Just like humans, dogs tend to accumulate dirt in their eyes as air pollution and debris are naturally blown into them. It can then accumulate in the form of hard or soft dirt, sometimes even in the form of boogers, and clog on or around your pooch's tear ducts. That's where their loving parents come in!
If this buildup isn't managed regularly, it can lead to other problems and potentially infections that can be very uncomfortable for your dog.
As responsible parents, we should groom our pets as we would our children, helping them follow regular hygiene routines to keep them healthy and happy. Fortunately, when it comes to eye cleaning, the process is relatively simple and can be done at home!
What should I use to clean my dog's eyes?
All you need is a clean pair of hands (or clean gloves), a few cotton balls, a paper towel and a bowl of clean, warm water. If your dog is a little reluctant to have his eyes cleaned, you may need an extra pair of hands to help him calm down and stay calm. You can also reassure him by putting on a little classical music and making him comfortable!
How do I clean a dog's eyes?
Before you start cleaning your dog's eyes, make sure he is comfortable. Use a gentle, complimentary tone and encourage him by petting and complimenting him throughout the process.
- Make sure your hands are washed and clean. If you have an assistant, make sure he or she has done the same - the goal is not to remove the gunk and add to it behind!
- Lightly moisten a cotton ball
- Place the moistened cotton ball inside the eye and gently wipe towards the outside of the eye. You may need to repeat this process several times to remove larger clumps. If there is a lot of dirt, renew your cotton regularly.
Keep in mind that this is not natural for your dog, and just like us, he will instinctively close his eyes when you approach his eye with the cotton ball.
- Repeat on the other side with a new, slightly damp cotton ball.
- Then, when you're done, gently pat his eyes dry with a piece of paper or paper towel.
- Reward them for cleaning their eyes with praise and a favorite treat! This will help them learn to be good next time!
If your dog doesn't like having his eyes cleaned, don't force him to do it with you or scold him for his reluctance. Trained veterinary nurses can help, so make an appointment if your furry friend is anxious or scared and his eyes really need cleaning.
Never use makeup remover wipes that are not intended for dogs' eyes.
How often should I clean my dog's eyes?
If you're wondering "how often should I clean my dog's eyes", well unfortunately we don't have a universal answer, it depends on your dog.
You should clean your dog's eyes regularly in order to avoid any infection. Once a month is usually enough, but if you want a specific cleaning schedule, especially if you have a dog with naturally long hair around the eyes and ears, such as Shih-Tzus, Poodles or Maltese, consult your veterinarian for advice.
If your dog's eyes are excessively watery, red, swollen or inflamed, or if their vision seems impaired, have them examined by your veterinarian, as this may indicate an underlying problem that requires medical intervention.
What about tear stains in dogs?
Tear stains are when there is a brown, pink or reddish discoloration in the fur from the corner of a dog's eyes, nose or mouth. Tear stains are caused by a molecule called "porphyrin", a waste product that is normally eliminated from the body through tears and saliva.
It is most common in dog breeds with lighter coats, those with longer hair around the nose and eyes and those with short noses. Breeds such as Chihuahuas and Pekingese with rounded eyes are also particularly prone to this problem. Dog tear stains are harmless, but some owners consider them unsightly, if this is the case for you, keep reading this blog ;)
How do I reduce my dog's tear stains?
A combination of grooming and cleaning can help reduce your dog's tear stains. If your dog has long hair around the eyes and nose, make sure it is regularly trimmed short. Your vet or a groomer can even teach you how to keep an eye on these areas if you ask!
Regular cleaning, as mentioned above, with cotton balls and warm water can also help reduce tear stains.
Some pet brands have also developed digestible chews suitable for dogs with tear stains. Look for those from a reputable brand that contain vitamin C and ingredients with microbial properties (such as marshmallow root). It's important to ask your veterinarian for advice on how to care for your dog's eyes and what products to use in and around them, especially if your dog needs specific help with eye care. Make sure your dog is seen by your veterinarian at least once a year so he can give him a complete eye exam, and don't hesitate to contact him if you have any concerns about your dog's eyes or other problems he may have.