Eye Discharge in Dogs
Another common question asked in everyday small animal veterinary practice is, “Why does my dog or cat have runny eyes?” Both canine eye discharge and feline eye discharge can have many causes. In some breeds of pets such as the Persian cat or Boxer, the flattened conformation of the face often leads to tear buildup in the skin folds in the corners of the eyes. Many times these mild discharges bother the owner more than the pet, and so I often advise clients to leave such issues alone.
Other times eye discharge can sometimes indicate bacterial or viral infections, or can be commonly seen in pets with allergies. If the discharge is thick or discolored yellow or green, then a veterinary exam is certainly recommended. Sometimes such pets can also have upper respiratory symptoms of sneezing and nasal discharge, which is usually best diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian. Many other pets can have eye discharges because of clogged tear ducts, which again is best evaluated by your veterinarian who can often flush the tear ducts to allow the tears to flow easier, avoiding buildup in the corners of the eyes.
Many dilute colored breeds will often have dark staining under their eyes because of certain pigments in the tears and/or clogged tear ducts, and many clients will often ask about medications to improve the dark discoloration under these pets’ eyes commonly seen in breeds like the Maltese. There is a very effective product called Angels’ Eyes for dogs and cats that does in fact work quite well; however, it relies on the use of using an oral antibiotic called Tylosin, which in my opinion if used long term can lead to imbalance of bacterial populations in the digestive tract and antibiotic resistance of bacteria. That is why I prefer not to use such a product long term. Many dogs develop conditions where their eyes don’t produce adequate tears called dry eye or keratitis sicca, which can lead to a thick mucous buildup on the surface or cornea of the eye. I have found lubricants such as Puralube Vet Ointment and LiquiTears sometimes a more practical economic alternative than the more expensive Optimmune prescribed by many veterinarians. Also I have learned that using a drop or two of Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil directly in the eyes 3 to 4 times daily, as well as giving it orally can also help soothe inflamed, dry or ulcerated eyes.
If the above treatments do not help or your pets eyes are severely red or light sensitive, or develops a reluctance to open the eyes or they appear in spasm, it’s always best to have a veterinary exam to rule out more serious eye infections or ulcers, as well as deeper diseases of the eyes such as glaucoma or uveitis. For simple infections or eye ulcers, I have found the inexpensive prescription antibiotics such as Terramycin or B.N.P. Triple Antibiotic Ophthalmic Ointment as effective as some of the more expensive prescription drugs. Neo Poly Dex Opthalmic eye drops are wonderful for those allergic eye inflammations, as long as your vet has ruled out corneal ulcers or scratches first.
Due to the importance of the eyes and the potential for more serious eye conditions, if a client is ever in doubt, it is always best to have a proper eye exam by either a general veterinary practitioner, or a veterinary ophthalmologist, who specializes in eye diseases, in order to rule out more serious diseases of the cornea and inner sections of the eyes.