Just like humans have crusty eyes when they first wake up in the morning, so do dogs. However, dogs don’t have hands to quickly wipe it away. This is why it’s important for pet owners to be vigilant in caring for their dog’s eyes and other places that dogs can’t quite reach on their own. 

Dog eye crust can be caused by a number of issues including allergies, irritants, or some more serious health concerns. You’ll need to gauge your dog’s behavior, and take them to a veterinarian when you recognize the signs of discomfort. At Anasazi Animal Clinic, we offer routine wellness exams as well as urgent care services for when your dog’s “off days” feel a bit too long. 

Types of Eye Discharge

While some types of eye crust are normal in dogs, others are the result of serious health issues. Differentiating between the different types of discharge can give you insight as to the best treatment plan for your pet.

  • Small amount of crust: usually formed out of tears, oil, mucus, dust, etc. and most prominent in the morning after sleep. As long as the amount of goop doesn’t exceed what’s normal for your dog, it can be easily removed by wiping their eyes with a warm, wet cloth. 
  • Watery Eyes: can be caused by allergies, something in the eye, an abnormality, a blocked tear duct, an eye wound, or glaucoma. If the seasons recently changed and your dog doesn’t appear to be experiencing much discomfort, watery eyes aren’t usually cause for concern. 
  • Reddish-Brown Tear Stains: usually just a cosmetic concern for lighter dogs. Can be treated by wiping the area several times a day, keeping the fur trimmed short, and giving your dog a natural supplement. 
  • White-Gray Mucus: a result of dog dry eye. Dogs with this condition can’t produce enough tears, so their bodies compensate with mucus. This causes red and painful eyes, and can lead to blindness if left untreated. 
  • Yellow or Green Eye Discharge: result of an eye infection. Getting antibiotics from your veterinarian can easily solve this. 

Eye Diseases in Dogs


Epiphora, or water eyes, is often the result of abnormal eyelashes, inflammation, allergies, ulcers, tumors, or eye pain. It can be treated with antibiotics, steroids, or surgery. 

The plethora of causes means that as an owner you must carefully monitor the area surrounding your dog’s eyes. Noting changes in morning discharge and wateriness can make all the difference in an early diagnosis. 

Dog Dry Eye

Dog dry eye can be the result of an injury, or the result of your dog’s immune system attacking the tear-producing glands. As a coping mechanism for dry eye, mucus will form in the place of tears. However, mucus does not perform all the same functions as tears, and it could lead to pain and inflammation. 

In more serious cases, ulcers can form on your dogs eyelids from excessive eye scratching. Treatment for dry eye includes artificial tears, antibiotics, immunosuppressant drugs, and at times, surgery. 

Eye Crust Prevention

We recommend keeping your dog’s hair short around the eyes. Continuous cleaning around the eyes with a wet cloth will alleviate any discomfort your dog may be experiencing. Be wary of changes in the weather as well as any possible allergies. 

To check if there are any issues present, pull open your dog’s lower eyelids and check the color. If there is any white, you should call your veterinarian for a checkup. 

Schedule a Wellness Exam Today

At Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert, we always treat your pets with loving care. If your pet is experiencing discomfort associated with eye crust, please contact us right away. We are committed to your dog’s happiness and prolonged health. 

Photo by Mazlin Massey on Unsplash