Labrador Retriever Eye Discharge

by Shannon Steffen on March 28, 2006

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I thought this was over! When Dakota was a puppy, she started to develop a colored discharge in the corner of her right eye shortly after we brought her home. We thought it may have been the dog food we put her on at the time and started to switch her to a better dog food to help clear up her eye as well as take care of her dry, flaky skin. Now, at a little over a year old, she has developed the same yellowish colored discharge and her sister, Cheyenne, has decided that Dakota shouldn’t be the only one to have it. That initiated my search on the Internet to get more information about eye discharge in Labrador Retrievers and I was able to find the following informative article:

Like their human owners, dogs and cats sometimes wake up with “sleepers” in their eyes — a crusty discharge that results from the eye’s natural self-cleaning efforts. All pets will occasionally have some discharge, although bulgy-eyed breeds such as pugs, Pekingese, and Persian cats are much more prone to it than others.

“If you can wipe away the sleepers in the morning with a damp tissue and they don’t accumulate to any extent during the day, then you generally don’t have to worry about it,” says Nancy Willerton, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Denver. “But when the discharge continues throughout the day, your pet may have an infection.”

Eye infections are fairly common, Dr. Willerton adds. They can crop up on their own or when something lodges in the eye. They can also occur when the surface of the eye, called the cornea, gets scratched. A telltale sign of infection is the appearance of the discharge: It will often be thick, yellow, gray, or green. It may form a crust on the eyelids as well.

Pets with viral infections such as feline respiratory disease in cats and canine adenovirus in dogs will often develop runny eyes. “It may start out as a watery discharge but then become thicker as the infection progresses,” says Terri McGinnis, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in the San Francisco area and author of The Well Cat Book and The Well Dog Book.

“Dogs and cats are prone to seasonal allergies, and the only sign may be a sticky eye discharge,” adds Craig N. Carter, D.V.M., Ph.D., head of epidemiology at Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M University in College Station. Unlike bacterial or viral infections, allergies usually result in a clear discharge, he adds. Your pet may be scratching himself and have bloodshot eyes as well.

A problem in older pets is that the eyes naturally become drier. This makes it easy for the outer portion of the eye to get irritated and inflamed, which can result in a sticky, yellow discharge on the surface of the eyeball.

Finally, some pets have a slight genetic defect called entropion, in which the eyelid turns inward and causes the lashes to brush against the surface of the eye. In cats and some breeds of dogs, like golden and Labrador retrievers, entropion often affects the lower eyelid. In dogs with big heads and loose facial skin, such as Saint Bernards, shar-peis, and Chow Chows, both lids can be affected. Over time entropion can cause irritation and infection, resulting in a discharge.

See Your Vet If…

Your pet has an eye infection

You have a bulgy-eyed breed like a Persian cat or Pekingese dog, or a giant breed of dog like a mastiff

Your pet is scratching a lot and has bloodshot eyes

Your pet won’t quit scratching or pawing his eyes

His eyes have turned blue, gray, or cloudy, or he is having trouble getting around

His eyes are frequently bloodshot or dry

There has been a watery or discolored discharge from the eyes for 48 hours or more

Your pet’s eyes are bulging

The eyelids are swollen or unable to close

There is a growth on the eye or eyelid

One or both pupils are dilated, or they don’t respond to light

Your pet seems very sensitive to light

The eyes are droopy or sunken

The third eyelids are covering the lower parts of the eyes

His eyes are continually moving back and forth

Blood or tiny blood vessels are visible in the center (not the whites) of his eyes

His eyelid appears to be turned inward or outward

So it seems that my Lab Brats may have Conjunctivitis after all! I will give you three guesses where they would have caught that – doggie daycare! Sometimes I have to wonder if the doggie daycare is worth it considering the amount of vet bills we get because they go there. For now though, I will keep my girls calm, keep their eyes clean, and see how they do in a few days. Usually these things clear themselves up – let’s just hope it is one of those times.

Dakota & Cheyenne Chocolate Labs

(Reference: http://home.ivillage.com/pets/symsolve/0,,j8qm,00.html)

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  • Larisaduhart

    Thanks for the information about eye discharge. Your site was the most helpful. :)

  • denver

    not only does our lab have the yellowish/green discharge but the outside of her eyes have rings aroud them.at first i thouhgt it was from her scratching but it doesn’t seem so.its like dry flaky skin.there real bloodshot too.

  • Monica

    My labrador retriever just got over a sprain and 4 days later his right eye turns blue, whats wrong, and what should i do?

    • http://www.8pawsup.com Shannon Steffen

      Please seek medical care. It could be unrelated but it may be serious.

  • http://Bastard.com Bastard

    Yea my bitch is a good bitch, but she’s got some watery discharge coming from her left eye only. She’s still young, around 14 weeks or so…so the vet thinks that the tear ducts just havent fully developed. He says my bitch should be fine.

  • http://www.poorclaresnj.com Sister Florence

    Our dog, Maggie, a seven year old yellow lab has an eye infection that is internal and is not going away after about a month. She is on eye drops and anitbotics and is sleeping and not peppy s she use to be. any hope that she is going to get better?

    thanks

    • http://www.8pawsup.com Shannon

      Sister – what type of food are you feeding your Maggie? Dogs, like humans, can develop allergies later on in life and Labrador Retrievers are no strangers to both environmental and food allergies. If it is a food allergy, it can turn her immune system against her.

  • Dustin

    I went camping with my 7m/o black lab and she was running in a meadow alot. after the first night there she woke up with alot of yellow discharge from both her eyes. I’m not sure if it was from the tall grass, all about at her eye level or from the fire but 4 days later i’m having to wipe the discharge 2 or 3 times a day. looks like it’s a trip to the vet

    • http://8pawsup.com Shannon

      Yes, if the eye discharge is a color, then you want the veterinarian to check it out. It should only take eye drops but ask your vet about giving allergy medicine when you are camping again.

  • Ronald Rogers

    My ten month old black Lab, Sky has a white discharge in both of his eyes every morning. Has anyone else had this problem? Thanks

  • Michael

    Icky yellow discharge from my BEAUTIFUL chocolate lab Cookie. She’s just over 5 months old. I started taking her to the local “Bark Park” at 4 months, and one day she got something (sand/ dirt/ debris) in her eye. It got all red and irritated and leaky, and once, it may have been a trick of the light, but it looked like that pupil was more dilated than the other eye. I rinsed her eye, and decided if it hadn’t improved by the next day i’d take her to the vet. (In retrospect, I realize that she’d probably scratched her cornea, and should’ve gone to the vet immediately.) Well, it did improve, but ever since, her left eye has “weeped” more than her right. Not unGodly amounts, but enough to make me wipe it 2-3 times a day. What should I do?

    • http://8pawsup.com Shannon

      If the eye discharge is clear or just slightly off-color then there is nothing that can really be done. Dakota’s eye weeps several times a day – mostly during allergy season. However, if it starts to turn an abnormal color or your pup seems irritated but it, then I would definitely see a vet.

  • Shannon

    It could be an infection but it is most likely seasonal allergies.

    My recommendation is to use a soft tissue to clean up the discharge whenever you see it so that the area stays clean. If the color starts to turn more of a greenish or darker color, or there is red in it, then seek your vet’s attention.

    Of course, if you are very uncomfortable with how it is right now, you can easily call your vet’s office and speak to them over the phone about it. Most people don’t know that they can seek counsel for such things over the phone and it is free. :)

    Best of luck!

  • Anonymous

    my chocolate lab, lakhota, has started having a yellowish thick discharge from his right eye only. it is worst in the mornings, but since it is only one eye, im not sure if it is just sleep or allergies. his eye isnt red and it isnt normally as bad during the day. do you think i should take him to the vet to see what it is? i especially want to be careful so that if he does have some kind of infection then he can’t give it to his brother.

  • Shannon

    Clear discharge can be just from allergies or even something in the environment making the pup’s eyes water… just like us humans. However, it never hurts to ask the vet when they are that young.

  • Anonymous

    So anonymous #2. What was the clear discharge?
    My 9 week old puppy has a clear discharge from his right eye only. Going to call the vet.

  • Anonymous

    gracie 3 yr old yellow lab,
    she spent a couple of days at a day care and cme home both time with a clear leakage from her left eye. this is the 3rd time this has happend. “””daycare””???
    thanks for your blog ,it helps a great deal.

  • Anonymous

    thanks for your info. My bitch is 9 months and she seems to have too much yellow discharge. Other than that she is top of the pops.

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