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Discharge From a Dog’s Eyes

Eye discharge is a common problem for some dogs. It can be a sign of anything from infection to glaucoma to allergies.

Learn more here about what to do if your dog has eye discharge.

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Common Causes and Treatments of Eye Discharge in Dogs

If your dog has clear eye discharge, chances are good it's caused by allergies or something physical, like dust in the eye or wind blowing in the face. A watery discharge or mucus from one eye is often a sign of a foreign body, like an eyelash, while yellow-green or pus-like eye discharge could indicate a serious infection. Always talk to your vet to get at the root cause of your dog's eye discharge, because some problems can result in blindness or loss of an eye if left untreated.

Conjunctivitis. Mucus, yellow-green pus, or a watery eye discharge can all be signs of conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the lining of your dog's eye. There's a wide range of causes for conjunctivitis, from allergies, injury, birth defects, and tear duct problems, to foreign matter, dry eye, distemper, or even tumors.  Other signs of conjunctivitis include very red eyes, inflammation, blinking too much, squinting, crusty eyes, pawing at the eyes, or keeping the eyes closed. 

To treat conjunctivitis, it's important to learn what's causing it. Depending on the cause, treatment can include: removing the irritant and soothing the area with pain medication; antibiotics and saline washes to manage infection; surgry to treat duct problems or birth defects; antihistamines for allergies; or other medications.

Epiphora (excessive tearing). Watery, teary eyes -- resulting in stained or smelly fur and/or infected skin -- can also be the result of many conditions, including abnormal eyelashes, inflammation, allergies, corneal ulcers, tumors, eye pain, glaucoma, and more.

Treating excessive tearing depends on what's causing it and may include: topical antibiotics or steroids for tear duct inflammation; antibiotics and topical medication for cornea damage; or surgery for duct obstruction, ulcers, or abnormal eyelashes.

Dry eye. A sticky, tenacious eye discharge could point to canine dry eye -- a failure to produce enough eye-cleansing tears. Dry eye -- symptoms can also include mucus and inflammation -- may be the result of distemper, injury, ear problems, a knock in the head near a tear-producing gland, or the body's own immune system attacking the tear gland tissue. Infection is a serious risk for dogs with dry eye and can lead to painful, inflamed eyes. 

Treatment for dry eye depends on how severe it is and may include artificial tears for several weeks for mild dry eye; antibiotic eyedrops to help manage secondary infections; immunosuppressant drugs to help control the immune system; or surgery. 

Breed issues. Flat-faced dogs like pugs, Pekingese, boxers, and bulldogs can be more prone to eye discharge than other breeds because their flatter faces often mean shallower eye sockets and protruding eyes. 

WebMD Veterinary Reference

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