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How to Clean Dog Eye Boogers: 7 Vet Approved Steps

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

owner cleaning eyes of the dog using wipes

Vet approved

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Many dogs struggle with eye boogers (and sometimes even worse eye problems). While small amounts of this discharge are not troublesome, you should help keep your dog’s eyes clean. Some dog breeds have more problems with this discharge than others and may need extra attention to help their eyes stay clean.

Luckily, it is not too challenging to clean your dog’s eyes. Below, we have gone through all the steps you need to take when cleaning your dog’s occasional boogers. If your dog is suffering from any eye condition, follow your vet’s advice regarding how to clean their eyes. Likewise, if your dog gets eye boogers every day or they reappear after cleaning them away, contact your veterinarian to investigate your dog’s eye problem.

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Before you begin, you need to gather a few items:
  • Sterile gauze
  • Soft, clean washcloth
  • Warm water
  • Pet-safe eye cleaning wipes (optional)
  • Dog-safe eye-cleaning solution or sterile saline solution
  • Dog treats (for rewards)

You will need to find a quiet, comfortable space to do the cleaning. Preferably, this should be a space your dog likes. You don’t want to have a lot of things going on, though, as this can cause extra distractions. Speak soothingly to your pup and gently stroke them to help them feel at ease. Don’t make a big deal out of the cleaning; this should be a simple, enjoyable task.

Show your dog the gauze, washcloth, and eye-cleaning solution. Let them see and inspect these items, making them feel more comfortable with the process.

female hands cleaning chinese downy crested dog with wipes
Image Credit: Marina.Martinez, Shutterstock

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Softening Eye Boogers

Before cleaning the eye boogers, it’s essential to soften them. Otherwise, it may be painful for your dog.

1. Moisten Your Gauze or Washcloth

First, you need to moisten your washcloth. Use warm water and squeeze out any excess water. You want the cloth to be damp but not soaking wet. It should also be warm, though not hot.

If you have dog-safe eye-cleaning wipes you can use them, there is no need to moisten them. Using cotton balls carries the risk of leaving some fibers behind, so gauze or a washcloth is a better option. If you do need to use cotton balls, make sure not to use them dry.

2. Apply the Washcloth to Your Dog’s Eye

Next, carefully and gently apply the eye wipes or wet washcloth to your dog’s eye. It’ll take a minute or two for the crust to be loosened. Preferably, you can distract your dog with treats during this time to help distract them. Once you’ve cleaned their eyes a few times, your dog should become used to the process.

You may need to re-wet and apply the washcloth again if your dog’s eyes are particularly crusted.

cleaning dog eye
Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Divider 8Cleaning Your Dog’s Eye

Now that the crust is softened, it’s time to get cleaning. Here’s how:

3. Apply the Eye-Cleaning Solution

You’ll need to apply the eye-cleaning or saline solution first. Follow the directions on the container, as different solutions vary. If you would like to use a cleaning solution, speak to your vet about what they suggest, especially if your canine has chronic eye problems.

4. Gently Wipe

Next, you’ll want to gently wipe your dog’s eyes, moving outwards. Be careful not to touch the eye directly, as this can cause scratching and pain. Instead, you’ll only want to touch the eyelid and areas with developed crust.

You may need to re-soften their eye boogers after wiping if the eye is very crusty. Sometimes, only the surface becomes moistened enough to clean well. If you find their eye difficult to clean, consider moistening the eye more or using more solution.

Never force the boogers out of the eye with force, as this can irritate. More irritation will only lead to more discharge, which can be a serious problem for your canine. Instead, you want to be as gentle as possible.

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5. Switch Washcloths

You’ll need to use different gauze or washcloths for each eye if you need to clean both. You don’t want to cross-contaminate each eye, as this can make the problem worse. Always clean the washcloth well between cleanings. If you’re using cotton balls, simply throw them away after use. Don’t reuse them.

6. Reward

Throughout the process, reward your dog with treats and praise to create a positive association with the eye-cleaning routine. This will help them remain cooperative during future cleaning sessions.

Hopefully, the more you clean your dog’s eyes, the more they will become used to the process. Eventually, they should be calm during the process, especially when treats are involved.

woman sitting on sofa and giving treat to the pembroke welsh corgi dog
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

7. Regular Maintenance

After cleaning your dog’s eyes, you will need to keep an eye on them. Some dogs only have problems occasionally. However, other breeds may have issues on a more regular basis. Allergies can also cause excessive eye boogers. Regularly inspect your dog’s eyes for signs of redness, swelling, discharge, or any other issues. These can indicate an underlying issue and may warrant a vet trip.

If you notice persistent eye boogers, pawing at the eyes, squinting, changes in your dog’s behavior, or any concerns about their eye health, consult your veterinarian for a thorough examination. Eye injuries can be extremely serious and painful for your pooch, so they need to be treated right away.

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Cleaning your dog’s eye boogers and keeping their eyes healthy doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right preparation, gentle cleaning, and positive reinforcement, you can ensure that your furry friend has clear and comfortable eyes.

If you notice persistent problems, it is probably indicative of a deeper issue, and you should consult with your vet. Some breeds just get more eye discharge built up because of their anatomy, though, and these dogs may need their eyes cleaned regularly throughout their lifetime.

Either way, keeping your dog’s eyes clean is vital for their health and well-being.

Featured Image Credit: Marina.Martinez, Shutterstock

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