How To Clean (and Soften) Dog Eye Boogers: Here’s What You Need To Know

Eye boogers are a problem for many dog owners, not least because they can be so difficult to clean.

But the good news is that there are some tricks you can use to get rid of them – whether they’re crusty or not.

In this guide, we’ll give you the lowdown on how to remove eye boogers from your pup’s eyes so their vision stays clear (and so they don’t run the risk of infection!)

We’ll also look at ways in which you might be able to prevent eye booger production altogether.

Let’s get started.

What Causes Dog Eye Boogers?

There are several reasons why your dog might start producing eye boogers (also known as eye discharge).

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common possibilities.


A dog’s eyes are a very sensitive part of their body.

When they come into contact with something that triggers an allergy, it can cause the tissue around the eye to become agitated, and excessive tearing may result.

It’s possible for dust and pollen to get stuck around your dog’s eyes (and under the eyelids), and if your pup spends time outside, rolling in grass or mud, they might end up covered in allergens and develop allergic reactions.

Allergies are often seasonal – so if you’re noticing your dog producing excess eye boogers during the spring and summer months, allergies may be a reason.

Epiphora (Excessive Eye Watering)

Eye boogers might also be a natural result of excessive watering from your dog’s eyes.

If your dog’s eyes are producing more tears than usual, it can cause the area around the eye to become moist and sticky.

The technical name for this is “epiphora” –and it’s very common for flat-faced dogs in particular.

It’s usually a symptom of insufficient drainage from the tear ducts or the result of a deformity of some kind.

Dry Eyes

The opposite of excessive eye watering is having eyes that are too dry… but it can lead to similar problems with eye boogers as well.

Ordinarily, your dog’s tears will keep the eye moist and sweep away any debris that finds its way there… but when the eyes are too dry… the gunk builds up over time and eventually forms an eye booger.

In some cases, a vet may give you medication that stimulates the tear gland, and this can help to prevent the crusty eye boogers from forming in the first place.


Another possibility is conjunctivitis. 

This condition results in both the outer layer of the eye and inner eyelid becoming inflamed. 

It causes irritation and inflammation, leading to redness and swelling of the eye. It often results in excessive tearing and sometimes even pus formation.

Your vet should be able to diagnose this easily enough by taking a closer look at your dog, and it may require antibiotics to adequately treat. 

When Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog’s Eye Boogers?

The color and consistency of the boogers will tell you a lot about their potential cause.

If your dog’s eye boogers can be described as yellow or greenish in color, then you should definitely take them to the vet. This could indicate a bacterial infection that needs treatment.

If your dog’s eyes are producing a white-gray mucus, then it could be a sign they’re suffering from dry eye, which will also require the help of a vet.

You may need to put some eye ointment on your dog’s eyes to treat these conditions, as well as flush away any gunk so your dog can keep their vision as clear as possible.

Remember: If you’re concerned about your dog’s eyes in any way, it’s important to check with a vet as soon as possible. It’s often easier to treat these conditions sooner rather than later.

Should You Actually Clean A Dog’s Eye Boogers?

If you’ve noticed any signs of redness, soreness, or colored discharge in your dog’s eyes, it may indicate an infection, especially if they’re pawing at their eye or showing other signs of discomfort.

In this case, it’s wise to take your pooch to the vet to have them checked out properly, especially if there’s an ocular discharge with a color.

But if you’re simply dealing with eye boogers, then it’s a good idea to clean them regularly so your dog’s vision isn’t impaired, so there’s less risk of any infection occurring.

How To Clean (and Soften) Dog Eye Boogers: Here's What You Need To Know 3

How to Soften and Clean Your Dog’s Eye Boogers

Now that you’ve decided to clean your dog’s eye boogers, you may run into the problem of finding them too hard or crusty to easily remove.

If so, you’re about to discover what you can do (and what you should avoid, too).

First of all, you don’t want to try using your fingers to remove those eye boogers. Doing so is likely to add bacteria to the area, and this only makes the risk of infection rise. 

Use a Warm, Soft Cloth

A warm flannel can be an effective way to soften up those eye boogers.

You’ll need to get the temperature warm enough to make a difference to the booger, but not so hot as to make it uncomfortable for your dog.

It may require a little experimentation, but once you get it right, simply hold the warm, wet cloth over your dog’s closed eye for around 30 seconds.

Depending on how crusty the eye booger has become, it may take a few tries.

But go slow and take your time.

Afterward, you can use a clean cotton ball, cotton pad, or a simple wet washcloth to wipe those crusty boogers away (remembering not to use your fingers).

Use Dog-Friendly Eye Wipes

You could also use a dog-friendly eye wipe for the purpose of wiping away those eye boogers.

In fact, having some of these handy is always a good idea when you have a dog who’s prone to excess tears. 

These wipes usually contain antibacterial ingredients, they’re easy to apply, and most importantly, they won’t irritate your dog’s sensitive skin.

Try an Eye Comb

Another effective way to remove those eye boogers (especially once they’ve been softened up) is to use an eye comb.

These small devices are surprisingly useful and very easy to use.

Plus it’s great to have one of these combs nearby when you own any breed that has long facial fur, such as the Shih Tzu, for example.

Try Canine Eye Drops

Getting some quality canine-friendly eye drops that are designed for this purpose may be worthwhile, as they can help you tackle the eye crust before it develops even more.

The solution will be non-toxic and doesn’t contain any harsh chemical ingredients, so they’re less likely to cause any irritation to the area. What’s more, they can be especially useful for removing those crusty areas that are difficult to reach otherwise.

It’s also possible to use saline solution, but many find that specially designed eye drops are easier and gentler to use.

Try Dog Tear Stain Remover

These tear stain removers are designed to remove tear staining from the dog’s eyes, but they can also help to soften any dried-out eye boogers, too… so they’re not just for a light-colored dog, after all.

Just follow the directions on the package and wipe away those dried-up boogers once you’re able to do so.

Not only will it help to keep tear stains at bay, but it’ll also help you tackle the crusty eye area problem in general.

Trim Excess Hair Around the Eyes

When your dog has longer hair around the eye area, it’s important to keep this trimmed, so it doesn’t collect eye gunk.

Certain small, flat-faced breeds can struggle with this problem, so it’s wise to make sure the hair doesn’t contribute to the issue.

You’re not alone if you feel a little nervous about trimming this area, so it might be best to have an experienced dog groomer tackle the task for you instead!

Final Thoughts

Keeping your dog’s eyes clean from eye crust is important for good eye health, so it’s useful to try these methods for cleaning your dog’s eyes… but only if you’re not worried about doing more harm than good.

Remember: If your pooch has an eye infection or the boogers are related to an uncomfortable dry eye condition, then it’s probably best to let the vet take care of things.

But if you’re confident enough to tackle the problem of crusty eye discharge yourself, then it’s worth giving some of these tips a try.

You’ll see that softening up those eye boogers is relatively straightforward and easy, and it’ll soon become part of your dog’s regular grooming routine.