Help for Your Dog's Eye Problems

Help for Your Dog’s Eye Problems


Your dog’s eyes are too important not to safeguard.

Sometimes your dog’s eyes aren’t as clear and shining as they normally are. You might notice your pup pawing at his eyes like he’s trying to wipe something away, or blinking and squinting at you incessantly.

Take a good hard look at your best friend’s eyes; he may be trying to tell you something’s wrong.

Are they red, inflamed, watery, or crusty? Are one or both eyes shut?

If you answered yes to any of the above, read on to learn about self-diagnosing your dog’s eye problems.

What Eye Discharge Means and How to Treat Them

There’s always a reason for discharge coming from your dog’s eyes; the trick is knowing when that discharge is normal and when it needs serious attention.

Clear Discharge

Clear discharge is odorless, doesn’t feel sticky to the touch, and is painless for your pup. Your dog will not be pawing at his eyes or squinting with clear discharge.

Discharge like clear tears is good for your dog’s eyes; it’s nature’s way of cleaning the eyes and keeping them healthy.

Clear tears may signal simple issues such as allergies, colds, or a foreign body that entered and left the eye (think: an eyelash or dust particle).

How to Treat It

Thankfully, you can take care of clear discharge with natural remedies all on your own.

Try a saline eye wash as directed in both eyes. If your dog won’t tolerate this, soak two cotton balls with the saline (never use one ball for both eyes) and clean the eyes and surrounding area. Discard the balls after each use.

If the problem persists, it may be allergies. Your vet may prescribe an antihistamine to cure the problem.

When you notice anything more than clear discharge, you should make a trip to your vet ASAP. Your vet will examine the eye for injury, foreign objects, defects, or reaction to light. If no immediate cause is found, further testing will be needed to explore possible issues such as cornea problems or ulcers.

Excessive Discharge

Excessive tearing, or epiphora, can also be caused by allergies, colds, or foreign objects that have not left the eye. It can also be caused by more serious issues such as glaucoma, tumors, or ingrown or irregular eyelashes (which become their own foreign bodies).

This discharge may be smelly, sticky, and stain the fur. Your dog may be in pain and start  pawing at or squinting his eyes.

Certain breeds are more prone to excessive eye discharge. The flatter faces of boxers, bulldogs, and pugs means their shallow eye sockets and protruding eyes are right out there in the open, susceptible to all kinds of environmental havoc.

Loose-skinned breeds like hound dogs and cocker spaniels have eyelid issues that leave them with water trails down their eyes frequently.


How to Treat It

Your vet may prescribe steroids and topical antibiotics. Surgery might also be necessary if the problem stems from an ulcer, corneal damage, or a tear duct malfunction.


Breeds, such as the the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel shown here, that have bulging eyes
(pugs are another type)
tend towards “dry eye”. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to multiple eye disorders.
(CC Photo by Jessicali345)

Dry Eye

While you may think dry eye is the reverse of excessive discharge because there is no discharge, you’d technically be wrong.

When your pup’s eyes don’t make enough lubricating tears they can be plagued by persistent discharge and inflammation like red eyes.

This discharge will be sticky and mucous-filled and will cause discomfort.

There are several reasons why the eye isn’t producing tears. These may include injury to or malfunction of the tear ducts, ulcers on the eye, or the result of distemper, a serious viral illness.

How to Treat It

Dogs with dry eyes open themselves up to infections as even the mere blinking of the eyelid can cause damage to the eyeball. Artificial tears may help if the problem is minor, and antibiotics may be used to ward off or cure an infection. Autoimmune drugs or surgery may be a final remedy.


If you notice yellow, green discharge and the sight of unpleasant pus, your dog may be battling a serious infection.

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the lining of your dog’s eye. It may have been caused by a scratch from a branch on your morning walk, a swipe from an ornery cat, allergies, dry eye, or a genetic defect, just to name a few possibilities.

One or both eyes will appear red and inflamed (like pink eye), and will cause discomfort in your pet exhibited by pawing, squinting, or looking generally miserable.

How to Treat It

Saline washes, pain medication, and antibiotics will help if this was caused by a minor injury or irritation. Antihistamines may be needed for allergy management. Surgery may be the answer if the cause is birth defects, tear ducts, or other problems.

How to Prevent Eye Issues for Your Pup

Be proactively mindful about your dog’s eyes. Don’t run him through thickets with brambles and obstructed pathways. Prepare for activities where excessive wind will be directed his way.

Ever see dogs in cars wearing glasses as they stick their head out the window? While doggy glasses are kind of goofy looking, they are not a silly idea: they keep dust out and may prevent a corneal abrasion or laceration.

Vaccinate as scheduled for distemper, and be wary of any symptoms that are not considered normal.

Whenever you’re in doubt about your pet’s health, always check with your veterinarian instead of self-diagnosing. You don’t want to compromise your dog’s vision. An examination by a trained professional is the best way to diagnose and determine a proper treatment for your furry best friend.

While your vet is your first line of defense in an emergency, we always welcome your questions about our products at

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