Dr. Deegan, DVM:
When your dog or cat’s eyes look dirty and goopy, it often indicates an issue with their eye health. This common phenomenon may raise concerns among pet owners, but understanding the reasons behind it can help ease your mind and ensure your pet's eye health is properly managed. Common causes of these clinical signs include foreign objects in the eye, allergies, eye infections and/or underlying health issues. Here are some more details on the possible causes:
Foreign Objects: Sometimes, small particles or debris can get into your pet's eye, causing irritation and discharge as the eye tries to flush out the foreign material. Long hairs around the eye can also cause constant irritation leading to regular discharge around the eyes and even corneal damage.
Allergies: Just like humans, pets can have allergies that affect their eyes. Allergens like pollen, dust or even certain foods can trigger allergic reactions, leading to watery or goopy eyes.
Environmental Factors: Environmental factors like wind, smoke or pollutants can also irritate your pet's eyes and lead to discharge.
Eye Infections: Bacterial and viral infections can lead to eye discharge. Conjunctivitis, for example, is a common eye infection in pets, causing redness, inflammation, and goopy discharge.
Blocked Tear Ducts: Blocked tear ducts can prevent proper drainage of tears, leading to excessive tearing and eye discharge.
Underlying Health Issues: In some cases, eye discharge can be a symptom of a more significant underlying health problem, such as glaucoma, cataracts or dry eye syndrome (KCS).
Breed Predisposition: Some dog breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, are more prone to eye issues due to their facial anatomy.
To address any clinical signs your pet may have, it is essential to consult a veterinarian. Your pet’s doctor will perform a thorough examination of your pet's eyes, identify the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.
Treatment may include grooming hair away from the eyes, cleaning the eyes regularly, medications like eye drops or ointments, or addressing any underlying health conditions.
Prompt intervention and treatment will help maintain your pet's eye health, comfort and protect their vision so they can see a bright future.