Drippy eyes aren’t just ugly, they can signify major medical problems. It’s normal to occasionally see a little bit of watery discharge, but if you’re seeing something out of the ordinary, you must pay attention.
Here are seven top reasons your dog’s eyes might be watering.
The 7 Reasons Your Dog’s Eyes Are Watering
Conjunctivitis is a broad term to describe inflammation in the membrane that covers your dog’s eyeball and eyelids.1 It’s also known as “pink eye” because it can cause the eye to appear redder than normal. Other signs include watery discharge and excessive pawing or rubbing at the eyes. Conjunctivitis can be caused by many reasons, including irritants, allergies, foreign material, immune-mediated problems, trauma, bacteria, viruses, and parasites, so the treatment depends on the type of conjunctivitis.
Allergies are a common reason your dog might have watery eyes.2 This condition is usually called allergic conjunctivitis. Your dog might also have skin problems associated with the allergy. Dust mites, pollen, mold spores, insect bites, and other allergens can cause itchiness, swelling, and red or watery eyes. If your dog has signs of allergy, your vet can help you diagnose it so that you can avoid triggers or use medication to help manage signs. Allergies can rarely be cured but, with your work in collaboration with your vet, they can be managed and you can keep your dog much more comfortable.
3. Eye Injuries
If your dog gets cut or bruised near the eye, it can cause the eyes to water excessively. Eye injuries can be minor or serious—some will heal very quickly with no consequences, but others can cause permanent damage or even blindness. If your dog’s eye is watering because of an injury in their eye, even a small cut near the eye, you should consult a vet.
4. Ulcers in Cornea
The cornea is the transparent membrane that covers your dog’s eye. They often form ulcers after an eye injury or certain infections.3 Corneal ulcers are very painful, and your dog will probably keep its eye shut or paw at its eye. Your vet might prescribe painkillers, and give drops or ointment to prevent or treat infection, or might suggest a more intensive round of medication or other treatment depending on the severity of the ulcer. In serious cases, surgery might be required.
5. Eye Infections
Various infections can cause watery eyes. Eye infections can also cause cloudy, yellow, or greenish discharge, swelling, redness, or pus. If you think your dog has an infection, take it to the vet to get a diagnosis and a round of antibiotics. Most infections are relatively easy to treat if addressed promptly, but, as with any eye problem, they can cause serious consequences if left untreated.
6. Abnormal Anatomy
Your dog’s anatomy can also affect how much its eyes water. Dogs with flat faces, like Pugs and Boxers, can have several issues with their eye anatomy. Your dog’s eyelid shape (rolled in or out) can cause issues, the same as your dog’s eyelashes. Distichia (eyelashes that grow pointing inward) and ectopic cilia (eyelashes that grow on the inside of the eyelid) can cause eye irritation and watery eyes. In some cases, surgery may be needed to improve eye health.
7. Normal Tear Staining
Of course, it’s also possible that you just see normal eye discharge. If your dog has white or very light fur around its eyes, you might see a little reddish-brown staining by their inner eye. This is totally normal!
There are things you can do to help get rid of them, but beware that having white fur can make it very hard to eliminate. First, you’ll want to make sure no fur gets inside the eyes. It’s better not to trim it since hairs grow hard and spiky and can cause more harm. If you still see stains, you’ll also want to wipe them down with a clean, wet cloth a few times a day.
It can be tricky to know if what your pet is experiencing is normal. Some tear staining and crust around the eye might be considered normal for some dogs, but if what you’re seeing doesn’t match with what’s the norm for your dog, you might be seeing the first signs of a health problem. If that is the case, a consultation with a vet is needed. Ultimately, every dog is different, and you know better than anyone if your dog is in any distress.