How To Soften Dog Eye Boogers – Guide

Dog eye boogers are not a glamorous topic. However, being a loving and devoted dog parent includes dealing with specific not-so-glamorous issues daily. Removing your dog’s eye boogers may seem easy, but it can harm the eyes and impair its vision unless done correctly.

How to soften dog eye boogers? While you can simply wipe away small boogers with a clean tissue or a cotton ball, big and hardened boogers require a more delicate approach. Namely, it would be best to soften the boogers with sterile saline, or eye drops formulated for dogs and then remove them with a clean tissue or cotton ball. It goes without saying that you need to wash your hands thoroughly before touching your dog’s eyes.

Proper removal of the eye boogers is an integral part of carrying for your dog’s eye health. There are many misconceptions and potentially dangerous booger removal tips. In this article, we will explain what dog boogers are and why they form. We will also explain what to do and what not to do when dealing with these nasty formations.

What are eye boogers?

The scientific term for eye boogers is ocular discharge or eye discharge. However, regardless of the name you prefer, eye boogers are a mixture of dried tears and debris particles like dust and pollen.

Normally, the tears are made of water, fats, and mucus. These particles can be easily flushed through the canals connecting the eye and nose.

However, when debris particles start adding up to the mixture, they increase the viscosity and prevent proper drainage. And this is when eye boogers develop. Usually, the eye boogers tend to accumulate within the inner corner of the eyes.

What are the different types of eye boogers?

The average eye boogers are of medium viscosity and greyish due to the debris presence. If the eye boogers start developing excessively or change color and viscosity, it means something is going on with your dog’s eyes.

Usually, clear and watery eye boogers are associated with allergic reactions and simple irritations. For example, hair is trapped under the eyelid.

Green and yellow, thicker boogers are a sign of eye infections – dry eye or conjunctivitis. These thicker and yellow to green boogers are usually accompanied by additional eye changes such as reddening of the eyes, excessive tearing, and visible itchiness.

Why does my dog have thick eye boogers?

There are several reasons why your dog may have thick eye boogers. Some are normal, while others require prompt and adequate veterinary attention.


Certain dog breeds are more likely to forming eye boogers because of their facial anatomies and constant low-grade tearing.

Dogs with particularly deep-set eyes such as Labrador and Golden Retrievers and bug-eyed dogs like the Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers are predisposed to excessive booger formation.

These breeds require more frequent eye cleanings than most dogs who need their eyes clean only after sleeping.


Eye irritations result in excessive tearing, and excessive tearing results in more pronounced eye boogers formation.

There are many irritation causes – from allergies through foreign bodies to ulcers. All eye irritation cases require veterinary attention and treatment because they can quickly progress and worsen the situation.

Tear duct drainage problems

In this case, the tear production is normal, and the eye is healthy, but the duct responsible for draining the excess tears does not work properly.

This can occur due to genetic malformation in the duct’s development or if the duct becomes obstructed. In both cases, it is vital to seek veterinary help.

Should you remove your dog’s eye boogers?

Although some hygiene-obsessed dogs may try to eliminate their boogers on their own, pawing at the eyes and excessive scratching can worsen the situation. Therefore, it is best to take the matter into your own hands and clean your dog’s eyes regularly.

The exact booger removal and eye cleaning method do depend on the type of boogers and their location.

Here are some general guidelines on how to deal with your dog’s eye boogers safely and efficiently.

Soft boogers

When dealing with soft boogers hanging all over your dog’s eyelids, you should follow these steps:

  • Moisten a clean cotton ball, small sponge, or a washcloth with regular water (preferably room-temperature water) but make sure not to over-soak as it may make your dog feel uncomfortable. Alternatively, you can use dog-friendly wipes explicitly formulated for eye cleaning.
  • Gently yet firmly wipe the area around your dog’s eyes to loosen up and remove the accumulated gunk.
  • You can repeat this step until the area is spotless and gunk-free (every time you go for a new wipe, use a clean cloth or ball).

Crusty boogers

Crusty boogers are usually formed into balls and hang on thin fur threads around the eye. This type of booger can easily be removed with a special dog eye comb.

However, if instead of hanging, they are smeared and “glued” around the eyes, the dog eye comb will not be enough.

When dealing with crusty or stubborn boogers, you need to:

  • Gently but firmly press a soft washcloth or warm flannel on your dog’s eyes. Do not apply too much pressure, as you can accidentally harm your dog or make the process uncomfortable. 
  • Apply saline or doggy eye drops (vet-prescribed) to soften the boogers.
  • Remove the boogers with a clean wipe, cotton ball, cloth, or if not too soggy, with the dog eye comb.

Boogers inside the eye

Sometimes, instead of accumulating around the eyes, the boogers may get stuck within the eyes, usually their inner corners. This type of booger is very uncomfortable or even painful as it constantly irritates the eye’s surface.

In this case, you will need to apply copious amounts of doggy eye drops and wait for the solution to start working and softening the boogers. If you do not have eye drops, you can use sterile saline solution or tap water.

To apply the eye drops or saline into the eyes:

  • Gently open your dog’s eye with one hand
  • Flush a few drops or a stream into the eye
  • Let your dog blink few times or shake its head
  • Do the same procedure with the other eye

What not to do?

Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. When it comes to removing eye boogers:

  • Do not use too much force, as you can injure your dog’s eyes
  • Never use napkins or paper towels because these materials disintegrate easily
  • Avoid non-dog-friendly solutions and products that are not prescribed or approved by your vet
  • Never use chamomile tea for cleaning your dog’s eyes because this fluid is a suitable medium for bacteria development and can quickly lead to bacterial eye infections.

How can I treat my dog’s eye discharge at home?

The only thing you can do about your dog’s booger at home and on your own is to have them regularly removed. However, by removing the boogers, you are dealing with the symptom while the cause persists.

Therefore, it is vital to seek veterinary help if your dog starts experiencing heavy eye boogers. The vet will determine the underlying reason and craft a treatment strategy. In the meanwhile, you can keep removing the boogers and soothing the symptoms.


The dog’s eyes are delicate structures requiring proper care. Sadly, eye infections are a common issue among pet dogs. What is more, it is not uncommon for these eye infections to be neglected until it is too late for successful management.

If your dog is prone to eye infections, talk to your vet and always have prescription eye ointments or drops so you can act immediately. Alternatively, you can rely on some at-home management strategy, but only if it has proven safe and efficient in the past and your vet has approved of it.

On the other hand, if you do not have particular experience in the matter of eye infections in dogs, it is advisable to take your dog to the vet’s clinic as soon as you notice something unusual with its eyes.

Eye problems are not life-threatening health issues, but they can quickly progress and trigger irreversible damage to some of the eye structures if left untreated. Depending on the circumstances, the eye damage may evolve into partial or complete blindness.


Do eye boogers bother dogs?

The regular eye boogers that form while sleeping is not something you should worry about and do not bother dogs. However, if the boogers start developing due to eye infections and are too large or rough, they can be irritating and uncomfortable. Plus, if your dog has too many boogers, chances are it has an eye infection, and eye infections can be painful and itchy.

Why do dog’s eye boogers smell?

The eye boogers in dogs, just like in humans, form when the eye discharge hardens. The many bacteria living on the dog’s skin can eventually start multiplying within the hardened eye discharge, eventually leading to a foul smell.

Can I put coconut oil on my dog’s eye?

Coconut oil has many beneficial effects on dogs. One of these benefits is in the treatment of eye infections. Administering few coconut oil drops directly on the eyes can help clear the infection. However, this DIY treatment should not be considered as a substitute for visiting the vet.

Can conjunctivitis go away on its own in dogs?

Non-infectious conjunctivitis starts as a benign issue, but it is not without consequences and cannot go away on its own without adequate treatment. If left untreated, it can develop and trigger more severe problems and even culminate in irreversible eye damage and blindness.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!