Do Dogs Have Boogers?


The other day, I was visiting my sister, Colleen, and her husband, Max. We had just sat down to what should have been a very pleasing lunch – Colleen had made one of her amazing stir-fries, Max had opened a bottle of his outstanding homemade wine, and we were going to follow it up with the apple cobbler I made that morning.

As it turned out, none of us ate much, because about halfway into the meal, my four-year-old nephew, Owen, went prospecting. For boogers. He stuck his finger in his nose up to the second knuckle, and extracted something that was green and red and gray and approximately the size of Rhode Island. Then he put it in his mouth.

Then I gagged. Colleen gagged. And then Max said, “Oh ferchrissake, Owen!” And gagged. Owen grinned and opened up his mouth to show us the booger that he hadn’t yet swallowed. We all gagged some more.

Once I was done gagging, I sat there silently, thanking God that I only had to deal with dogs, and not booger-eating sprog.

But wait – do dogs have boogers?

I had to think about this for a bit. Most dog owners know about eye discharge, especially if they have a large breed. In fact, my friend Neila often talks about “eye boogers” on her Rottweilers. She maintains that her Dallas often presents with eye boogers that are about the size and consistency of premium quality oysters. For that matter, I guess Janice and Leroy are a bit boogery in that regard. More on eye boogers later, though.

First, let’s talk about nose boogers. Do dogs have boogers, in the nasal sense? Do those pretty, wet, sensitive dog parts that twitch so inquisitively and feel so wonderfully cold and special when they’re shoved up against our hands develop actual boogers?

Sometimes, they do.

Why Do Dogs Have Boogers?

Okay, to consider this question, let’s first of all ask ourselves why people get boogers. It’s because of nasal discharge, pure and simple. When nasal discharge (otherwise known as snot) begins to coagulate or harden, boogers are formed. Humans, of course, have the advantage of being able to blow their noses in order to rid themselves of excessive snot before it coagulates and hardens, or at least, once it does start to solidify, to use their fingers, either naked or clad in Kleenex, to pick out the offending matter.

Y’know, I kind of love being able to use terms like “snot” and “boogers” in this post. But I guess that’s a digression.

Back to the point, dogs can get boogers for the same reasons as people do – because of nasal discharge. Dogs can’t dig into their noses, though, so if boogers do develop, they can build up and cause trouble. Your dog can’t tell you, “Mom, I’ve got boogers,” so you might not even notice that boogers have become an issue until the dog ends up being in discomfort. Then he might end up snorting or pawing at his nose.

Most of the time, though, boogers will clear up on their own. At some point, your dog is likely to sneeze, and thereby discharge the boogers.

On the other hand, if your dog’s nose is dripping a lot, he might have a cold. This isn’t boogers as such – it’s nasal discharge and it won’t usually accumulate. As to the cold, don’t worry about it being contagious – canine colds and human colds are very different, and not transferable cross-species. If the nasal discharge is accompanied by a cough, though, you might suspect a foreign object lodged in the nose, in which case it would be a good idea to take your dog to the vet.

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Identifying the Issue

As I’ve suggested, your dog is not going to be able to tell you that he’s being troubled by boogers or other nasal difficulties. So, you’ll have to look for things that might clue you in as to what’s going on.

The first thing you should do is wipe your dog’s nose and try to see where the discharge is coming from. If it seems to be coming from just one nostril, or if it’s dripping out quickly, then it’s probably not a big deal. It might be just that something small, like a bit of grass, has found its way into your dog’s nose, and will be speedily discharged on the next sneeze.

On the other hand, if the discharge comes from both nostrils, and it’s gelatinous, thick or creamy, there could be something more serious going on. If it’s red, green or yellow, that’s not good either, so you should arrange for your dog to see the vet as soon as possible. The problem could be a bacterial infection, parasites, or even cancer.

What About Treatment?

You should always make sure that your dog’s shots are up to date. Nasal discharge could be an indication of distemper. So always keep in mind that prevention is far better than a cure, and keep those vaccines up to date. I talked about this in Dog Vaccination Q&A.

Treatment, of course, depends on the cause of the nasal discharge. If it’s just a minor infection, probably a course of antibiotics will put things right. If it’s something more serious, then a more intensive treatment plan will be warranted.

So, do dogs have boogers? Yes. Is it always a problem? No. But it’s always something that should be monitored.

Well, that’s about it for nose boogers. I promised you that we’d talk about eye boogers too, so let’s get on to that.

Dog Eye Boogers

I’m not sure who originally coined the term “eye boogers” when it comes to the discharge that can come out of a dog’s eyes, but I think it’s a pretty good description for a problem that is very common. Who among us hasn’t wiped something disgusting out of their dog’s eyes? And then wondered if all that goo was normal or something that might be a cause for worry?

Dog Eye Boogers

Relax, Your Dog’s Not Going to Die

Here’s the thing. We’ve already answered the question, “Do dogs have boogers” as it relates to the nose, and pretty much concluded that most of the time it’s not a cause for worry. This is even truer when it comes to eye boogers.

Consider how many times in the run of a day you use your fingers to wipe your eyes without even thinking.

Now, imagine what it might be like if you couldn’t do that.

Most likely, tears and dirt and loose eyelashes and God only knows what else would build up, and you would end up with – yes, eye boogers!

Your dog also gets dirt and dust in his eyes, and there’s also a certain amount of natural discharge. All of this coagulates and ends up in kind of a gluey paste. So, do dogs have boogers in their eyes? Most certainly. Are they harmful? Not usually.

Eye boogers are hardly ever a sign of anything serious. Usually, the only time you really have to worry is if the discharge changes color from clear or white to yellow, or if you notice that the eye itself seems to look different – if it’s bulging, receding or clouding.

That said, there are certain conditions that could cause eye boogers and that might be a bit more problematic.

1. Allergies

Dogs are not much different from humans in that they can have allergies to things like dust, pollen or grass. If your dog is allergic, he could have eye boogers as well as snoring, scratching, irritated skin or even vomiting. If you think that your dog’s eye boogers might go hand in hand with an allergy, see your vet.

2. Conjunctivitis

If your dog’s eyes are unusually red, or if the eye discharge seems different from the usual “boogery” appearance, this could be an indication of conjunctivitis, which is an eye inflammation. Other symptoms could include squinting or pawing at the eyes. A vet visit is in order.

3. Epiphora

This condition manifests as excessive teary eyes – your dog might look as if he is crying. It can also result in a brownish discharge. Again, see your vet. This isn’t a deadly condition, but it should be treated.

4. Keratoconjunctivits Sicca (KCS)

This is almost the opposite of epiphora – with keratoconjunctivitis, the dog can’t produce enough tears and his eyes become very dry. Symptoms can include inflammation, a yellowish discharge, swelling of the eyelids and excessive blinking. It has to be treated, because if left alone, it could cause corneal damage and even blindness.

5. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is caused by pressure on the eye. Usually, with this type of disorder, you won’t notice eye boogers, because fluid is not draining properly. Your dog might blink a lot, though, and you might also notice bulging in the eye or dilated pupils. This condition has to be treated immediately, otherwise your dog could go blind.

Boogers Boogers Boogers

Okay, I just used that heading because I like saying “boogers,” and I don’t often get to do that in my posts. I’d also like to use “snot” repeatedly in a heading, but I’m going to try to restrain myself.

Now, back to the main point. Do dogs get boogers? Yes. They can have boogers in their nose, or they can develop what are, for want of a better term, “eye boogers.”

Most of the time, dog boogers aren’t a cause for concern. In rare cases, though, they can be problematic. I wouldn’t suggest that you go off the deep end and start obsessing over a bit of snot, but if anything looks out of the ordinary, please don’t take chances with your dog’s health. It’s far better to go to the vet and find out that you didn’t need to, than to not go and find out that you should have.

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The Final Word

Now you have the answer to the question, “Do dogs get boogers?” Yes. They sure do. Not usually in the nose, but those eye boogers can keep you busy with tissues. Most dog boogers aren’t harmful, though, so unless they’re accompanied by other symptoms, they’re not likely a big deal.