Small dog with eye discharge.
Image credit: nadisja, Shutterstock

Working at a health food store that also caters to canines, I’ve had many pet parents come in looking for natural solutions and home remedies for their pets’ ailments, including a home remedy for dog eye discharge. While I always recommend seeking medical guidance for serious health problems, many conditions can be safely and effectively treated at home.

Eye discharge is a common problem for our furry friends. Thankfully, in many cases, a treatment can easily be made at home using products in your kitchen or medicine cabinet. I share my top six home remedies, including advice for blocked tear ducts and eye infections.

Common Causes Of Dog Eye Discharge

Runny eyes in dogs are relatively common. The cause may be something as benign as dirt in the eye or more severe health conditions like glaucoma. Here are some of the most common causes of eye discharge in dogs.

  • Allergies
  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Breed-related issues
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Dry eye
  • Eyelash or eyelid issues
  • Infection
  • Something stuck in the eye
  • Wind exposure

What Other Symptoms Accompany Runny Eyes?

Closeup view of adult man carry puppy dog on his shoulder

If your pup has runny eyes after being outside but the issue clears up quickly, debris or a sharp wind is likely to blame; however, if the watery eyes last longer or you notice any of the symptoms below, reach out to your veterinarian. The accompanying symptoms may be signs of a more serious eye condition.

  • Bumping into objects
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Eye puffiness, swelling
  • Pawing at the face
  • Red eyes
  • Squinting

Eye Discharge Color

Just like humans, a dog’s eye discharge will look different based on the condition at play. The color of the discharge can give clues about the possible cause. Keep in mind that these are just helpful guidelines. For a proper diagnosis, it’s best to contact your vet.

  • Clear discharge: If your dog’s runny eyes are clear, it’s most likely due to allergies or environmental factors, such as wind or dust. Other potential causes include blocked tear ducts, corneal wounds, and even glaucoma.
  • Crusty discharge: You’ll often notice “eye gunk” or crusty eyes in the morning. This discharge is a mix of tears, oils, and skin cells shed during sleep. It’s completely normal and a part of routine eye function. Too much of the crusty discharge could be a sign of dry eye.
  • Red tear stains: While red tear stains may look alarming, they shouldn’t cause too much concern. Clear tears turn red/brown when exposed to air—a process called oxidation. Tear staining is common with flat-faced breeds, like Pugs and French Bulldogs. To reduce tear stains, wipe the area regularly with a damp cloth or use a tear stain remover. Red tear stains may also indicate other treatable eye conditions, like inadequate drainage.
  • Yellow or green discharge: Yellow or green discharge is generally a sign of an eye infection. You may notice signs of conjunctivitis, including eye redness and inflammation. We share all you need to know about conjunctivitis in dogs.

Our Personal Experience With Dog Eye Discharge

Georgie Cavalier eye discharge up close.
Photo by Sadie Cornelius for Canine Journal, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024.

Our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog is prone to eye boogers. We wipe them out of his eyes multiple times a day, and it’s usually the worst right when waking up. Sometimes in the spring when there is a lot of pollen in the air, the color gets a bit more green and thick. We often use eye wipes or just a warm paper towel to clean the eyes.

Sadie Cornelius, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog Mom & Marketing for Canine Journal

How To Clean Canine Eye Discharge

To clean discharge from the eyes and eyelids, start by treating the area with a simple saline solution. You can make a cleansing salt solution at home by mixing 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt with a cup of warm distilled or filtered water. Carefully wipe the area with gauze or a cotton ball using this solution. Be very gentle; sometimes patience is needed to soften and remove crusted discharge. You can also try using dog eye wipes specially made for pups.

Rinse the eye area several times daily or as needed. Once the area is clear, use one of the following dog-runny eye home remedies.

6 Home Remedies For Dog Eye Discharge

Your dog may have runny eyes for many reasons, including allergies, blocked tear ducts, infection, foreign objects, and glaucoma. While not all of these conditions can be treated at home, many can. Once you have cleaned your dog’s eyes, try one of the following canine eye discharge home remedies.

1. Soothing Oils

Pet Honesty Wild Caught Omega 3 Fish Oil

For irritated or dry eyes, apply a small amount of coconut or castor oil to a clean cotton ball and wipe your dog’s eyelids with it. Both oils have anti-inflammatory properties and can alleviate dry eyes and prevent the formation of eye crust.

You can also give your pup fish oil internally to moisturize their eyes from the inside out. Our article on fish oil for dogs shares more benefits and our favorites.

2. Eyebright

dried eyebright jpg

Eyebright is an anticatarrhal herb, meaning that it helps remove excess mucus. As excessive moisture around the eyes can increase the likelihood of infection, this herb is useful in its ability to dry up mucus and restrict fluid secretion to prevent infections. Eyebright is also helpful for allergies and eye irritation.

To make an herbal infusion, boil 1 cup of water and pour it over 1 teaspoon of dried eyebright. Cover and let it steep for 15 minutes. Then, strain the liquid, leaving the solid pieces behind. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to the infusion, stir, and let cool.

Once the solution has cooled, gently treat your dog’s eyes. You can apply the solution three times a day or as needed.

3. Chamomile Tea

chamomile tea bags jpg

Chamomile is another herb famously known for its calming effect on the nerves for relief from anxiety and insomnia. However, this herb has many other health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Using a tea bag, prepare a cup of chamomile tea. Let the liquid steep until cooled. Then, remove the tea bag and hold it over your pooch’s eyes, allowing some of the liquid to seep into their eyes.

Save the rest of the tea and apple the solution with a cotton ball several times daily to clean the eyes and counteract infection.

4. Colloidal Silver

Sovereign Silver colloidal silver

If you’re a fan of natural remedies, you likely already have colloidal silver in your medicine cabinet. This antimicrobial liquid fights bacteria, viruses, and fungi and may be used to treat wounds and infections.

Colloidal silver is available in various forms (i.e., liquids and gels). Follow the directions on the label. You can administer liquids into the eye; gels should be applied around the eye using a cotton pad. My favorite brand of colloidal silver, Sovereign Silver, has a wealth of resources for using silver on its website.

5. Goldenseal

goldenseal jpg

If your pet’s eyes are infected or discharging thick, yellow mucus, try making a goldenseal infusion. Goldenseal root is an antimicrobial herb that clears mucus on contact. It can also help prevent blocked tear ducts by removing the bacteria causing tear stains.

To make a treatment, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1/4 teaspoon of goldenseal powder. Let steep for 15 minutes, and then filter the liquid. Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt to the solution, stir, and let cool. Use the goldenseal to treat the eyes three times daily or as needed.

6. Witch Hazel

witch hazel jpg

Another astringent herb, witch hazel, helps restrict the secretion of mucus and soothes itchy, irritated skin. Most commercially available witch hazel products are made with alcohol, which is toxic to dogs when ingested. Instead, look for an alcohol-free witch hazel.

Apply witch hazel generously to the eye area with gauze or a cotton pad as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know some of our readers still have questions about canine eye discharge and how to relieve it. If you don’t see your questions, ask us in the comments.

What’s The Best Dog Eye Discharge Home Remedy?

The best treatment will vary widely based on your dog’s systems and what you have at home. Pay attention to eye discharge color and other symptoms to pick the best remedy for your pooch.

What Is A Natural Anti-Inflammatory For Dog Eyes?

Eyebright and chamomile are both anti-inflammatory herbs. If you don’t have these on hand, try coconut oil.

What Human Eye Drops Are Safe For Dogs?

It’s recommended to consult your vet before using human eye drops. Instead, make your own saline solution at home by mixing 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt with a cup of warm distilled or filtered water. Wipe the solution around the eye with a cotton ball or gauze. We also share our picks for eye drops for dogs.

When To See The Vet

Learn all the signs of severe eye conditions in dogs via our dog eye problems article. We break down the difference between serious eye conditions—like cataracts and glaucoma—with insight from veterinarian Dr. Joanna Woodnut.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Tara is part of the Canine Journal team, which has over a decade of experience researching, testing, and writing about anything and everything dog-related. She also has 8+ years of experience in the wellness industry, with experience in pet nutrition and supplementation. For this article, Tara spent 5 hours researching and writing everything you need to know about home remedies for dog eye discharge.

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