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Could my Dog’s Eye Discharge be Caused by Dry Eye?

All dogs will have some discharge at the corners of their eyes. It’s perfectly normal to need to clean a bit of light gray matter from their eyes once or twice a day. But owners take note: if the color of the discharge is yellow or green, or if buildup appears frequently, you should consider asking your veterinarian to test your dog for dry eye.

Dry eye, or “keratoconjunctivitis sicca” is a common eye problem in dogs, especially bulldogs, cocker spaniels, Shih Tzus, and Lhasa Apsos. Identifying and treating dry eye is important, not only to alleviate your dog’s discomfort, but also because left untreated dry eye can lead to serious problems, such as ulcers and blindness.

To understand dry eye, you need to understand why the tear film is important. Dr. Amber Labelle, a veterinary ophthalmologist at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, explains that the tear film on your dog’s eye serves several functions: it removes waste, such as dust; helps keep the cornea transparent (the cornea is the clear outer portion of the eye); plays a role in immune function; and brings oxygen and nutrients to the cornea. (Remember, unlike most tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to bring oxygen and nutrients because blood vessels would keep the cornea from being transparent.)

Learn more about dry eyes from the vet school in Illinois.


NB: In my experience, dogs do not always have eye discharge. Although KCS does need to be ruled out in some cases, the discharge is often a sign of a mild internal imbalance. True dry eye is secondary to immune-mediated destruction of tear gland cells and reduced tear production.–Dr. Jeff


Please note: The information provided here is intended to supplement the recommendations of your veterinarian. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment based on information on this site. Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination performed by your veterinarian. -Dr. Jeff

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I'm sending my prayers and best wishes to everyone throughout the world that has been affected by this historic pandemic. My hope is for a better balance of the world and greater empowerment for all as soon as possible. Here are 4 actions that can be used today to improve immune resistance to any virus or bacteria:

1. Go on a "sniff walk” with your pet and breathe fresh air deeply for at least 30 minutes/day.

2. Eat darkly colored fresh vegetables and fruit such as wild blueberries and kale.

3. Do at least 50 HA! breaths just say ha loudly) daily. These forceful expulsions of air help maintain good lung function and can help you detect respiratory problems early. Laughter, coughing and Kapalabhati breathing (from yoga) are three other easy ways to do this.

4. Experience positive emotions, like the sense of awe, when we witness the renewal of nature. Stay safe, Vital and healthy”

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Stay safe, Vital and healthy,

Dr. Jeff