Eye care

How To Clean Dog’s Eyes

Ameera Mills
By Ameera Mills. Updated: December 13, 2018
How To Clean Dog’s Eyes

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Dog’s eyes are a extremely delicate and sensitive. If your dog’s eyes look: dirty, present eye discharge or ulcers, appear itchy, you need to make sure that you address the situation. Taking care and cleaning out a dog’s eye boogers can be a tricky process, and therefore needs to be done with extreme care. If not treated, dirty unclean dog eyes can worsen into eye infections, ulcers or sties, therefore it is important that we know how to take care of them.

In this AnimalWised article, we will discuss: the main signs of ocular affection, how to examine a dog’s eyes, how to extract a foreign body from an eye and how to clean your dog’s eyes.

You may also be interested in: Cleaning the Eyes of a Cat
  1. Cleaning dog eyes: dog eye structure
  2. How to clean dog eyes
  3. How to clean dog’s eye infection
  4. Cleaning dog eyes: how to apply dog eye drops
  5. Cleaning a dog’s eyes: removing foreign objects from dog’s eye
  6. Cleaning a dog

Cleaning dog eyes: dog eye structure

A dog’s eyeball is surrounded by the sclera, which is inserted into the orbital cavity and protected by the eyelids and eyelashes, which are responsible for preventing any entry of foreign bodies. The transparent front area of the eye is the cornea. In the center of the eye, we have the pupil surrounded by the iris, a pigmented membrane that has the ability to contract in reaction to light. The conjunctiva is the membrane that covers the part which we see of the sclera. The conjunctiva contains blood vessels and nerve endings and can sometimes swell and redden, which is known as an infection common in dogs called conjunctivitis . This infection causes the presentation of a third eyelid in the inner corner of the eye, known as the nictitating membrane, which is not usually visible. In addition, each eye has two lacrimal glands. Tears prevent the cornea from drying out and help fight infection.

Dogs are myopic and have a spectrum of distinguishing only some colors. They have a strong peripheral vision and good in depth moving vision but suffer from a moderate absence of light. These shortcomings are supplemented by their incredibly strong hearing and smelling abilities.

Because of eye weaknesses, dogs are often prone to eye infections. Therefore, it is essential to know how to clean your dog’s eyes and how to administer drugs if a pathology is presented.

How to clean dog eyes

If you want to know how to clean dog eye crust, boogers or stains, you’ve come to the right place! When cleaning a dog’s eyes of boogers, tea bags or stains, the first thing that must be taken into account is the periocular area. If our dog has abundant hair that grows towards the eyes you should: either comb it so that the eyes are not obstructed, or cut it off. If you don’t do this, it is possible that the contact of hair with the eyes can produce irritation.

This same discomfort can also appear when eyelashes come into contact with the eyes. Some dogs have a congenital condition that involves the growth of an extra row of eyelashes at the edge of the eyelid. These eyelashes usually tend to grow inwards and brush the inside of the eye. This can irritate the eye to the point that an ulcer may occur in the cornea. This problem is called Distiquiasis and should be treated by a veterinarian. It is normal for our dog to produce mucus in the eye area. To clean this mucus, eye boogers or ‘‘eye gunk’’ we recommend following these tips when you want to clean your dog’s eyes:

  • Dogs eyes are very sensitive and should always be approached gently and calmly. You should accustom your dog to eye cleaning from its puppy stage. Logically, when you intend to touch your pets eyes they will instinctively close them. You should try and delicately open them with you our index and thumb fingers observing the separation of eyelids.
  • If we observe that our dog has eye secretion in their eyes you should always clean them from the inside to the outside of the eye, repeating gentles brushes in this aforementioned direction.
  • We recommend using a gauze or cotton soaked in saline, to clean the eyes. You can buy this serum in a single-dose format which is easy to use and throw away.
  • It is important to use a different gauze or cotton pad for each eye to avoid transferring germs from one to the other.
  • If you find a hardened secretion in the eye which is difficult to clean, you can heat the serum a little and/or soak the eye (pouring the serum directly) allowing the mucus to soften and be removed easily.
How To Clean Dog’s Eyes - How to clean dog eyes

How to clean dog’s eye infection

Once you know how to clean your dog's eyes, you should be able to notice any alterations that indicate an eye infection. You must pay attention that a dog’s eyes always maintain the same size, shape and color and, very importantly, produces no abnormal secretion. If you notice that the: nictitating membrane (third eyelid) is present, that there is coloration on the cornea or that your dog is experiencing any pain when touching its eyes: you should look at the affected area and look for any injury or foreign body. Common signs of ocular infection (eye infection in dogs) include:

  • Lachrymation
  • Frequent blinking
  • Squinting
  • Itching (we will see that the dog rubs its eyes with its paws or seeks to rub its eyes objects)
  • Pain
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • A visible nictitating membrane
  • Secretion
  • Redness
  • Whitish or opaque coloring of the eye
  • Soft or hard consistency of the eye
  • Inflamed eyelids
  • Scabs
  • Loss of hair in the periocular area
  • Eye bulging or sunken eyes

If you notice any of these symptoms we suggest visiting your veterinarian as soon as possible and treating the infected eye area appropriately. For more about dog eye infections, we recommend reading: Why does my dog scratch its eyes?

How To Clean Dog’s Eyes - How to clean dog’s eye infection

Cleaning dog eyes: how to apply dog eye drops

Before giving eye drops to a dog (or any other medication) you need to make sure that the eye is clean.

To administer ointment we suggest following these guidelines:

  1. Gently pull the lower eyelid, from the skin of the cheek, and deposit a small amount of the ointment in the gap created between the eyelid and the eye.
  2. Close the eye, applying a gentle massage on the area, spreading the ointment.
  3. Clean any surplus with a gauze or cotton swab dipped in physiological saline.

To administer eye drops to a dog, we suggest following these guidelines:

  1. Directly putting the drops on the eyeball, separating the eyelids carefully with your index and thumb fingers.
  2. For this application the dog's head should be tilted upwards.
  3. These applications have to be repeated several times a day for at least a week.Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate treatment and dosage.
How To Clean Dog’s Eyes - Cleaning dog eyes: how to apply dog eye drops

Cleaning a dog’s eyes: removing foreign objects from dog’s eye

Foreign bodies such as seeds, plant particles, spikes or splinters can often be found in dogs' eyes. Risk factors include: traveling by car with its head outside the window or walking among dense vegetation.

If your dog is scratching its eyes with its legs or against objects, and if there appears to be tearing, blinking, secretion or protrusion of the third eyelid, you can assume there might be a foreign body in its eye. To remove this foreign body we suggest opening the eyelids gently, as previously mentioned, and applying serum directly. Another way to do this is by soaking a cotton ball in the serum and squeezing the liquid so that it falls onto the eye, without actually touching the eye. Sometimes this irrigation manages to eliminate the foreign body completely. If this is not the case and you cannot seem to remove the foreign body, we suggest visiting your veterinarian as soon as possible in order to avoid further infection.

For more about cleaning your dog’s eyes, take a look at our article on: Removing stains from Poodles eyes.

Cleaning a dog

For more on the topic of cleaning your dog, take a look at our AnimalWised Youtube Video below!

If you want to read similar articles to How To Clean Dog’s Eyes, we recommend you visit our Eye care category.

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1 comment
My kittens third eyelid is showing, he’s had antibiotics and a hydration gel and it’s still there please help
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Becky,

This is a medical problem for the kitten and requires veterinary supervision. You can call the vet who prescribed the antibiotics as they will need to know if their treatment is not working.
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How To Clean Dog’s Eyes