Every living being that has tear glands gets watery eyes. But watery eyes mean different things to different species. In human beings, eyes water mostly a result of emotions brought on by the blues, watching cute and cuddly animals, or when watching a captivating television show. On the contrary, emotions have nothing to do with watery eyes in dogs so if a dog appears to be crying, it is not because he is sad or emotional. Tearing is common in most dog breeds, especially those with loose jowls. But while your Beagle’s anatomy does not predispose him to have excessively teary eyes, you may have noticed his eyes tearing up from time to time. Though psychological reasons such as sadness may not be to blame, your Beagle’s watery eyes could be caused by medical reasons which range from mild to serious and that are discussed below.
The Root of the Behavior
Tears serve the primary role of cleansing the eyes to keep them functioning properly. They are necessary for lubrication, preventing dryness, carrying nutrition to the eyes, fighting infections and washing away dust and irritants. Beagles are scent hounds originally bred to hunt hares and since they always have their nose in one bush or another, they are susceptible to allergens that can cause irritation in the eyes. Therefore, it is normal for your Beagle’s eyes to tear to some extent, especially in reaction to foreign material in the eyes. An allergic reaction to medications used to treat eye infections can also cause watery eyes. Another common reason for why your beagle’s eyes water is if he has a scratched cornea. This can happen after a day of activity in the bushes or during playtime with other dogs. While a scratched cornea can heal on its own, it is advisable to take your dog to the vet to avoid infection.
Only when tearing is excessive do you need to worry. According to Dr. Ruth Macpete, one of the serious causes of excessive tearing is impaired drainage of the tear ducts, a condition known as epiphora and that occurs when tear ducts are blocked. Unlike human beings whose tear ducts drain through the eyes, dogs’ tear ducts drain through the throat. Teary eyes would, therefore, mean that fluid is flowing in the wrong direction. You can tell if your Beagle has epiphora by checking for dampness around his eyes. If the area is very damp, it means that the tearing is not normal but has been going on for a while. You may also notice irritation on the skin around the eye. Dr. Allison Dascoli also warns about distichiasis, a medical condition which can occur in all dog breeds and cause severe irritation in the eyes. Distichiasis is a condition that causes eyelashes that grow inwards to irritate your dog’s eyes whenever he blinks. The hairs might be difficult to spot with the naked eye, so they might not be obvious to you.
Encouraging the Behavior
Due to the number of reasons that could cause teary eyes, addressing the problem should start with a diagnosis at a vet clinic. It’s also important to give the problem immediate attention because eyes are sensitive organs and any delays could result in permanent damage. The treatment for teary eyes will depend on the diagnosis. Reflex tearing, that is watery eyes that are caused by foreign material in the eyes, should be nothing to worry about and should clear as soon as the object is expelled. However, if the wateriness persists, you should take your dog to the vet as it could mean your Beagle is allergic to a food item or product you use in your house. In addition to using medication to treat the allergies, the vet can put him on elimination diets to identify the cause of the reaction.
Unclear tears are a sign of infection and should be treated by a veterinarian immediately. If a tear duct obstruction is the reason for the tearing, the veterinarian will recommend procedures or medication to address the obstruction. Other conditions such as corneal abrasions can be treated with topical medicine and tests done to determine that the abrasion does not affect the integrity of the eye. Dr. Allison Dascoli outlines a procedure for treating distichiasis, whereby errant hairs are removed by directing electric impulses at hair follicles. The procedure may have to be repeated a few more times in case new hair grow but according to Dr. Dascoli, after about two repetitions, the hairs should stop growing altogether.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Sometimes, all your Beagle needs is grooming. It is possible for his eyebrows and eyelashes to grow so long that they enter the eye and all you need to do to correct this situation is to take him to the dog spa or if you trust your hair trimming skills, give your pooch’s extra-long brows a trim. But this is as far as you should go with DIY procedures. Dr. Ruth Macpete warns against DIY home treatments as they could cause more infections or adverse reactions. In an article he wrote about causes of eye infections Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM, warns that having your pooch on a very tight collar could cause eye congestion. He likens the effects of a tight collar to having a human being in a choke hold, an uncomfortable position that will cause the choking human’s eyes to redden and emit discharge. If your dog wears a collar, loosen it and check if the tearing will stop. Dr Dobias also recommends using harnesses instead of chains and collars as they are safer.
So, the next time you see your Beagle tearing up, it is not because he is overcome with emotion out of his love for you. It is tempting and flattering to think this way but if there is one thing this post has shown, there are many physical reasons why your beagle has watery eyes, some mild and manageable and others serious and cause for a visit to the vet.
By a Golden Retriever lover Maryanne Gaitho
Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 01/30/2020