Eye discharge in a puppy can be alarming, but it’s not always cause for concern. Clear discharge is often not serious, but thick yellow or green discharge can indicate a problem. Either way, it’s a good idea to take your pup to the vet to make sure he’s okay.
Distemper is a serious disease that is often fatal to puppies. Dogs are normally vaccinated against this disease at an early age, but those that haven’t completed their puppy shots series or those that come from pet shops or shelters may end up catching distemper. A thick discharge from the eyes and nose is one of the most obvious signs of this disease, and a sick puppy may also have a fever, a cough and no appetite. Aggressive treatment may be able to save him, but a puppy with distemper may improve and then relapse with seizures, trembling and weakness a couple of weeks later.
Entropion is the medical term used to describe eyelids that roll under so that the hairy outside of the lid presses directly against the eyeballs. This causes continual eye irritation, resulting in constant discomfort and tearing. The dog may end up with ulcers on his corneas if the condition isn’t corrected. Young puppies often have their eyelids tacked in place to keep them from rolling under, but older dogs typically require the removal of a piece of skin from the eyelid and a tightening of the lid to correct the problem.
The sudden onset of eye discharge in a seemingly healthy puppy may be the result of something as simple as allergies or a foreign body. If there’s something in his eye causing irritation he may paw at it; if the discharge is caused by allergies he may be sneezing or coughing without appearing ill. If there’s something in his eye you may be able to remove it by rinsing his eye with sterile saline solution. If the problem is allergies, he needs to go to the vet.
Certain breeds of dogs are just naturally more prone to eye discharge than other breeds. If your puppy is a breed that has a flat face and noticeably protruding eyes, the discharge may be a breed trait. Pugs, boxers, Pekingese and bulldogs often have this problem. Other breeds, especially poodles and cocker spaniels, are prone to tear ducts that block easily, resulting in overflowing eyes. Blocked ducts need treatment by the vet, but if his eyes are goopy because of the shape of his face and head, it’s likely that the vet won’t be able to do much for him.