Discharge from the eyes of a dog

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 02.07.2022

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Just like humans, dogs are prone to various types of eye infections. Therefore, every pet owner should know what can cause discharge from the eyes of a dog and how they are treated.

Causes of the dog eye discharge

Most often, veterinarians associate the causes of eye discharge in dogs with ophthalmological problems, in particular:

  • increased formation of lacrimal fluid due to the pathology of the lacrimal or sebaceous (tarsal) glands of the edges of the eyelids;
  • excessive lacrimation (epiphora) with protrusion (prolapse) of the lacrimal glands of the nictitating membrane - the so-called third century;
  • congenital or acquired decrease in the physiological patency of the lacrimal (tear) points of the conjunctiva of the eyelids or their complete blockage, as well as obstruction of the nasolacrimal (tear-nasal) ducts, leading to impaired drainage of the preocular tear film with its accumulation and flow onto the muzzle. In such cases, the owners note that the dog has discharge from the eyes in the morning and say that her eyes are watery;
  • traumatization of the cornea by abnormally growing eyelashes (with trichiasis or districhiasis);
  • inversion of the eyelids (ectropion).
  • Also, the symptoms of discharge from the eyes in a dog are manifested:
  • in cases of trauma to any anatomical structures of the eyes and the ingress of foreign bodies that cause mucous discharge from the eyes of a dog. In this case, the dog shows anxiety, whines, blinks often and rubs his eyes;
  • when dust, smoke or gaseous substances get into the eyes, irritating the mucous membranes and often leading to an allergic reaction. In such situations, discharge from the nose and eyes of the dog appears.

It should be borne in mind that simultaneous purulent discharge from the eyes and nose (with crusts along the edge of the nostrils) - against the background of fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing and coughing, vomiting and diarrhea - are attributed to the symptoms of the respiratory form of distemper, that is, infection of the dog morbillivirus of the Paramyxoviridae family (safe for humans, but fatal for tetrapods).

And that's not it. Veterinarians provide an impressive list of ophthalmic diseases of infectious etiology diagnosed in dogs: invasive parasitic (borne by ticks), microbial, viral (including with the defeat or reactivation of the canine herpevirus CHV-1), fungal (Blastomyces, Aspergillus, Cryptococcus neoformans). For example, when eyes are damaged by blastomycetes, their choroid suffers with the development of chorioretinitis, and systemic aspergillosis can lead to purulent inflammation of the eye membranes - enophthalmitis, in which the destruction of the bone structures of the orbit occurs.

In addition to inflammation of the mucous membrane of the eyelids - conjunctivitis with redness of the eyes and lacrimation, white or purulent discharge from the eyes of a dog appears with inflamed lacrimal glands and the lacrimal sac - dacryocystitis.

Such secretions, accompanied by mucosal hyperemia, light intolerance, eyelid spasm, swelling of the cornea and paraocular tissues, are considered as the first signs:

  • inflammation of the eyelids and their glands (blepharitis) - anterior, posterior, angular;
  • inflammation of the cornea of the eye (keratitis), often together with the inflammatory process of the conjunctiva in the form of keratoconjunctivitis;
  • increased intraocular pressure (glaucoma);
  • anterior uveitis (iridocyclitis) - inflammation of the choroid of the iris and ciliary body.

In this case, the discharge can be colorless serous, but yellow and green discharge from the eyes of the dog can often be observed, as well as ichorous (putrid) - yellow-brown and brown discharge from the eyes, which is a sign of the bacterial nature of the disease.

When the inflammatory process affects the vascular membranes, as well as with glaucoma and retinal detachment - including due to blunt eye trauma - red or bloody discharge from the dog's eyes is noted, which indicates hyphema - hemorrhage in their anterior part.

Risk factors

Dog handlers and veterinarians note the role of the anatomical features of the nasolacrimal drainage system, in which excessive lacrimation - transparent watery discharge from the eyes of a dog - is due to its breed.

But the risk factors for the impact on the cornea, its dystrophy, the development of ophthalmic diseases and predisposition to them are initially present in certain morphological types of the facial part of the dog skull.

This applies to brachiocephalic dogs, which have short (slightly flattened) muzzles and, accordingly, shorter nasal cavities and tear-nasal ducts, as well as shallower eye orbits and narrowed infraorbital regions. Such breeds include Pekingese, Pugs, Shih Tzu, Chihuahua, Japanese Chins, Boxers, English and French Bulldogs, Sharpei, American Staffordshire Terriers. In the same way, dogs with long hair on the face and head - poodles, black and Scottish terriers, lapdogs - suffer from infections and eye irritations somewhat more often than other breeds.

Glandular hypertrophy of the eyelid margins, as well as inflammation and prolapse of the lacrimal gland of the nictitating membrane (with cherry eye syndrome) can occur in young dogs of any breed, but these pathologies are especially common in American Cocker Spaniels, English Bulldogs, Pekingese and Lhasa Apso.

Complications and consequences

Any serious eye disease in a dog or anatomical abnormality can have certain consequences and complications. For example, with obstruction of the lacrimal points of the conjunctiva of the eyelids or blockage of the tear-nasal ducts, constant discharge from the eyes leading to chronic dermatitis.

In animals with chronic dacryocystitis, fistulas form, and the course of keratitis is complicated by corneal ulceration and clouding, which can result in loss of vision. The same is true for glaucoma.

Diagnostics of the dog eye discharge

It is good if in the hospital the diagnosis of discharge from the eyes of a dog is carried out by an ophthalmologist veterinarian. But even when this is done by a therapist who specializes in the treatment of small pets, to make a diagnosis it is necessary:

  • conduct a visual examination of the eyelids and the front of the eyes with a focal light source (ophthalmoscopy);
  • identify damage to the cornea by applying a fluorescein dye to it;
  • determine the amount of tear fluid secretion using a special Schirmer test (Schirmer Tear Test);
  • measure intraocular pressure (that is, conduct ophthalmotonometry);
  • take samples of discharge from the eyes (and nose) for laboratory testing (bacterial culture) and determine the nature of the infection;
  • take a blood test for antibodies (immunoglobulins);
  • conduct an ultrasound examination of the internal structures of the eyes;
  • make a contrast radiography of the nasolacrimal ducts of the facial part of the skull (dacryocystorhinography).

Differential diagnosis

Of course, if your pet has simple conjunctivitis or blepharitis, then an experienced specialist and his differential diagnosis will quickly establish this without ultrasound and x-rays.

Treatment of the dog eye discharge

Veterinarians prescribe not the treatment of discharge from the eyes of the dog, but the treatment of the underlying disease in which this symptom is present. In many cases, eye drops or ointments are needed.

Basic veterinary eye drops:

  • Ciprovet (other trade name Ciflodex) - with a broad-spectrum fluoroquinolone antibiotic ciprofloxacin. The standard method of application is to instill the drug behind the conjunctiva - one or two drops three times a day, the course of treatment lasts for 7-14 days;
  • ZooHealth - ciprofloxacin in combination with the synthetic glucocorticosteroid dexamethasone;
  • Gentaline (Dekta-2, Iris) - contains the aminoglycoside antibiotic gentamicin;
  • Levomikan - based on the antibiotic chloramphenicol;
  • Leopard - levomycetin + antiseptic furatsilin;
  • Barrier - corticosteroid dexamethasone + ammonium antiseptic decamethoxin;

Also, with conjunctivitis, blepharitis and keratitis, 1% oxytetracycline ophthalmic ointment is prescribed.

If a dog has glaucoma, Pilocarpine drops (instilled up to three times a day), Brinzolamide (Brinzopt), Timolol, etc. Are used. Preparations for the treatment of uveitis include corticoid eye drops containing dexamethasone or prednisolone. Oral steroids may also be prescribed.

In cases of obstruction of the nasolacrimal duct and persistent lacrimation, the treatment consists of surgical opening of the duct, maintaining patency by catheterization for several weeks of healing.

Surgical intervention cannot be avoided with protrusion of the lacrimal gland of the nictitating membrane and cherry eye syndrome, as well as with advanced glaucoma, keratoconjunctivitis and corneal ulcers.


What is the prevention of eye discharge in dogs? Obviously, in the prevention of eye injuries and eye infections.

Experts advise:

  • regularly inspect the dog's eyes and remove the exudate that stands out with warm saline so that crusts do not form;
  • shorten the hair around the eyes so that it does not irritate the cornea;
  • close the window if a dog is traveling with you in the car;
  • do not allow the animal to swim in dirty water and wet its face in puddles;
  • choose fortified food, supporting the pet's natural immunity;
  • vaccination against distemper (canine distemper) should be carried out annually.


Many factors determine the prognosis of an ophthalmic problem in dogs accompanied by discharge from the eyes.

Timely detection of a pathology or disease, proper treatment and care lead to a full recovery. But there are diseases that, unfortunately, lead to  blindness in dogs .

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