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How To Soften Your Dog’s Eye Gunk

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Sometimes you wake up and find your eyes stuck together with what my mother likes to call “Fairy Dust”. The sandman has come and created a crusty little nugget in the corners of your eyes.

It doesn’t even have to be night time. You could wipe your face after binge watching Netflix, and notice the hardened texture in between your fingertips.

This eye gunk phenomenon happens to your dog as well, and unlike you, they don’t have opposable thumbs to delicately remove those gross eye boogers.

So, as their owners, we have to help them out every now and then. But how do you do it? When your dog’s eye gunk has crusted up, it can be hard to budge.

If you pull you too much, you can hurt your buddy. Like brushing a knot out of someone else’s hair, it can be hard to figure out how to do a good job without causing some pain. So what do you do?

Well lucky for you, my dog’s eyes are constantly crusty so I have first hand knowledge of some great methods to help your pooch out!

But first, you should know why your dog gets this eye gunk, and what you should be keeping an eye out for when you wipe away the sandman’s present.

Why do dogs get gunk in their eye?

It is normal for dogs (and humans!) to get gunk in their eyes. The term is actually called eye drainage or eye discharge, and it’s because your eyes are constantly producing tears.

No, I’m not accusing your dog of constantly crying! Tears are an important barrier against dust and infection. It is made up of water, oil, and mucous, and this mixture stops foreign objects from getting too close to the actual eyeball.

If you have an eyelash stuck in your eye, or if you’re at the beach and the wind whips sand in your face, your eyes will start to produce tears.

It is a natural response to the situation. But those grains of sand and wayward eyelashes need to go somewhere when your tears wash them away.

The mixture of goop that your body creates, will capture those foreign objects and then eject them as part of the drainage system!

However, if the discharge is thick or a strange color, your dog might be struggling to complete a proper cycle of eye drainage, meaning that they are experiencing some health issues.

Should I Be Worried About My Dog’s Eye Gunk?

We have to remember that eye boogers are normal, but if your dog has streams of tears as if they were crying like a human, or if the color is odd, then you should look into what could be the problem before you wipe the evidence away. 

Really Watery Eye Gunk

If your dog has really watery eye gunk, then it could be that the eye is irritated. This could happen if there is a scratch in your pooches eye or if they are reacting to seasonal allergies.

That’s right! Dogs, like humans, can suffer from seasonal allergies like hay fever for instance. Some dogs are even allergic to dust or pollen. If this watery condition is happening in spring or summer, then this might be what is happening to your dog! 

The pollen gets trapped under the dog’s eyelids which causes the irritation, and their dog’s body overcompensates by creating a lot of discharge in an attempt to flush it out. 

There are also other allergies that could be causing the watery eye gunk, which you might not be expecting. Food allergies and skin allergies can cause your dog’s body to try and flush out the problem area.

Confused, the body might do this in every way it knows how to, which includes the eyes. 

If you think your dog is having an allergic reaction, go to see your veterinarian because they can confirm your worries and give you the right medication for the situation.

Once you know what your dog is going through you can be prepared for those seasonal or occasional issues. 

White-Gray Mucusy Eye Gunk

White-gray eye gunk is also called Dry Eye or Keratoconjunctivitis. If you are seeing this in your dog then it is a worrying sign.

Dry Eye is a condition that develops when a dog’s immune system attacks its own body. It destroys the glands which produce your dog’s tears, and as I said before, your dog needs those tears to protect their eyes.

With fewer tears to protect themselves, your dog’s body will try and compensate and so it creates more mucus to keep the eye protected.

But tears are meant to be made of water and oil as well. The mucus is too thick by itself, so your dog’s eye will become red and painful.

It can even develop ulcers due to the irritation, and if the ulcers are left untreated, your dog will end up blinded by the illness.

If you see this in your dog and don’t go for treatment, then the Dry Eye will cause severe discomfort and end in blindness for your poor pooch. 

Head to the vets and they will do a simple procedure called a Schirmer Tear Test to confirm if this is the problem. They can give you treatment to keep your dog’s eyes lubricated, and they will be able to see how badly your dog’s health has been affected. 

Yellowy Greeny Eye Gunk

If you see yellow or green discharge coming from your dog’s eye, then that is a clear sign of an eye infection. You will probably also notice that the eye itself is slightly red, and your dog might be acting in a way that tells you they are comfortable. 

Eye infections will become a big problem for you and your dog if left untreated. It could have been caused by any number of factors, including other conditions if your dog has been suffering from something else recently.

If your dog’s natural defenses are weakened, then they will be susceptible to infections all over their body. Your dog’s eyes will be a quick area to become ill as they are delicate, and one of the only organs which are so open to the world.

If you notice this change in your dog’s eye then take them to the vets as soon as you can!

How to Soften Your Dog’s Eye Gunk

How to soften dog eye boogers

Having read through the scary part about how eye gunk can be a sign that something is wrong with your dog’s health, it’s time to remember that eye gunk is normal and unless the gunk is streaming, white or green, then your dog is fine!

So now we should dive into why you are really here! How do you soften your dog’s eye gunk? There are two ways to do this, and if you are in a rush have a look at my quick summary to help you dab the goo away!

Quick Way to Soften your Dog’s Eye Gunk

Grab a warm flannel, washcloth, or a kitchen towel. Make sure that the material is damp with warm water, and gently press the towel against your dog’s eye.

The eye booger will soften after a couple of seconds or minutes, and then you can softly wipe it away from the corner of your dog’s eye.

The second way to get rid of your dog’s eye gunk is to use an eye drop made especially for dogs. The eye drop should contain a softening ingredient to flush the gunk out safely and on its own. You should only need to do this if the gunk is super hard or if it is a recurring issue. Otherwise, the flannel is a cheap, effective, and natural solution to this problem.

Washcloth and Warm Water

This is a classic answer to the question “How to soften your dog’s eye gunk” and it should work perfectly for your dog too. All you need to do is grab a clean washcloth, flannel, kitchen towel, or any material that is soft and can absorb water.

Then soak it in warm water. If it is too cold the water will take a longer time to soften the crusty little nugget, and if it is too hot the temperature will upset your buddy.

When you are happy with the temperature of your washcloth, hold it over the area of the eye which has the hardened crust.

Keep it there for 15 to 30 seconds to allow the warm water to seep into the eye’s discharge and soften the area. After this time you should be able to gently wipe away the goop.

Simple and Easy! I like to use washcloths that are also mitten, like the Made Easy Bath Mitt. It allows you to put your hand in the cloth like a mitten would, which is perfect for when you are trying to keep your dog still. It allows you to keep a lot of movement and control in your hands, which let’s face it, you’re going to need!

Eye drops for Dogs

If you want eye drops for your dog, I would suggest you talk to a vet first to confirm the issues that your dog is going through.

Once you know the problem you can figure out the best solution! I will recommend some doggy eye drops for you soon, but first I’ll tell you how to use them. 

First, you want to use a  cotton swab to wipe away any discharge that you can. Then you need to rest your hand over the eye in question, with the drops in that same hand.

Try and lower the tube to about half a centimeter above the eye and keep it at an angle. This will give you a better chance of not touching your dog’s eye in the process.

You want only one drop to land on the affected eye. When it hits let your dog blink, this will allow the solution to do its work. 

Eye Drops for Allergies

If you want an eye drop for your dog’s seasonal allergies, then I would recommend Vetericyn Plus eye wash. This eye drop is designed specifically for dogs who suffer from seasonal allergies like hay fever.

You should use it 3 or 4 times a day until the allergies no longer seem to be affecting your pooch.

You don’t need to rinse your dog’s face after you’ve used it, and if your pup accidentally licks the bottle you don’t have to worry about gestational damage, as the solution is safe for your dog. 

Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

The I-DROP VET PLUS is a lubricating eye drop designed specifically for pets. It brings immediate and lasting hydration and lubrication to your dog’s eyes.

Because the I-DROP continually refreshes and stabilizes the tear film in your dog’s eyes, you won’t need to apply the drops as often as some other brands. Twice a day should be enough to help your dog recover. 


Remember that if you are concerned for your dog and the eye gunk descriptions I gave you sound familiar to what you are seeing in your friend, then head to your veterinarian first and foremost.

Otherwise, a warm washcloth is all you need to wipe away your dog’s strangely strong crusty Fairy Dust. 

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.