How to Clean Dog Eye Boogers

Few things can beat the warm, fuzzy feeling of your canine friend affectionately rubbing their muzzle against you. And there are also a few things that can suddenly reverse that feeling faster than realizing that your dog wasn’t being affectionate; it was using you like a tissue to wipe away eye boogers.

Dogs are wonderful, but they have no sense of manners at all. If you want your dog to stop rubbing their eye boogers on you, your guests, and your furniture, you’re going to have to help your dog keep their eyes clean.

Causes of Eye Boogers in Dogs

Several things can give your dog eye boogers. Some of them are completely harmless. Others require your dog to get help from a veterinarian.

  • Natural processes: In most cases, eye boogers are simply the result of natural processes in your dog’s body. The eyes naturally produce a substance called rheum, a gooey material that can accumulate in the corners of the eyes. It happens with people, too, only it gets hard quickly for us and forms an eye crust sometimes called sleep sand. As long as there’s not too much of it and it’s clear, brownish, or reddish, it’s OK.
  • Dry eye: if your dog suffers from a condition that makes their eyes dry, then their eyes have lost their protective moisture, allowing debris to get caught in them and causing rheum to build up to coat the debris and protect your dog’s eyes.
  • Allergies: Dogs can get allergies too. Sometimes, those allergies can get severe enough to cause eye discharge.
  • Conjunctivitis: Otherwise known as doggy pink eye, it’s an eye infection involving the tissue around the eye, causing inflammation, excessive tearing, and eye boogers. It requires a veterinarian’s help to cure.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is an eye problem that causes a buildup of pressure in the eye, pain, and eye gunk that looks like pus. If you suspect glaucoma, contact your vet immediately.
  • Blocked tear ducts: If your dog’s tear ducts are blocked by debris, inflammation, birth defects, or tumors, eye boogers can result. This one requires a vet’s help, too.
  • Eye injuries: An eye injury can cause dog eye discharge. An eye problem like this can also impair your dog’s sight and cause a fairly high amount of pain. If your dog suffers from excessive eye discharge and acts like they are in pain, contact a vet right away.

In general, if the eye boogers are yellowish or greenish, or if there are a lot of them, or if they smell, you need to get a vet’s help. They will use a retina scope and maybe even X-rays to determine the cause of the problem.

How to Clean Your Dog’s Eyes

If you’re wondering how to clean dog eye boogers, don’t worry, dogs eye goop shouldn’t be too difficult to clean, but you do need to be careful to avoid damaging your dog’s delicate eye tissue. To safely and effectively remove the goop from your dog’s eyes, just follow these instructions:

  1. Get a soft washcloth for the job. You’re going to use it near your dog’s eyes, so it really can’t be rough or abrasive. Test it by rubbing it on your skin first.
  2. Adjust your tap so that it produces lukewarm water.
  3. Soak the cloth in the water, but don’t get it so wet that it’s dripping.
  4. Hold your dog’s head still with one arm.
  5. Gently wipe the corners of your dog’s runny eyes. Don’t touch the eyes themselves. Don’t apply much pressure, just enough to wipe away the eye gunk. Wipe away from the eye itself, never toward it!

Be extra careful with breeds with large, protruding eyeballs and/or wrinkles around their eyes, like pugs. It can be easy to accidentally wipe their eyes, which can damage them.

Some people recommend using Q-tips for this job, instead of a washcloth. This is not a good idea, though. For one thing, it can be very easy to accidentally poke your poor dog in the eye with a Q-tip. For another, Q-tips tend to shed bits of the cottony material that makes up the swabbing. This can get into your dog’s eyes and irritate them.

Other people recommend using wet wipes for cleaning eye goop, but that’s an even worse idea. Wet wipes contain detergents and other chemicals, and these can be very irritating and lead to more problems, like runny eyes, red-eye, or general eye irritation. It’s also a bad idea to use paper towels instead of a washcloth because they can shed lint which can, you guessed it, get into your dog’s eyes.

For Heavy, Crusty Buildup

crusty buildup of eye boogers

If your dog has a heavy, crusty buildup of eye boogers, the washcloth method might not be enough. In that case, the easiest solution might be to bathe your dog. Running or pouring warm water over your dog’s head softens the buildup and makes it easier to remove. Use an extra-gentle, pet-safe shampoo when you bathe them, and don’t let any get in your dog’s eyes. Run lukewarm water gently over your dog’s head. It will soak the buildup, loosening it up and washing it away.

Preventing Eye Boogers

A lot of the time, there’s nothing you can do to prevent eye boogers. After all, they’re how your dog keeps dust and other irritants out of their eyes. But, sometimes, there are things you can do to make your canine friend less prone to getting them. One is to keep them away from excessive dust and other irritants, especially for dogs who spend a lot of time outside.

Another is to reduce the number of allergens your dog is exposed to, in case allergies are the cause. Spend extra time vacuuming. Getting an air filter might also be an effective way of reducing allergens. If you suspect allergies but don’t know what your pet is allergic to, schedule a veterinarian appointment. The vet might be able to pin the culprit down for you and prescribe eye drops to help with any eye irritation.

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