German Shepherd Eye Boogers: All You Need To Know


German Shepherd looking up

The term ‘eye boogers’ is an extremely effective description of these gloopy balls of slimy gunk that gather in the corner of the eye.

They are a common occurrence in the animal kingdom, which includes humans.

But what should you, a devoted German Shepherd owner, know about eye boogers?

Eye boogers can be goopy or crusty, watery, red/brown stains, grey/white mucous, or yellow or green pus. Assess eye boogers on rate, amount, color, consistency, odor, other signs, and what is normal for your German Shepherd. Common causes are irritation or injury, allergies, infection, tear issues, and eye diseases.

Eye boogers are similar to nose boogers; they are normal fluid secretions of the body, but they can also symptomize a medical issue.

Here we will discuss the different kinds of eye boogers, how to assess them, and possible causes.

What Are Eye Boogers?

Eye boogers are ocular discharge. There are five types of discharge that your German Shepherd can get.

Goopy or small crusty boogers

Tears are most associated with an expression of sorrow, but they serve a practical physiological purpose.

Tears bring nourishment and oxygen to the cornea and flush out foreign debris in contact with the eyeball.

The eye has its own drainage system, but sometimes dried tears mix with dust, oils, dead skin cells, and mucous to produce clear or red/brown goopy boogers or crusts.

Watery discharge

A clear, water-like discharge is excess tear production.

Red/brown tear stains

You are unlikely to clearly see this on your German Shepherd because of the hair’s color around its eyes.

If you notice a slight tint, it is caused by prolonged exposure of excess tearing to oxygen.

Tears contain porphyrin (pigment), which turns red/brown when oxidized.

Grey/white mucous

If the eyes are dry, the body will produce extra mucous to lubricate the eyeball. This mucus is sticky and grey to white.

Yellow or green pus

Pus forms as white blood cells collect and exercise their immune-response actions. This can happen in your eye as well as elsewhere in your body.

How To Assess German Shepherd Eye Boogers

If your German Shepherd has eye boogers, it does not mean that you need to take him to a veterinarian straight away.

There are criteria you need to assess in order to determine if the eye boogers should be concerning. These should also be considered together.

Please also note that these criteria are not limited to German Shepherd eye boogers but can be applied to other dogs.

You can use the RACCOON mnemonic to help you remember the eye booger checklist.

Raccoons aren’t related to German Shepherds, but their eyes are high-lighted by their masks so that you can use that as your mental connection.

Rate

How often is your dog getting eye boogers? If you have to clean one or two boogers now and then (particularly in the morning), there is probably no underlying issue.

If your German Shepherd always has eye boogers, there may be something amiss.

Amount

How big are the eye boogers? If your German Shepherd has a small little ball of gunk right in the very corner of his eye, there is less cause for immediate concern than if the hair beneath his eyes is a mess of slime and hair.

Color

In the first section, we discussed the color of eye discharge. Yellow or green boogers indicate infection, but the other colors are not necessarily healthy.

Consider all the other criteria listed here and use the color to help diagnose the potential issue. We present common causes of eye boogers in the next section.

Consistency

As with color, we have gone over the different consistencies. Take into account the other criteria and use eye booger texture in diagnosis.

Odor

When it comes to bodily discharge, odor is an underused indicator. Maybe it’s because people don’t like sniffing what comes out of their German Shepherd’s orifices (which is understandable). But if you notice a smell, it can indicate infection.

Other signs

If there are any other signs or symptoms, you need to pay attention. Look at the eye itself. Any redness, swelling, bulging, clouding, etc.? Also, look at how your German Shepherd is behaving. Are they blinking a lot or rubbing their face?

Normal

What is normal for your dog? Every dog is different. Some breeds are prone to eye discharge; German Shepherds are not. However, German Shepherds often struggle with allergies which can cause ocular discharge.

Is your German Shepherd quite an allergic dog, or do they not have this issue? Have they always had a few eye boogers, or is it a sudden development?

Sudden, frequent eye boogers can indicate a problem. You also have to look at your German Shepherd’s behavior. Is it normal, or has something changed?

Why Does My German Shepherd Get Eye Boogers?

German Shepherd eye close-up

Mechanical Irritation Or Injury Causes Eye Boogers

If your German Shepherd gets dust, hair, or other debris in their eye, or if there is mechanical damage to the cornea, the body responds by producing tears. These tears wash out the debris and soothe the corneal injury.

There are two kinds of eye boogers associated with this cause: watery discharge during the initial flushing or soothing, and clear or dirty goop or crusts.

Have you ever noticed an eyelash stick in your eye boogers? If the tears don’t flush out the irritant, the eye will produce mucous to wrap around the foreign matter and carry it to the corner of the eye.

The same happens in German Shepherds, producing the goop or crusts.

Mechanical irritation is common but is usually isolated. If you are renovating your house or there have been fires in your area, and there is more particulate matter in the air, the occurrence of these eye boogers may increase, but should not concern you if there are no signs of deeper trouble.

Allergies Cause Eye Boogers

As mentioned earlier, German Shepherds are prone to allergies. Allergens like pollen cause irritation, but this is manifested internally as it triggers an immune response.

Related: German Shepherd Allergies: All You Need To Know

Allergen-related eye boogers will be watery discharge, clear or dirty goop, or grey/white mucous.

The quantity of eye boogers depends on the severity of the reaction.

Allergies will not present with eye boogers only. Your German Shepherd will probably have red and itchy eyes, so watch for face rubbing and scratching.

The allergens are also likely to affect the upper respiratory tract, so your German Shepherd may start sneezing.

In cases of a severe allergic reaction, yellow or green pus can be generated by the eye. In this case, and if the allergic response is prolonged, consult a veterinarian, who can prescribe an antihistamine.

Infection Causes Eye Boogers

Conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection. It is an inflammation of the conjunctival lining. Causes of conjunctivitis range from birth defects to distemper to foreign bodies.

If your German Shepherd has conjunctivitis, take them to the veterinarian to diagnose the cause and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Conjunctivitis symptoms include eye boogers (crusty, watery, mucous, or pus), eye redness, inflammation, and altered behavior (excessive blinking, squinting, or reluctance to open the eyes).

Tear-Related Problems Cause Eye Boogers

Tear-related problems can involve excess tears (epiphora) or insufficient tears (dry eye).

Chronic excess tearing will stain the hair below the eyes and cause a smell, especially if the skin under the eyes becomes infected as a result. As with conjunctivitis, causes of epiphora range widely.

Malformation or malfunctioning of the tear ducts causes epiphora. Typically, you will notice this from birth unless some trauma has damaged the tear duct, but such an injury is not likely to go unnoticed by you.

Allergies, pain, corneal ulcers, etc., are other causes.

Treatment or epiphora will depend on the diagnosis from your veterinarian.

Dry eye is caused by distemper, injury, or auto-immune diseases. The eye boogers associated with dry are thick and sticky mucous. The eye is unable to produce enough tears and compensates by producing extra mucous.

Dry eye is very uncomfortable for your Germans Shepherd, as you can imagine. They will have red, scratchy, and painful eyes and are at risk for developing infection and corneal ulcers.

Your German Shepherd will probably be quite miserable if they have dry eye. Take them to the veterinarian for treatment.  

Eye Diseases Can Cause Eye Boogers

The main eye disease you need to think about is pannus. Of course, it is not the only ocular disease that can affect your dog, but German Shepherds are genetically predisposed to suffer from this degenerative condition.

Pannus affects both eyes, but not to the same degree.

If your German Shepherd has pannus, a pink mass will develop on the cornea’s outer side, and the third eyelid may become inflamed. The mass will spread over the cornea, becoming darker, and sight will eventually be impaired. Mucous eye boogers can accompany the development of the mass.

Pannus is not curable, but it can be treated to halt the progression. If your German Shepherd is diagnosed with pannus, they will have to be put onto chronic corticosteroids (which comes with its own issues).

You will also probably have to get your dog a pair of sunglasses as UV light facilitates the progression of this disease.

TIP: The Correct Way To Clean Eye Boogers

You shouldn’t use your fingers to clean your German Shepherd’s eye boogers.

Fingers are not always clean, and your nails can hurt your dog’s eyeball, especially if they don’t cooperate with your ministrations.

A safe way to clean your German Shepherd’s eye boogers is by using a product specifically designed for the task, such as Arava Pet Eye Wipes.

These are gentle on your German Shepherd’s eyes, and we love that they are Aromatherapy Medicated.

Alternatively, you can use a cotton pad (not cottonwool as it is too fibrous) or a clean, soft cloth soaked in warm water.

Gently wipe away from the eye. Use a new cotton pad or fabric for each eye as one can be infected and the other not, so the infection could spread if you use the same cloth or pad.

Final Thoughts

The information in this article has equipped you to understand what is expected and what to look for that would indicate a potential problem when it comes to eye boogers from your German Shepherd.

Eye boogers are ocular discharge and can be caused by anything from normal tear functioning in the eye to degenerative diseases that can lead to blindness.

You need to consider how often they are produced, how much is made, color, consistency, odor, the presence of other eye changes, and what is normal for your German Shepherd.

If you cannot decide if your German Shepherd’s eye boogers fall into the category of normal or problematic, consult your veterinarian.

You can then also get a baseline. If your veterinarian informs you the discharge is normal, you can identify changes from this norm, indicating a potential issue.

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and a variety of other large and medium breed dogs for over 20 years now - Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pit Bull Terriers - just to name a few. Myself, along with my team of highly experienced canine professionals, strive to bring you the best and most useful information to help you raise your dog the right way. Read my story here.

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