How to Clean Dog Eye Boogers: Soften & Remove Hard Crust Safely

How to clean dog eye boogers

All dogs will get that hard and brown crusty gunk in and around their eyes. It’s where tears have dried with dirt to make eye boogers. But unlike us humans, they have no real way of safely getting rid of them. It’s up to us to remove the hard crust from our dog’s eyes.

It’s a regular problem too. Dogs cry tears more than we do, as it’s their way of flushing any irritants out of their eyes. Then the hard and crusty dog eye boogers will develop into a hard gunk.

It can be hard to safely and easily clean your dog’s eye crust without hurting them. However, I have 2 methods though which work well if you want to get eye boogers off your dog – both detailed below which involve softening them first.

How to remove hard crust from dogs’ eyes?

In our house, it’s always down to me to get the eye boogers off our dog. It’s a dirty job, and nobody else wants to do it. If the boogers have turned into a hard crust, you need to soften them as it’s then easier to clean them off.

How to soften dog eye boogers first

I’ve tried two different methods for softening the gunk around my dog’s eyes. Both methods work well, so it’s up to you to choose whichever your dog is most comfortable with.

  1. Soak a clean flannel in warm water, then gently press the cloth to your dog’s eye where the crusty boogers are. This will soften up the booger gunk, making it easier to remove in the next section.
  2. Alternatively, you could try to soften dog eye boogers by buying special eye wipes that have been specifically manufactured for this purpose. They use eye-friendly ingredients – here they are on Amazon.

How to clean dog eye boogers

Once the crust is softened up, you can start the process to get rid of your dog’s eye boogers. There are a few methods, but importantly, something you should never do – please read this first:

Warning: Don’t ever try to clean your dog’s eye boogers with your bare finger. This can risk transferring bacteria to your dog’s eye or scratching a retina.

Now you know how to not clean a dog’s eye crust, here’s the correct way.

1. A warm flannel to soften the eye boogers

It’s already been said but soften the dog’s eye boogers first with a warm cloth, or buy some of those specially formulated eye wipes I showed you above.

If you use the cloth method, soak it in warm water for about 10 seconds, before taking it out, squeezing the excess water off, then pressing it against the crust for 15 to 30 seconds.

This will soften up the crust, and you might be able to simply wipe them off at this point.

2. Canine eye drops

Stubborn and persistent crusty eye boogers might need a little more help. There’s a fantastic eye drop product on Amazon (click here) which you apply twice a week. It will help to eliminate clogging, heal, and reduce irritation

It also has a lot of other uses apart from flushing out eye boogers, including treating allergic reactions and giving the eye some general moisture and lubrication If needed.

3. Dog tear stain remover

Even after cleaning your dog’s eye boogers, you might see staining. It’s particularly problematic on white dogs – here’s a great one on Amazon.

4. Trim the hair around your dog’s eyes

Long-haired dogs often suffer more with crusty gunk as the hair can get matted in around the eyes. Providing you are confident and calm, and believe your dog will stay still, you could attempt to trim the hair back.

If you are at all worried you might jab your dog accidentally, please use a professional dog groomer’s service. If you are confident doing it – here’s a kit:

5. A dog eye comb

Eye combs are also very good for trying to tease any tanged gunk and eye boogers out – but only if they are stuck on the hair, and not the eye itself.

So that’s the overview of how I clean dog eye boogers. There’s more you should know though, particularly if you want to prevent the needing to get rid of crust in the first place.

What are dog eye boogers?

When your dog has eye boogers and crust, don’t just clean them away and forget about them. It could be that there are some very good reasons why the hard gunk and crust is in there in the first place – it could be the signal for a bigger issue.

We call the hard crust, eye boogers. Vets will call is a discharge from the eye, where fluid is flowing from the eye area. It can come in different colors including brown, yellow or green and either watery, pus-like or crusty.

What’s important at this point is that eye boogers don’t always mean the same thing, so you should always talk to your vet with any concerns.

Should you clean dog’s eye boogers?

If dog eyes aren’t kept wet, they won’t work correctly, could affect eyesight, and be even painful, or cause them to scratch at their eyes. This is why I like to clean my dog’s eye boogers and keep them clear of hard crust when possible.

However, you should only clean them if you feel you can do it, without hurting your dog or harming their eyes.

How to remove hard crust from dogs eyes
Learn how to remove hard crust from a dog’s eyes to then look as good as this (Image via

What causes dogs to get eye boogers?

This is not a complete list by any means, but is a list of the causes of hard crust and gunk from my own personal research into eye boogers in dogs and cleaning them properly.

Excessive eye watering

The official medical term for this is epiphora (read definition) and it refers to a dog’s eyes excessively tearing up, leaving them constantly wet.

This will often be the case with dogs that have flatter faces. It’s been found that breeds like this find it hard to express excess tears properly. As a result, you will see what’s called tear staining where the fur running down from the eyes get darker.

This condition can be treated, and there are surgical options when it becomes extremely problematic.

Dry Eye

The medical term for this condition is Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (read definition), and it is pretty much the opposite of epiphora I mentioned above.

Not only will this condition cause your dog to have eye boogers, but it will also itch a lot. It will also mean there’s not the lubrication there before, making your dog even more uncomfortable if something small gets in their eye – it won’t flush easily.

This is a condition that requires professional help with, so please chat to a vet if you suspect your dog is suffering with it.


Did you know that dogs can get hay fever too? Some dogs are actually allergic to dust or pollen, and if they’re exposed to too much of it, they may develop allergic conjunctivitis, which causes weepy eyes and redness.

This happens when miniscule particles of pollen or dust get under the eyelids, making them irritated, and resulting in a lot of tears and possible infection or discharge.

As with any allergy suspicions, please do get your vet’s advice on it. With eye allergies there might be drops or antihistamines that can help clear up the gunk and crust.


Conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the outer layer of the eye and the inner eyelids. As we have seen, conjunctivitis can sometimes be caused by allergies. However, it can also be viral or bacterial, and is often paired with yellow or green puss-like discharge and eye crust.

I believe conjunctivitis is very contagious, so if one of your dogs has it, it requires quick treatment and antibiotics from the vet.


Owning a dog means you will have to do lots of things you might not necessarily feel comfortable with. Cleaning dog eye boogers is one of those, but it’s essential if you want your dog to be happy and healthy.

As you do it though, please consider what could be causing the hard gunk. Like I said, it might point to a bigger issue than simply a booger.

Thankfully it’s relatively easy to soften dog eye boogers at home. Now you know how to do it, keep it up, and talk to your vet if you see anything unusual.

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Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things we've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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