Ocular (Eye) Discharge in Dogs

Overview of Ocular (Eye) Discharge in Dogs

Ocular discharge is a common sign of eye disease in dogs. Abnormal discharge may develop suddenly or gradually. The discharge may be watery, mucoid (gray, ropy), mucopurulent (yellow-green, thickened) or bloody. In general, the more discharge present, the more serious the disease.

Causes of Canine Eye Discharge

Diagnosis of Ocular Discharge in Dogs

Certain diagnostic tests are essential to determine the precise cause of the ocular discharge, including:

Additional diagnostic tests are required to diagnose some causes of ocular discharge. These may include:

Treatment of Ocular Discharge in Dogs

Successful therapy relies on obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Do NOT use human over-the-counter eye drops that are designed to treat red eyes.

Home Care

Gently clean away any eye discharge with a warm moist cloth as needed until the cause of the problem is identified. Do not allow your pet to rub or self-traumatize the eyes.

Do not delay in bringing your pet to your veterinarian for examination as some causes of excessive ocular discharge are potentially vision threatening and require immediate medical attention. Do not administer human prescription eye medicine or even over-the-counter medicines such as Visine® or other topical solutions intended to reduce eye redness to your pet. The underlying cause for the problem must be properly addressed.

As a temporary measure, the eyes may be flushed or the eyelids cleansed with sterile saline solution.

In-depth Information on Ocular Discharge in Dogs

It is important to understand that any source of ocular irritation or pain can cause ocular discharge. Abnormal ocular discharge is not diagnostic of any one disease or disorder. In the simplest sense, ocular discharge represents the response of the eye to an irritation, injury, or an inability to drain tears or secretions properly. The exact cause can only be determined by a careful examination and appropriate diagnostic tests.

Observe your pet for any change in eye discharge. A minor amount of eye discharge is normal; however, any change from what is normal for your pet may be significant.

Decisive therapy for ocular discharge depends on identifying the exact cause of the problem. There are numerous possible inciting causes for ocular discharge. It is essential to distinguish a specific cause to provide the appropriate therapy.


Among the potential causes of ocular discharge are the following disorders:

Diagnosis In-depth

Initial test results and/or lack of response to initial treatments may necessitate further testing:

Treatment In-depth

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause eye discharge.