes can cause your pup to experience pain.
Eye boogers can be a bothersome nuisance for your pooch. With proper care, however, this condition is easily prevented. Keep your dog well-groomed and pay careful attention to their overall health. Eye boogers tend to cascade, becoming exponentially larger problems the longer they are left unchecked. Preventative care for your pet’s eyes will go a long way to ensuring they live out a healthy, happy life by your side.