Many pets get icky eyes (dampness or a gooey substance that can collect around the eyes) from time to time. This can be concerning to a pet owner. The technical term for this is “ocular discharge” and it can be a symptom of many things – some serious, and some not. Here are the most likely causes:
Just like humans, pets can get allergies that cause itchy and watery eyes. This is often seasonal. You might notice a clear liquid around your pet’s eyes and they may be prone to rubbing them more often than usual. These allergies usually don’t cause pain, but the itchiness can make your pet a little uncomfortable and irritable. Luckily, these types of allergic reactions are not an emergency and are completely manageable. Just ask your vet what sort of treatment they recommend and you can have your pet feeling better in no time.
In this case, ocular discharge occurs when your pet’s tear duct gets clogged, causing liquid to overflow. This may make it look as if your pet is crying. The clogged tear duct itself is not an emergency but it could be caused by another issue so it’s worth mentioning to your vet. They can examine your pet and determine if any further treatment needs to be done.
If ocular discharge is occurring in both of your pet’s eyes, this may be a sign of infection. There are many things that can cause an eye infection, such as viruses and bacteria. These infections cause inflammation around the eyes which increases the discharge, often producing a thick yellow or green substance that can even get so bad it seals your pet’s eyelids closed. Pets in this state should definitely be seen. Take them to the vet as soon as possible so they can find the source of the infection and treat it quickly.
If the discharge is occurring in only one eye and your pet seems to be in pain, it may be caused by an eye injury. Sometimes these injuries are obvious on the eye, eyelid, or surrounding area, but sometimes they’re harder to see. Pay attention to your pet’s behavior. Do they seem in to be hurting? Are they squinting in the light? Rubbing their eyes? Do they flinch or pull away when you try to take a look at it? All of these actions could indicate injury. This might be an ulcer or sore, or even something as simple as a foreign body stuck in the eye. Whatever it is, it’s a sign that your vet should see them right away. And untreated eye injury could lead to serious problems down the road.
Believe it or not, some pet breeds are just prone to icky eyes. This is especially true of pets with “squished” faces – think English bulldogs – which gives the area around the eyes a shape that just lends itself to watery eyes. If you notice your pet’s eyes get wet or they produce discharge regularly, but they are otherwise not in any pain or discomfort, don’t worry. That might just be the way they are. They’ll probably appreciate it if you take a tissue and help them clean their eyes occasionally, but unless it appears to be uncomfortable or a different color, it’s nothing to see the vet about.
In most cases, ocular discharge is not a big deal, but if you ever have any questions, just ask your vet. They’ll be able to let you know if that extra liquid is the sign of a problem or if it’s just because your Persian cat happens to be a little, well… “smooshy” looking.