Whether your dog has big, brown eyes or tiny blue ones, it is important to keep them clean. This is a task that should be done carefully though, since his eyes are just as sensitive as yours, and he has to be able to see to look out for you.
Is it Dirt or an Infection?
If you’re particularly concerned about cleaning your dog’s eyes, there is probably a good amount of discharge in or around them. The first thing you should do is ensure that this “gunk” inside them is not caused by a medical problem. While it’s true that many dogs simply have excessive eye discharge, it can also be a sign of something more serious.
A few telltale signs that your dog has an eye infection or other serious disorders are if the eyes display:
If any of these symptoms are present, or you notice any bleeding in the eye, see your veterinarian as soon as possible – and do not attempt to clean your dog’s eyes yourself until your vet gives you a proper treatment plan.
Cleaning Tear Stains on Light Fur
If your dog’s fur is white or very light blonde, he may be susceptible to tear stains, which occur when a build-up of water from the eyes discolors the fur beneath them to a brown or red tint. This is common in many toy breeds, including poodles, cocker spaniels and shih tzus.
These breeds are susceptible to excessive eye-watering due to the fact that their coarse hair often irritates their eyes. It’s important to remove these spots as soon as possible because they can be a breeding ground for bacteria if they remain damp for too long.
In order to remove tear stains, you can use a mixture of equal parts corn starch and peroxide. Mix them together into a fine powder and apply the solution to your dog’s fur. (Make sure that this solution does not make contact with your dog’s eyes! You do not want to irritate them further.) If you’re not comfortable using peroxide on your dog’s face, you can try a mixture of boric acid powder and cornstarch instead, but be careful to avoid the eyes with this mixture as well. Let the mixture dry for at least a couple hours and then rinse it thoroughly with lukewarm water.
Once you’ve removed your dog’s tear stains, you should focus on prevention. There are many products available that you can add to your pet’s food to prevent the formation of tear stains in the future. You can consult your vet for information about products specific to your dog’s needs.
If your dog doesn’t have tear stains, just general muck in his eyes, you should be able to clean them by gently wiping the edge of the eye with a clean cloth or tissue. Remember to wipe around the eye, never directly on the eye’s surface. You can also buy eye wipes made specifically for dogs, but these are usually not necessary.
Washing the Eyes
If there is dirt or debris directly inside your dog’s eye and not just in the corners, you will need to flush it out with an eyewash. Don’t go up to the bathroom and grab the Visine; be sure to consider your dog’s safety and comfort by purchasing an eyewash just for him. Canine-friendly solutions, such as EyeClens are available at most any pet supply store. They may also be found at your vet’s office.
To use the eye wash, put the bottle near, but not in, your dog’s eye and squeeze the bottle gently. Be sure that the bottle is angled downward, so that gravity will assist you in flushing out the debris. Give your dog a treat afterwards, as this can be quite stressful for him.
Calming Your Dog
If your dog does not like having their eyes cleaned, there a variety of products that can help, such as treats with calming ingredients, calming scent products that range from sprays and diffusers to scented collars, as well as a calming jacket. If your dog is very aggressive about having their eyes cleaned, don’t hesitate to use a muzzle. Better safe than sorry. Another option for aggressive dogs is to have a groomer clean their eyes. They have a special table that will help hold the dog in place so they don’t get hurt by wiggling too much with a scissors that close to their eye. You can try using a similar concept at home by putting the leash on their collar and tying the leash to a cabinet door next to the sink or somewhere similar so that they don’t have much room to move around. Obviously use caution when doing so and don’t make it taunt or too short that they are uncomfortable; just a short leash reign should be enough to accomplish your goal. Eye cleanings are a great reason to regularly work on training exercises with your dog (sit/stay).
Keeping Your Dog’s Eyes Clean
If your pet has tear stains, he will require ongoing treatment. However, if you just need to keep your dog’s eyes free from gunk, there are several ways to reduce the risk of eye irritation:
- Keep your pet away when you are mowing the lawn, dusting or doing other activities that cause an excessive amount of debris or particles in the air.
- Don’t let your dog hang his head out the car window. Sure it looks like fun, but the wind can carry objects that could cause serious infection or damage.
- Secure all household chemicals where your dog will not be exposed to them, such as on a high shelf or in a cabinet, and keep your dog outside when you are using toxic cleaners, such as bleach and ammonia.
- Trim your pet’s fur if it is getting into his eyes regularly. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, seek the assistance of a professional groomer.
Eye-cleaning is a fairly simple process and there is no set schedule of how often it should be preformed. Just keep on eye on your pet and his behavior and sit him down for an eye-cleaning on an as-needed basis.