Why does my dog have goopy eyes?
Like humans, dogs are susceptible to developing eye problems and will show a wide variety of signs depending on the specific cause or severity. A common symptom of an eye problem seen in dogs is excessive eye discharge. Goopy eye discharge can occur frequently in dogs, and there are many reasons why this happens. While it can be an indication of an eye problem, there are situations where excessive tear production in dogs can be considered normal. Continue reading to learn more!
Is eye discharge helpful?
The eyes are a very sensitive organ, and even the mildest injury can have lasting and even permanent effects. To protect the eyes, the body has several defense mechanisms in place against external hazards. The eyelids and the eyelashes are designed to keep environmental irritants and objects from touching the surface of the eyes.
When external hazards inadvertently get into the eye, the glands around the eye will produce discharge in an attempt to flush out the irritant and reduce the risk of corneal or eye damage. Tear production acts as a defense mechanism for the eye, removing any objects that might trigger inflammation or cause damage.
Eye discharge is also important in maintaining the lubrication of the eye. Even at a controlled amount, the liquid produced by the tear glands surrounding the eye keeps it well-lubricated to reduce friction from the eyelids and other small environmental objects like dust and sand.
However, there are situations where the eye produces too much discharge. Knowing if the eye discharge is normal or a possible indication of an eye problem is important in the early detection and treatment of different eye conditions.
How to Tell if Your Dog’s Eye Discharge is a Problem
As mentioned, the production of eye discharge in dogs is considered normal to a certain extent. It’s the dog’s natural way of protecting the eyes from external hazards and removing any objects that may trigger an inflammatory reaction. However, excessive eye discharge is also a common sign seen in the initial stages of different eye conditions.
As a dog owner, you must be aware of the parameters that can differentiate between normal eye discharge production and those that are caused by an eye problem.
If the discharge produced by the eye is clear and viscous, and the dog is not showing any other symptoms, then the likelihood that it’s worrisome in nature is very slim.
However, if the color and consistency of the discharge changes (i.e. turns to green or yellow), and causes the dog to have goopy eyes, then the possibility of an eye problem must be considered. Also, if the excessive tear production is accompanied by physical changes on the eye itself such as redness of the sclera (white portion of the eye) or cloudiness of the cornea (the clear portion of the eye), chances are your dog may be suffering from a certain form of eye problem.
Lastly, if the dog is showing signs of pain or discomfort like squinting, inability to open the eyelids, or eye pawing, then the animal probably has some degree of eye problem that needs to be addressed. If you start seeing any of the symptoms mentioned above along with excessive eye discharge production, it’s best to visit your vet immediately.
Common Causes of Eye Discharge in Dogs
There are different possible causes of abnormal tear production in dogs, and proper diagnosis is essential for targeted and appropriate treatment.
1. Corneal Damage
Any damage on the corneal surface of the eye, like an abrasion or ulceration, will result in excessive eye discharge. The severity of the damage usually influences the degree of tear production from the glands around the affected eye. This tear production helps lubricate the cornea and protect it from further damage. It also has a role in the healing of the damaged cornea.
2. Eye Infections
Eyes are also susceptible to infections. Viral, bacterial, or fungal pathogens can invade the eye tissue and cause inflammation and damage. Most cases of eye infections are secondary to an underlying injury like corneal ulceration or abrasion. Primary infections are relatively uncommon.
Eye infections can cause profuse tear production that is mucoid and yellow or green in color. The discharge also dries up fast and leaves the infected eye goopy and full of yellow or green gunk. Some systemic infections like the canine distemper virus can also cause excessive eye discharge in dogs. Your vet will need to run tests to check and identify the infection and figure out the best antibacterial or antiviral medicine to use as treatment.
3. Obstruction of the Nasolacrimal Ducts (Tear Ducts)
The nasal passages and the eyes are closely related to each other and are connected via a small canal called the nasolacrimal duct. This duct allows the drainage of tears produced by the eyes into the nasal passages to prevent build-up around the eye itself. Conditions like infections or inflammation may block the nasolacrimal duct and obstruct the flow of tears. This results in the build-up of eye discharge and excessive tears.
4. Physical Abnormalities of the Eyelids
Certain physical problems involving the eyelids also result in excessive tear production in dogs. Breeds like Chow Chows and Sharpeis are highly predisposed to developing entropion, an eyelid problem characterized by the inward folding of the eyelids. Distichiasis, the abnormal growth of the eyelashes also results in excessive tear production in dogs.
Both these eyelid conditions cause constant irritation to the eye surface triggering the excessive production of tears and possible goopy discharge.
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