Many dogs suffer from seasonal allergies that produce eye gook, and some breeds perpetually have problems with eye discharge. A clear or grayish discharge is normal, as is eye gook that turns brown or blackish when it dries. However, if you don't take care of excess eye gook, the hair around your dog's eyes might stick together over the eye and create the perfect environment for an infection. Cleaning your dog's eyes requires patience and finesse, but it is relatively easy to do.
How to Clean Eye Gook from Your Dog's Eyes
Tire out your dog. Take him for a long walk or play session before doing this. A dog is always easier to work with when his energy level is low.
Figure out the right amount of pressure to use. Using your own hand, wipe your own closed eye, from the inside corner by your nose to the outside corner. Do this several times until you get a feel for what amount of pressure and speed feels most comfortable. It may even feel like a massage if you do it properly. You will be using the same motion to clean your dog's eyes.
Take one or two clean, soft towels and soak them in lukewarm water. The towels should be dripping wet after soaking. You might want to put them on a small dish to catch the water or keep a small bowl of warm water beside you. Any type of soft cloth will do, but shop towels work well since they are soft and don't fall apart when wet.
Have your dog lie on one side, preferably with one side of his head against the ground and the other side facing up.
Take the sopping wet towel and very gently wipe the dog's eye — make sure his eye is closed! — in one direction, going from the inside corner near the snout to the outside corner. Repeat this motion several times, allowing the water to saturate the gook. As the eye gook gets wet, it will break, loosen from the hair and skin around the eye, and be pulled away by the motion of your hand. If the towel gets dry or too dirty, get a new well-soaked towel and continue. Remember to be very gentle. Never pull, tug, force or press too hard.
Remove stubborn bits of eye gook with your fingers — gently slide them off or break them apart, but don't pull. Use a very soft touch to break up the gook while it's still in place, then resume using the towel to saturate it with water as you wipe in the same direction, from inside corner to outside corner. Again, rely on patience and persistence. Do not use strength or force.
After clearing one eye, have your dog turn over and repeat steps 5 and 6.
If lukewarm water isn't doing the job, or if your dog's eyes seem bloodshot or otherwise irritated, try a saline eye wash. Your vet or pet supply store may carry one specifically made for dogs, but a simple, plain saline wash for human eyes is also acceptable. Rinse your dog's eyes with copious amounts of the solution, then use a clean cloth to wipe away the discharge dislodged by the solution. You can follow up with steps 5 and 6 to ensure all of the gook is wiped away.