Some nights my Labrador dog sleeps with her eyes open and in the morning when I give her a quick brush, I notice she would have this hard crusty eye booger that’s dark brown and looks like gunk in the corner of her eye. Is this normal and how do I clean my dog’s eye boogers? Here’s the short answer to this question.
How to soften dog’s eye crust? Dog eye booger is normal. You can simply use a soft fabric or towel, wet it with warm water, and gently dab it on your dog eye booger. The warm water will naturally soften the hard crusty eye booger. Other methods include using an eye drop specifically for the dog eye booger to safely soften and flush it out.
When you see dog eye boogers, there’s nothing to be worried about. Just like we get crusty eye gunk in the morning, our dogs also get it too. However, you may be discouraged to clean your dog’s eye boogers since they can get hard, crusty, and gunky and may take some time and effort to clean them.
We’re here to help and will provide 5 safe ways to soften and clean your dog’s eyes crust and explain 4 potential reasons that may be causing dog eye boogers.
Dog eye boogers: an overview
Your dog’s eye booger or crust can come in different colors such as green, yellow, or brown. The medical term for the dog’s eye booger is dog eye discharge. Dog eye discharge occurs when there is fluid flowing out from the body and in this case, from your dog’s eye.
A dog’s eye discharge can also come in different consistencies such as hard and crusty, pus-like, or watery. Keep in mind that different consistencies and colors of the dog eye booger can tell you different things.
Some consistency and color can indicate underlying health issues so when you are cleaning your dog’s eye booger, be observant and consult with your vet if you ever notice something is off.
Like humans, our furry friends’ eyes will only function properly when they are clean, lubricated, and wet. Too much dog eye discharge can build up and harden and become crusty and gunky in your dog’s eye. This not only affects their vision but can also be itchy, irritable, and annoying.
Your pooch may end up trying to rub his or her against the floor or scratch their face and eyes with their paws. This is why it’s important to keep your dog’s eyes clean and help your pooch remove their eye boogers.
Let’s discuss how to properly clean your dog’s eye boogers next.
Handy Hint: Just like how dog eye booger can come in different colors and consistencies, our dog’s vomit can also come in different colors and textures. Check out Dog Vomit Color Guide to find out what your dog’s vomit means.
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How to clean dog eyes crust: 5 Ways to clean dog eye crust
The best way to clean crusty dog eyes is by softening the dog eye gunk first. Luckily, there are many ways to soften dog eye boogers. Here are 5 ways to clean your dog’s eye gunk. Before we start it’s important to note the following:
Important tip: Avoid using your fingers to remove your dog’s eye boogers. Using your fingers could cause painful eye infections in dogs, especially if your hands aren’t clean. While it may be faster to use your fingers to get rid of the dog’s eye booger, this method can also cause unnecessary transfer of bad bacteria.
How to soften dog eye boogers
First, you’ll need to soften your dog’s eye booger. By softening the hard crusty eye booger, it makes the removal process that much easier and less painful for your pooch.
1. Use a warm soft towel and gently press it on your dog’s eye booger
You’ll want to use a soft clean fabric or towel so it’s soft and gentle on your dog’s skin while being firm enough that it doesn’t tear apart like a paper towel would. Run the soft towel under warm water for a minute or two.
Then, you’ll want to gently apply the warm wet towel to your dog’s eye booger and hold it for about 25 to 30 seconds. This gives the dog eye boogers enough time to soften.
The warm water from the towel should help with the following:
- Slowly soften the dog’s eye booger.
- Clean the gunk from your dog’s eye.
- Makes it easier for the hard eye booger to fall out.
Remember to be gentle yet firm. If it hurts the dog, he or she may get scared and the next time you need to clean the hard eye crust, it may be more difficult.
Once the eye discharge softens, you can easily wipe it away from your dog’s eyes.
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2. Use canine eye drops
When it comes to eye drops, you’ll want to use one that is specifically designed for your dogs. It should not irritate your dog’s eye and should be non-toxic if your pooch accidentally licks the eye drop solution.
You can expect the canine eye drops to be a bit more expensive than your regular standard saline or sterile solution.
When my Labrador’s eye boogers are hard and crusty, I will use this canine eye drop especially when I’m busy:
The vet recommended eye cleaner is a gentle cleaner made with natural ingredients that helps to eliminate clogging, reduces eyelids inflammation, and disinfect the eyes.
What I like about this eye drop is that it’s multi-functional. Not only is it an eye cleaner, but it also keeps my dog’s eye lubricated, moist, and can treat allergic reactions.
3. Use dog tear stain remover
Using a dog tear stain remover can also help to soften your dog’s stubborn eye boogers, especially if your pooch has epiphora. When our furry friends tear up or have watery eyes, it can leave behind hard, crusty, and stubborn eye boogers.
How to remove hard crust from dog’s eyes?
To successfully remove the hard crust from your dog’s eyes, here’s what you can do.
1. Use a dog eye comb
If you prefer going the substance-free route, a dog eye comb or flea comb is also an effective way to remove that crusty dog eye boogers. Sometimes the dog eye boogers can get stuck on the fur around the dog’s eye which can cause irritation as well.
Using a dog eye comb or face comb will get rid of that dog eye booger and tame the hair surrounding the dog’s eye.
Here is a groomer who uses a dog eye comb to get rid of the dog’s eye boogers.
2. Use an electric trimmer
Lastly, owners with long-haired dogs may consider using an electric trimmer or scissors. Again, the eye boogers can get stuck on the fur around the dog’s eye. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, we highly recommend that you visit a groomer to get this done.
Dog eye boogers: What’s causing it?
Again, when dogs have eye boogers, oftentimes it is not a direct condition but rather a symptom of an underlying health issue. Here’s what could be causing dogs to have excessive eye boogers.
1. Allergic reactions
Here is a list of allergies that can affect your pooch and cause him or her to have dog eye boogers:
- Seasonal allergies like hay fever.
Like humans, dogs can also have hay fever. Symptoms of hay fever in dogs include watery eyes, irritated throat, sneezing frequently, and runny nose. The watery eyes in dogs can cause build-up in eye boogers.
Additionally, there may be pollen or dust that sits around your dog’s eyes and causes your dog to have eye discharge or watery eyes from irritation. We highly recommend cleaning your dog’s eyes regularly to clear away any dust or pollen around your dog’s eyes.
If you suspect your pooch has an allergy either from pollen or dust or has seasonal allergies, we recommend that you bring him or her to the vet for an examination. Your vet will come up with appropriate treatment options like topical anti-inflammatory steroid eye drops or antihistamines such as Benadryl.
2. Epiphora in dogs
Epiphora in dogs is when their eyes tear up excessively and it overflows because there is no proper or enough drainage. Epiphora is common in flat-faced dog breeds such as French Bulldog, French Mastiff or Dogue de Bordeaux, and Boston Terrier to name a few.
When there’s not enough drainage or proper drainage, those tears may dry up and become tear stains or hard crusty eye boogers.
If you have a light-colored dog like a white Chihuahua, you’ll notice the tear stain around their eyes right away. They appear to be a dark outline around the dog’s eye due to too much tear buildup.
If you suspect your pooch has epiphora, speak with your vet right away. Luckily, epiphora is treatable. Your vet will carefully examine your pooch and come up with appropriate treatment for your canine friend.
3. Dry Eye
Dogs can also get dry eyes or Keratoconjunctivitis sicca as well. Dry eye in dogs is the opposite of epiphora in dogs.
Dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca in dogs can also cause hard crusty eye boogers. If your K9 pal has bits of gravel or grains of sand in his or her eye, then it’s harder for the eye to flush out these sand or gravel from their eyes.
You may even notice the white around your dog’s eye turning dark like a brown color. Instead of discharging clear tears, your dog’s eye will produce yellowish-green discharge.
If you suspect your dog has dry eyes, make sure to bring him to the vet right away. If left untreated, Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS can cause blindness in dogs.
4. Pinkeye or Conjunctivitis
Dogs can also have pinkeye or conjunctivitis. This is when both the inner eyelids and the outer eye layer become inflamed. In some cases, allergy can cause pinkeye. Dogs can also get conjunctivitis through bacterial or viral infection of the eye and may get green or yellow eye crust or pus-like eye discharge.
Since conjunctivitis is highly contagious, we recommend that you take your other pets to the vet if one of your dogs is infected with conjunctivitis. Treatments for pink eye or conjunctivitis include frequent eye baths and antibiotics.
While dog eye boogers are normal, make sure you’re visiting your dog’s vet on a regular basis to ensure there are no underlying health issues that are causing your canine friends to have hard gunky eye boogers.
Sometimes, your dog’s eye booger can be a symptom of a health issue that you may not have been aware of. Thus, it’s best to always consult with your vet and err on the side of safety. Hopefully, this article gave you a few tips and tricks on how to clean dog eye gunk.
If you still have further questions or concerns on how to remove dog eye boogers, we highly recommend that you reach out to your dog’s vet.
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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
With over five years of specialized experience as an animal writer, my expertise lies in dog nutrition, health, behavior, grooming, and training. I am dedicated to delivering helpful and informative content that caters to the well-being of our furry friends. My primary goal is to empower pet owners with knowledge and ensure our canine companions thrive in health and happiness. In my free time, I love volunteering at local dog rescue centers.