Eye problems

My Dog Has Green Eye Discharge

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 5, 2021
My Dog Has Green Eye Discharge

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Eye discharge is a common phenomenon in dogs, just as it is with humans. What we might refer to as sleep, or even eye boogers, is something known scientifically as rhuem. Rhuem is present in the nostrils and mouth also, but it is particularly common in the eyes. While it is normally completely harmless and can be removed easily, when the discharge changes color or occurs excessively, it might be the sign of an underlying problem.

At AnimalWised, we look into why my dog has green eye discharge. We look at the causes and treatment of this issue and reveal which dog breeds may have it more than others.

You may also be interested in: My Dog Has Green and Yellow Eye Boogers
  1. Cause of eye discharge
  2. Breed related eye problems
  3. Treatment for green eye discharge in dogs
  4. Preventing green eye discharge in dogs

Cause of eye discharge

Although it can be normal for a dog to wake up with some crusted discharge at the side of the eye, it will depend on the cause. Apart from sleep in the eye, the main reason for such a discharge will be infection. However, the reason for the infection may be a secondary effect of an underlying health condition.

The color of the discharge is important, but it can also be difficult to determine due to causes sharing symptoms. Green mucus discharge, for example, could be sign of an infection, but rhuem is also green in color. This is why we need to look at related symptoms. The causes of green eye discharge in dogs include:

  • Rheum: as we stated in the introduction, this is a thin mucus which seeps slowly from the eyes, nose and/or mouth. It can also collect dust particles, partly why it can be so crusty. It does not usually indicate any underlying problem and will usually fall away from the eye of its own accord.

  • Corneal ulcer: dogs like to explore by nature, sniffing anything they encounter and entering places they shouldn't. When this is somewhere with sharp objects, such as a thicket or even the corner of a table, they can receive trauma to the eye. Even a small wound left untreated can become infected, especially if the dog keeps scratching the area. If you see the dog has green discharge, take a look after cleaning the area for any blemishes on the cornea. If there is sign of trauma or infection, take them to the veterinarian.

  • Conjunctivitis: the conjunctiva are mucus membranes which cover the inside of the dog's eyelids. When they are infected, they become inflamed which leads to conjunctivitis. Causes of this infection are varied, so you will need to take them to the veterinarian to determine their cause.

  • Foreign object: when something enters the eye, it can cause injuries which become infected. Also, due to the sensitivity of the eye, dirt on the object can introduce bacteria. The object can be very small with even small grains of material resulting in green discharge. Since this area is so sensitive, a veterinary professional will need to remove the object.

  • Eye disease: diseases such as entropion or ectropion cause irritations to the eye which can result in discharge. You will need to take them to the veterinarian to achieve a correct diagnosis and prognosis.

  • Autoimmune diseases: there are various diseases in dogs which can weaken their immune system, including canine distemper or hepatitis. The dog will present with various symptoms, but green discharge from the eyes occurs because their body's defenses have been weakened. A veterinary examination will be required to determine the cause.

Breed related eye problems

There are certain breeds which are more likely to suffer from eye discharge than others. This is due to the negative consequences of selective breeding. Many breeds have been bred for their appearance, something which is not always beneficial to their health. Not only does a smaller gene pool increase the risk of hereditary disease, but often the desired look of a breed brings its own problems.

Brachycephalic dog breeds, such as Pugs, Pekingese and Bulldogs, have a shorter soft palate and snout. This leads to respiratory problems, but it can also cause their eyes to bulge out of their sockets. This can lead to excessively teary eyes which are more prone to infection. Dog breeds which are more likely to have eye problems include:

  • Boxer
  • English Bulldog
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Boston Terrier
  • Shih Tzu
  • French Bulldog
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shar Pei
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Some dogs will also have a genetic history which is linked to eye problems, even mixed dog breeds. However, it is not always easy to tell. Other dogs may not be directly linked to eye problems, but a propensity toward disease which compromises their immune system can result in more green discharge than usual.

Treatment for green eye discharge in dogs

The first thing you will need to do if you see green discharge from your dog's eyes, is determine if it is rheum. If the dog has just woken up, it might still be fresh and moist. However, if it has had time to dry, it will be encrusted. Dogs cannot always reach their eyes to remove these themselves, but they usually fall out fairly easily on their own.

If the green pus from the dog's eyes is excessive, then you will need to take them to a veterinarian. Examinations and diagnostic tests will be carried out to determine the underlying cause. Once this happens, the treatment will be based on said cause.

Since green eye discharge is most often caused by infections, antibiotics will be prescribed if it is an acute bacterial problem. Antiviral medication may be prescribed to the dog for a virus, but often management of the other symptoms is what is required.

When the problem is an immune system disorder or underlying pathology, then treatment of this problem is required. However, it is possible that these diseases are chronic and management of the symptoms will be the best course of action. This may also involve the use of a specialized diet to help boost their immune system in either the long or short term.

Green discharge is not the only color of discharge. If you see red or brown discharge coming from the eyes, there may be bleeding. Our article on causes of bloodshot eyes in dogs will help you to know more.

My Dog Has Green Eye Discharge - Treatment for green eye discharge in dogs

Preventing green eye discharge in dogs

The best way to prevent green discharge from your dog's eyes is to clean them regularly. This will depend on the needs of the individual dog. If they are a breed more likely to have teary eyes, they will need cleaned at least once or twice a week. Some white dog breeds may have eye discharge more than others. For example, white Poodles will need their eyes cleaned to prevent the discharge staining the fur around their eyes.

Cleaning the dog's eyes is easy, but you need to ensure you have the right material. Only use clean water or saline solution and ensure the gauze you use to wipe is also clean. Using dirty cloths or other materials can make the situation worse by introducing bacteria to the eyes.

Maintaining the dog's general health is the best thing you can do for them to prevent abnormal eye discharge. Ensure they have a balanced diet, keep them hydrated with plenty of fresh clean water and provide sufficient exercise. Vaccination and deworming schedules also helps to prevent disease, Regular veterinary checkups helps improve prognosis if they do develop an illness.

To see how to clean a dog's eyes at home, check out our help tutorial in the video below:

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Has Green Eye Discharge, we recommend you visit our Eye problems category.

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What did you think of this article?
"Completely harmful" you mean "completely harmless"
Matthew Nesbitt (AnimalWised editor)
Hi Ella,

We did, thank you for pointing out our mistake. The typo has been fixed.
Opening statement it is completely harmful why would I read any further you can’t even fix or take the time to edit what your publishing how do I know what’s accurate if this is completely harmful but easily fixed
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi AnnMarie,

We are not sure what you are referring to. The opening statement simply refers to a common reason for green eye discharge. The article then reveals other possible causes.
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My Dog Has Green Eye Discharge