My Dog Has Discharge From Her Eye

    At some time or another, almost every dog has a bit of material collect in the corner of the eye. When this happens, it's not considered a discharge so much as a normal response to the day-to-day foreign matter a dog is exposed to. When a dog leads a healthy, active life, she is bound to get dust and debris in her eyes on occasion, and tearing is an expected, appropriate means of clearing that material, flushing the eye in the process. Once that accumulated material is cleared, the healthy eye will return to its normal appearance.

    But if the accumulated material recurs repeatedly, the collected material is yellowish to green, and/or the surrounding tissues are red and irritated, your dog needs further attention and action.

    What to Look For

    Put on your rubber gloves to avoid introducing additional foreign matter to your dog's eyes. Go slowly to give your dog confidence that there will be no surprises, and speak soothingly to keep her calm. Take a close look at your dog's eyes. Take note of the color of the discharge and check for any injury or mass near the eyes.

    What to Do

    Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What breed is your dog? Exophthalmic dogs (those with naturally bulging eyes, such as pugs and Boston terriers) are more likely to have eye problems than other breeds of dogs. Because their eyes are more exposed and accumulate foreign material at a greater rate, they're also more likely to have eye discharge than other dogs. And because their eyes protrude more, they are more likely to seriously injure their eyes. Combine this with a narrowed drainage angle, and you have a greater tendency for increased intraocular pressure, which can lead to glaucoma. In short, if you own one of these breeds, be knowledgeable concerning your particular dog's eyes and be prepared to act swiftly if you notice even a slight cause for concern. Your dog and your vet will appreciate it!
    • Is your dog behaving normally in every other way? Dogs with eye discharges and no other symptoms are usually safe to treat at home. Clean the eye, flush it with a sterile saline solution, and observe it for a few days to see if it improves. If it doesn't improve, call your vet.
    • Is your dog bothered by the affected eye? Dogs that are annoyed enough by a discharging eye to rub or scratch it are in danger of doing themselves serious harm through repeated trauma. Call your vet right away if the rubbing and irritation persists after you have cleaned and flushed the eye.
    • Can you see any injury or mass in or near the eye? Injuries to the eyes will invariably result in irritation, tearing, and discharge. Flush the eye gently with a sterile saline solution to get a better look at the injury and determine how serious it is. Masses within the eyes or associated with the surrounding conjunctival tissues and those of the eyelids can also result in irritation and discharge. Once again, thorough yet gentle cleansing with sterile saline will help clear away extraneous material and help gain a clearer picture of the extent of the problem.

    When to Get the Vet

    Any dog with an eye problem that causes repeated rubbing or scratching of the eye should be seen immediately by a veterinarian, preferably a veterinary ophthalmologist.