When you wake up in the morning and your furry friend rolls over next to you, there’s a good chance he or she has some discharge in their eyes. Just like us, dogs can experience a build-up of discharge after waking up. Fortunately, for dogs with excess eye discharge, there is an abundance of home remedies to help.
Since many cases of eye discharge aren’t serious, home remedies can be a good solution. Plus, they are often inexpensive and may already be in your home. Discharge is healthy and normal, but there are cases that can be severe. The best way to tell the difference between normal eye discharge and potentially dangerous discharge is by doing proper research and paying careful attention to your pup.
What is Eye Discharge?
Much like in humans, eye discharge is common for dogs. Discharge is an important way for the body to cleanse the eye. Some types of eye discharge are completely normal and have home remedies. Unfortunately, other forms are associated with potentially dangerous health issues. So before we discuss remedies let’s determine what factors separate normal eye discharge from excessive.
Your dog’s tears regularly flow through ducts found at the inner corner of each eye. That is where discharge is typically located. Eye discharge can be comprised of dust, oil, dried tears, mucus, dead cells, and other similar minuscule objects in the air. Normal eye discharge will either be clear or brownish-red in color.
Regular eye discharge occurs most often in the morning or after a long nap. The amount of discharge, if healthy, should remain comparatively consistent and constant. Irregular eye discharge can be persistent, sporadic, and vary in amount. It may consist of red eyes, irritation (around the eyes), puss, crusty buildup, smelly fur (around the eyes), or dry eyes.
What are the Causes of Eye Discharge in Dogs
Eye discharge in dogs can be caused by a number of different factors. According to PetMD, excessive eye-watering is linked with various conditions that range from harmless to severe. The most common causes of eye discharge in dogs are irritants, allergies, inflammation of the cornea, blocked tear ducts, dry eye, Glaucoma, foreign material in the eye, anatomical abnormalities (such as rolled-in eyelids), and corneal wounds.
Less Common Causes
According to AKC, other causes include viruses such as herpes, hepatitis, distemper, and canine influenza, bacteria such as canine brucellosis, leptospirosis, parasites, tumors, poisoning, vitamin deficiency, and tick-borne diseases such as canine ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease. Cherry eye, a rare ailment where your pup’s third (and often hidden eyelid) becomes enlarged can cause eye discharge as well.
Eye Infection Discharge
If your pup is producing yellow or green eye discharge, this can be signs of an infection. Eye redness and visible discomfort typically accompany green or yellow eye discharge. Sometimes, eye infections are the central issue, but many times yellow or green discharge is a result of another ailment such as dry eyes.
Related Illnesses or Infections
In some cases, yellow or green discharge that appears to be from an eye infection is actually a sign of infections or illnesses within the respiratory tract, nervous system, and other parts of the body.
Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS) is a condition that occurs when a dog’s immune system assaults and damages tear glands. Tears produce much-needed moisture for your pup’s eyes to function properly. If there are fewer tears, your dog’s body will produce mucus in an attempt to lubricate the eye.
The overproduction of mucus then leads to red and often painful eyes that can develop ulcers. If Dry eye is left untreated, your pup can become blind. If there is gray or white mucus amassing around your pup’s eyes, your veterinarian can perform a “Schirmer Tear Test.” This procedure is used to discern KCS from other diseases.
Conjunctivitis may cause eye discharge in your pup as well. More commonly known as pink eye or red eye, Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is a thin mucous membrane coating the front of the eye and lining the inner eyelid. Uveitis, which is inflammation in the interior portion of the eye which includes the iris, can also cause eye discharge.
There are two types of conjunctivitis in dogs. Infectious conjunctivitis, or pink eye, which is caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Infectious conjunctivitis is rare. Non-infectious conjunctivitis is much more common and can have a number of possible causes.
Genetic Predisposition (Brachycephalic Breeds)
Certain dogs are genetically predisposed to eye problems that result in excess tears. Particular breeds, such as brachycephalic breeds, spaniels, and terriers, may generate excess tears and reddish-brown mucus in the corner of their eyes. The short snouts of these breeds may cause complications for the eyes, such as shallow eye sockets, compressed tear ducts, corneal ulcers, and abnormal eyelash growth.
What are the Symptoms of Eye Infection in Dogs
Eye discharge may not be the only sign of an eye infection. It is possible that you have a crafty pup that is able to clean its eyes fairly well before you spot any discharge. Attentive owners should be cautious of:
- Pawing at the eye
- Holding eye closed
- Signs of discomfort
- Light sensitivity
- Watery or thick, stinking discharge
Glaucoma is caused by excessive pressure in the eye and can be discerned in several ways. Cloudy eyes, bulging eyes, and excessive tearing are all symptoms of Glaucoma. This ailment can cause serious pain which may require surgery.
Often, light-coated pups generate a reddish-brown discharge around the corner of their eyes. Tears contain a pigment called porphyrin that turns reddish-brown when exposed to air for extended periods of time. This reddish-brown eye discharge is normal and shouldn’t cause any concern.
Home Remedies for Preventing Eye Discharge in Dogs
Since your furry friend should naturally produce eye discharge, there should be no need to try and prevent it. If your pup has an alarming amount of discharge, it may be that your dog’s eyes have been exposed to an excessive amount of debris such as dust or sand.
Owners can make sure their dog’s eyes are shielded on notably windy days from sand, dust, and pollen by keeping them indoors or fitting them with doggy goggles. Goggles also work well for pups who like to peek their head out of car windows. Dogs that scratch themselves more often may be prone to scratching their eye area and causing irritation to the eye. Luckily there are some helpful home remedies for itchy dogs too.
Sometimes, an increase in eye discharge can signal the arrival of allergies. Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies later in their life. For dogs, allergies can result in hives, watery eyes, inflammation, breathing issues, and more. Providing eye drops or allergy medication can help prevent eye discharge in this situation. Trimming the hair around your pup’s eye may also ease irritation in the area.
Owners should attempt to avoid the introduction of foreign bodies to their pup’s eyes. Many times we allow our dogs to stick their heads out the car window for elongated periods of time. Dust, dirt, sand, pollen, seeds, and other foreign objects can fly into your dog’s eyes while its head is out the window. While we are not recommending that you stop letting your dog hang out the window indefinitely, it may help to reduce eye irritation, if that’s something your pup is suffering from.
Home Remedies for Dog Eye Discharge
The most efficient home remedy for dog eye discharge is regular cleaning. Owners can use a clean cotton cloth dampened (not soaked) in warm water. A small gauze will work just as well. Start at the inside of the eye (the area closest to the nose), and work your way outward. Be as gentle as possible with your pup and avoid pushing the discharge back into the eye.
Many owners find use in warm saline solutions. In a cup of warm water, owners can use no more than a tiny pinch of salt. Stir thoroughly and apply in the same method as a regular warm cloth.
Nutrition can also play a key role in helping with dog eye discharge. Changing to a fresh food diet can especially improve vision and help eye issues heal. They recommend Carotene-rich foods such as carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. Blueberries, broccoli, kale, and sardines, provide different nutrients such as antioxidants, phytonutrients, and omega oils, respectively. Sometimes you can find healthy dog treats that include many of these ingredients.
Another helpful home remedy for dog eye discharge comes in the form of herbs. Astaxanthin, which is beneficial algae packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, and Marigold, a potent source of a carotenoid that’s important for eye health, both can help with eye discharge.
If your pet seems to be leaking at the eyes more than usual, try these helpful and inexpensive home remedies for eye discharge. In most cases, owners are able to take care of the issue without having to go see a vet.
Keep in mind though, there are circumstances where owners should take their pup to the vet immediately. Yellow or greenish discharge can be a sign of infection, while white, gray, thick, or smelly eye discharge can be symptoms of dry eye. No owner wants their pet to be left in a state of discomfort, and their eyes are just as sensitive as ours. Make sure to keep a close eye on your pup, pun intended, if he or she has been experiencing issues.
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Written by Joe Farber at www.holistapet.com