Ask a Vet Archive

When it comes to your pet's health, there's no such thing as a dumb question. Search questions real clients have submitted to our popular Ask a Vet Q&A series, and then submit a question of your own.

  • Both my dog and my cat's eyes get messy fairly often. They get this gunk in the corners. Should I be cleaning this? Is this normal? How should I go about cleaning it?

    Yes, any excess mucous, secretions, tears, or other matter should be routinely cleaned from the eyes of your pets. Most cats and dogs will collect a small amount of eye secretion or debris at the inside eye lid corners, just like we do.

    Some breeds, especially many short-faced cat breeds and smaller dog breeds, can produce a large amount of tears or debris and may also have chronic hair staining at the eyelid corners from the proteins in their tears.

    Be sure NOT to mistake an eye infection or other problem for "normal" secretions. If your pet exhibits any of the following, he or she may have an infection or problem:

    •Eye Redness
    •Swelling
    •Pain
    •Excess Eye Discharge
    •Loss of Vision
    •Change from Normal Eye Ball Appearance
    •Excess Blinking
    •Holding Eyes Closed
    •Pawing at Eyes

    If you have any concerns about your pet's eyes, see your local veterinarian immediately.

    To clean normal tears or debris from the eyelids, use a soft, moistened, clean cloth, cotton ball or tissue to gently wipe any secretions away. Avoid rubbing or touching the eye ball, as this can cause injury to delicate eye structures. If a large amount of debris has built up, you may need to soak the area with your moist cloth to soften the secretions before removal.

    Some pets will need this cleaning repeated daily. Other breeds with long facial hair will greatly benefit from careful trimming or grooming to keep hair out of the eyes. If you choose to trim this hair yourself, use care to avoid injury to the eye or eye lids. Consider using a professional groomer if you do not feel confident in trimming this delicate area.


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