Doggie Eye Boogers: What Do They Mean?

If you are taking care of a dog, you would know that they are generally quite easy to take care of as long as you just feed them well and that you make sure that you provide them with the love and care they deserve.

Of course, because of how fun-loving and active dogs are, they can easily get messy and smelly. You have to make sure you keep them clean. And one of the messier parts of a dog, if you have noticed, is the area around its eyes.

Eye boogers among dogs are quite common for plenty of our canine pals. But you may be wondering what they mean or if they are good or bad for the dog. Well, there are plenty of indications when it comes to those eye boogers. That is why we are here to discuss what they are and what they mean for your dog and its overall condition and health.

What Are Doggie Eye Boogers?

To put it bluntly, the eye boogers that can be found around your pet dog’s eyes are simply the product of its tears. These are eye discharges that may or may not be common depending on the conditions and on the dog.

Also called eye gunk, these boogers are medically or formally called eye discharge and can range from clear and watery to a thick liquid that may look a lot like pus. If the discharge is thick, it may actually dry up or harden and eventually form a crust around your dog’s eye.

When the eye booger actually forms a crust, you may want to worry about your dog’s condition because this could mean that he may be suffering from an illness. You should also go to a vet to have your dog checked if you notice that your dog has unusually runny eyes that you think are caused by something serious.

Causes Of Doggie Eye Boogers

As mentioned, the major cause of doggie eye boogers is the discharge that comes from your dog’s eyes whenever it becomes runny. In normal cases, the eye boogers are simply tears that have built up to form a thick mucus-like substance around the dog’s eyes. However, when the boogers are too crusty, your dog may be suffering from conditions that cause its eyes to become runnier than it should be.

Here are some of the possible conditions causing your dog’s runny eyes:

  • Conjunctivitis is what we normally call as pink eye. This condition happens when one outer layer of the dog’s eye and an inner layer of its eyelid is inflamed. This eventually causes the dog’s eyes to have puss-like discharge that will eventually form a crust that resembles eye boogers around your pet’s eyes. Conjunctivitis has a lot of causes. This may include viral and bacterial infections, as well as allergies.
  • Epiphora is also known as a water eye and is somewhat normal for many different breeds of dogs. Simply put, this means that your dog’s eyes are just too wet to the point that they become runny, which would now lead to a discharge that forms boogers around the dog’s eyes. This is fairly common in dogs with flat faces because of how they were not built to properly dispose of tears that accumulate near their eyes.

    The bad part about epiphora is that the tears may build up and cause problems such as infections. It may also contribute to your dog’s funky smell and may darken the area around your dog’s eyes if you have a breed that comes with lighter colors.
  • Dry eyes or keratoconjunctivitis sicca is the opposite of epiphora in the sense that it is causing the dog’s eyes to become extremely dry instead of wet. This happens because of issues in your dog’s tear ducts or because of certain infections. It may even be caused by the side-effects of your dog’s medication.

    This condition leads to eye discharge because of how the dog’s eyes lack the proper lubrication to flush away or remove irritants and infections in its eyes, which are then forced to protect themselves through the discharges.
  • Injuries are also fairly common reasons as to why your dog has runny eyes. These animals tend to be too playful and may actually accidentally scratch their eyes while fooling around. The dirt or the foreign objects that accumulate in their eyes may cause your dog to have bloodshot eyes, which could possibly result in discharges that will turn into a crust around the canine’s eyes.

What You Should Do

What you should do with doggie eye boogers actually depends on the severity of the case. In some cases, it may also depend on what caused the doggie eye boogers and if your dog is suffering from some sort of a condition that is causing its watery and runny eyes to have a puss-like discharge. 

If the dog’s eye boogers harden and turn into some sort of a crust, that is when you may have to take the dog to a veterinarian for immediate treatment in case the cause of the discharge is something serious. However, if it is simply a cause of watery eyes, you may only need to clean the area around the dog’s eyes.


Take the dog to a vet immediately to have it checked. The vet will look at the symptoms and may come to a conclusion as to what is causing the dog’s eyes to be runnier and more watery than usual. Treatments for the dog’s runny eyes will depend on the condition or illness. 

If it is a case of a bacterial or viral infection, the vet may prescribe an anti-bacterial or an anti-viral medicine or drop that can help heal your dog’s eyes and prevent it from becoming too watery. In cases when the dog’s eye discharge is caused by dryness, your vet will prescribe a medicine that can help hydrate your canine’s eyes to prevent any more dryness that could even lead to blindness if you are not prompt enough in having your dog checked.

Cleaning And Maintenance

In some cases, the gunky discharge or eye boogers are merely caused by normal circumstances, such as when your dog has eyes that are just more watery than other breeds. If that is the case, what you need to do is to make sure you keep the dog’s eyes clean and to see to it that you remove the crusty doggie eye boogers to prevent infections that may arise out of it.

  • Use a dog stain remover to effectively remove the stain or the crust around your dog’s eyes. These are liquid solutions that were designed to be safe for your dog’s skin, hair, and eyes. Always make sure to use products that are as free from chemicals as possible to prevent any sort of harm or side-effect. Dog stain removers are also good for grooming your dog and for maintenance purposes.
  • Try trimming the area around the dog’s eyes if you have a dog that tends to be hairy. This minimizes the gunk and discharge that accumulates around the dog’s eyes. You can have the dog groomed by a professional, or you can do it yourself using a dog-safe grooming kit.
  • Make sure that the dog’s eyes are always moist. You can use a canine eye drop designed to moisten your dog’s eyes. Always go for the product that is non-toxic and is as free from chemicals as possible to avoid irritating the dog’s eyes. The more hydrated your canine’s eyes are, the less likely it will produce puss-like gunk that can build up and cause a crust.

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Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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