Is my dog's eye discharge a cause for concern?
January 27, 2009 12:48 PM   Subscribe

My dog's clear eye discharge is now reddish-brown--are we looking at a vet trip?

I have a small papillon mix. He tends to suffer from allergies, which tend to manifest themselves partly in clear eye boogers / eye discharge. However, recently (within the last week or so), his discharge has turned a reddish-brown color. It occurs at the same time (after he's been sleeping) but I was a little worried about the change in color. Google seems to say that this reddish-brown color is normal, but I'm a little worried anyway.

We have a vet appointment scheduled for this weekend...but I often go to the vet for every little thing and am usually told that nothing's wrong. When I called the receptionist and described the problem, she just said, "well if it's different, he could have caught something from another dog--you should bring him in." In my experience, that's the typical vet response. So, thought I might seek out the wisdom of the Hivemind. Does this sound like something to be worried about / visit the vet over?

posted by mingodingo to Pets & Animals (4 answers total)
It's a delicate balance - to take to vet or not to take to vet. Most vets (in my opinion to eliminate liability and make $) will usually ask you to bring the pet in for the concerns you have.

However, reddish/brown dishcharge FROM the eye sound like something I would want to have cleared by the vet in my pet. I wouldn't be too concerned if it were brownish "eye boogers" that collected near the tear duct in the corner of the eye - but if the liquid itself is brown, I would at least want the vet to rule out some type of infection or eye problem.

I would say you are making a good decision taking him/her to the vet. It may be / probably is nothing - but there is certainly nothing like peace of mind for you and your companion.
posted by Brettus at 1:21 PM on January 27, 2009

When my kitties develop any opaque eye discharge I use q-tips to swab triple antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin) along the whole bottom inside edge of the eyelid. It can be toxic (for cats, anyway, if they ingest a substantial amount by licking paws that have touched it in their eye) but applying a light coating has cleared up numerous eye infections for the cats I've had that are prone to those. A good way to guarantee there's no transfer to the container is to dab a bit from the container onto a clean bit of foil, and dip the q-tip in that, then toss it after each application. I do it quickly and our kitties don't seem to mind at all. Just be certain to use a different, clean swab for each eye...I reapply several times daily and usually see improvement withing 24 to 36 hours, but keep applying for several days, until there's been no discharge for a couple of days. If you've done this for 3 days and things haven't improved, I'd take him to the vet.
posted by mumstheword at 1:25 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tear staining is pretty common in some breeds. My dog (a lhasa apso) has this. Most of the time it's not harmful, just something some people don't like cosmetically. They make stuff you can put in their food that supposedly keeps them from having the tear stains. If your dog didn't used to have tear stains, though, a trip to the vet isn't out of line at all.
posted by fructose at 3:08 PM on January 27, 2009

It's red yeast. The yeast lives in your dog's coat and multiplies in the sugars in the discharge-- it's not coming from his eye colored like that. You don't say what kind of dog it is, but the red stains are ubiquitous in little, light-colored dogs like bichons, toy poodles and pomeranians. But I've known a yellow lab, a beagle (my parents'), and a great dane/greyhound mix that had yeast stains as well.


A) are worried about liability and never say "I'm sure it's nothing/normal" over the phone.

B) like money just like any other business, so they always want you to make an office visit.

So it depends on how much peace of mind is worth to you. It's probably nothing, but there's a slim chance that it's some sort on infection. I've taken pets in when I knew it was probably nothing (and it always was, but I felt 85 bucks worth of better anyway). And I've said "this is nothing" and done nothing, and I've never regretted those times either. So I guess the question is "how hard is it for you to shell out for a vet trip that's probably not worth it?" If the money's not much to you, go. But if you're asking this question, I think you have reservations. Going on that, I'd wait for actual symptoms to manifest-- because red eye boogers are pretty normal.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:24 PM on January 27, 2009

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