What is eye discharge in dogs?

If you have a dog, you’re probably familiar with what many call “eye boogers” – the snot-looking stuff that seeps from their eyes on occasion, usually after sleeping. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes it’s yellow or green. But what is this eye gunk, exactly? And is it something to worry about? Let’s look a little closer.

Clear eye discharge is the most harmless of eye discharges but is still important to pay attention to. Tears maintain a crucial role in the overall health of your dog’s eyes. They are responsible for nourishing and lubricating the cornea and other parts of the eye. Sometimes tears accumulate at the tear duct in combination with mucous, debris and cells to produce a clear colored discharge.

Clear eye discharge is most prevalent in the morning or after a long nap. It is perfectly normal and can be wiped away with a damp cloth.

Tear staining is a normal occurrence in some breeds. There are specialized products that will help clean your dog’s face.

Red staining around your dog’s eyes is called tear staining. It’s most commonly seen in dogs with white or light-colored fur. Tear staining is caused by a pigment in your dog’s tears called porphyrin, which turns a reddish-brown color when exposed to air. Tear stains are harmless but can be controlled to keep your pet’s fur looking clean.

Yellow, green, or red eye discharge is more serious. Depending on the color, consistency, and frequency of the discharge, your dog may have a bacterial infection, inflammation, foreign material, or trauma.