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Let's Talk About...Eye Hygiene

Ever wonder what that weird goop coming from your dog's eyes is? Should you be concerned or just clean it away? What about the crust? And red stains? Take a breath. We'll cover all that; just keep reading!

Buddy's Eyes

*This post is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any ailments you or your dog may have. I am not a medical professional; the only medical advice I can give is to see your veterinarian. Any questions or concerns you may have regarding your dog's health need to be directed to a licensed veterinarian.

What's with the Eye Goop?

Eye goop (and crust for that matter) is normal in dogs. It's just like when you and I wake up and clean the corners of our eyes out. Dogs produce tears to help keep their eyes clean and their corneas (the clear layer of tissue at the front of the eye) moist. These tears sometimes drain away (which is why some dogs have tear stains), but sometimes they accumulate as "eye boogers" (the goop or crust that you have to clean away). Your dog's eye boogers are made up of several different things: dust, skin cells, oil, and mucus, to name a few.

What About Tear Stains?

Tear stains are a result of your dog's tears draining away. While these tears are usually clear, they can sometimes be a reddish-brown color due to porphyrin. Porphyrins are simply molecules that are produced when your dog's body breaks down iron. This discoloration is in no way harmful to your pup.

So How Do You Clean Their Eyes?

For regular goops and crusties, you can use a damp cloth. For tear stains, there are a couple of things you can do. Try cleaning the dog's eyes a few times a day. Keep the fur under the eyes trimmed down. Use stain-reducing wipes (I have never needed stain-reducing wipes, so I am unable to recommend a product; try asking your vet or groomer for a recommendation). If your dog isn't too keen on you messing with their eyes, you can take them to a vet or groomer, or you can hire a trainer to work with them so they at least tolerate you cleaning their eyes.

When Should I See a Vet?

If your dog begins to produce more goop, crust, or tear stains than usual, or if the color changes, make an appointment within the week. It could just be the seasons changing (an increase in pollen or high winds could be irritating your dog's eyes more). If you see any redness in your dog's eye, contact your vet the next day; it could be allergies, but it could also be an infection. You should also contact your vet the same or next day if you notice swelling in your dog's eyelid and the area surrounding the eye; this could be a little more urgent. While allergies can cause swelling, so can infections, injuries, and illnesses such as glaucoma.


How do you keep your dog's eyes clean and healthy? Leave a comment below! Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date on all our posts.

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