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What are Watery Eyes?

Complications of an ocular nature can vary greatly in a cause. Excessive tearing can result from abnormalities with the eyelids, infection, or diseases of the eye. Resolution of epiphora can range from simple to complex. While epiphora is not breed specific, certain breeds are more predisposed to some ocular conditions. For example, dogs with the anatomical “flattened or squished” face can have problems related to tear duct drainage.

Epiphora is the medical term for an excessive watery, ocular discharge. Often secondary to a variety of conditions, watery eyes become a problem when accompanied by other symptoms that indicate irritation. Eye conditions can be painful for your pet and should be investigated by a veterinarian without delay.

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Average Cost

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Symptoms of Watery Eyes in Dogs

Veterinarian treatment is essential when dealing with eye conditions. Disorders of the eye can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog. If you notice or come across any of the symptoms below, contact the veterinary caregiver for an appointment.

  • Puffiness around the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Squinting, which can mean pain
  • Discharge
  • Reddish brown staining of the fur
  • Dampness or wetness under the eye
  • Sneezing
  • Eye or skin infection
  • Holding eye shut
  • Odor
  • Rubbing of eyes with the paw, or against other objects
Types

There are several types of ocular conditions that can cause watery eyes, some of which are listed below.

  • Distichiasis
    • An entire row of eyelashes can be affected
    • The eyelashes may grow in an abnormal direction or in an abnormal location on the eyelid
    • Genetics play a factor
    • Many breeds can be affected: Chesapeake Retriever. Golden Retriever, Shetland Sheepdog, Pekingese, Pug, Boxer, Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Dachshund, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, American Cocker Spaniel, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso
  • Entropion
    • With this condition, the eyelid rolls inward
    • The hair on the surface of the eyelid rubs against the cornea
    • Some of the many breeds that may be affected by this congenital disorder are Akita, Shar Pei, Great Pyrenees, American Staffordshire Terrier, Pekingese, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Bulldog, Pomeranian, Mastiff, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Japanese Chin, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Dalmatian, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Weimaraner, Poodle, Basset Hound and Irish Setter
  • Conjunctivitis
    • This is an inflammation of the lining tissue that covers the eye
    • Often both eyes will be involved
    • May be secondary to another disease
    • Breed associated conditions may predispose German Shepherds and Collies
  • Dacryocystitis
    • An inflammation of the tear duct which can be genetic (such as abnormal development) or acquired (tumor or bacteria)
    • Brachycephalic breeds are susceptible due to the shallow eye socket and the tight eyelid
    • Examples of this breed, which have a flat and wide skull, are the Pug, Pekingese, Bulldog and Boston Terrier
  • Corneal Ulcer
    • This is the erosion through the epithelium (outer layer of eye) into the stroma (main support tissue for the cornea)
    • The most common cause is trauma
    • Can be secondary to other diseases like Epithelial Dystrophy, which can be inherited by Boxers
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Causes of Watery Eyes in Dogs

There can be many causes for watery eyes which lead to various degrees of seriousness. Several of the causes are listed here.

  • Breeds with excessive hair on the face can have the hair growing into the eye
  • Eyelashes growing at an abnormal angle
  • Allergy to pollen
  • Dust, smog
  • Trauma, punctures, scratches
  • Tumor
  • Sprays or perfumes
  • Bacteria
  • Virus
  • Fungi
  • Chronic infection
  • Glaucoma
  • Facial anatomy that causes inadequate tear drainage
  • Blocked tear duct
  • Congenital issues like folds on the skin that become infected from constant wetness
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Diagnosis of Watery Eyes in Dogs

Because watery eyes can be the indication of a serious problem, do not delay in taking your dog to the veterinarian for an eye examination. The veterinary caregiver will want to know how long the eyes have been watering, and whether there has been the presence of an illness of late.

If your dog is showing signs of pain, a topical anesthetic may be applied directly to the eye before the examination begins, in order to make the surface numb. A fluorescein stain may be administered in the eye. This is a painless procedure to verify if there are scratches, to check for foreign objects, or to assess tear drainage. Once the stain has been applied and your dog’s head is tilted slightly downward, the veterinary caregiver will assess the drainage capabilities of the nose. Normal function will allow the stain to become evident in the nose within minutes.

The veterinarian will also examine your pet’s eyes to evaluate tear production, corneal damage, and nasolacrimal duct function. Radiographs may be included to look for possible obstructions.

Depending on the cause for the epiphora, the veterinarian may suggest further investigation with an ophthalmologist.

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Treatment of Watery Eyes in Dogs

The treatment of watery eyes in dogs will vary depending on the cause.

  • Distichiasis and entropion
    • In the case of distichiasis and entropion, surgery is the most viable option.
    • Because the eyelashes and the hair on the eyelid can rub against the eyeball, ulcers can result.
    • If the ulcers are left untreated, vision loss can occur
  • Conjunctivitis
    • If not taken care of, conjunctivitis can lead to impaired vision
    • Treatment involves flushing the eye, and a course of antibiotic therapy
    • Eye drops and eye ointments are also given
  • Dacryocystitis
    • Treatment will mean flushing out the eye with sterile water or saline solution
    • Antibiotics will be prescribed
    • If the damage is too severe, surgery might be needed to create a new drainage pathway
    • The new drainage route will empty tears into the nasal cavity, mouth or sinus
  • Corneal Ulcer
    • It is important to care for an ulcer without delay because the eye can be damaged beyond repair
    • Antibiotic eyedrops and ointments are required
    • There's a decent likelihood that your dog may be required to wear an Elizabethan collar so as to not rub the eye
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Recovery of Watery Eyes in Dogs

Return visits to the clinic will be necessary in the case of epiphora. Complete resolution of the secondary problem is critical. Recurrent intermittent episodes of conditions related to watery eyes are not uncommon; therefore, even if you feel that your dog is back to normal, the veterinarian will need to confirm that the therapy has been thorough and sufficient. It should be noted that multiple flushings may be needed in many cases.

You may need to administer eye drops or ointment at home for a period of time. The veterinarian will be able to coach you on the best method of giving the eye drops.

For the breeds who have hair that may interfere with preventing a recurrence, diligent grooming by a professional is needed.

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Watery Eyes Average Cost

From 62 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$450

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Watery Eyes Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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chihu

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My chihuahua is keeping on eye closed. He can open it when he wants to see something, but it's got a murky liquidy film over a little part. No redness, or real irritation that can be noticed. He will let me open it and take a picture. He is not sick or acting different. It happened earlier today. I think it might be a foreign object in his eye or scratched eye from dirt or debris. How can I clean this for him to see if it's just debris. We have 3 chihuahuas and our vet knows us very well. We can handle most things at home but do come to visit when it's very important and home treatments dont work

Feb. 6, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, you can use contact saline to help get anything stuck in his eye out. If there is a scratch on his eye your vet would need to prescribe antibiotics to help it heal without getting infected.

Feb. 6, 2021

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Mutt

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Six Years

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2 found helpful

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Itching

My dogs periocular area bilaterally are a little red and he rubs up against furniture and itches his eyes or face not sure which with his paws. He does always rub up against furniture after he eats and we know he is allergic to chicken we cut that when he was eating his paw. We aren’t sure if it is his food again we got him the same brand of food but one that just has kibble with no extra.

Oct. 9, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. In dogs generalized itchiness as well as facial and ocular itchiness is commonly the result of allergies. In about 80 to 90% of our dogs the allergy is environmental and in about 10 to 20% of our dogs the allergy is food related. I would recommend giving your veterinarian a call to discuss treatment options for allergies and schedule a consult. I would recommend discussing apoquel and cytopoint with your veterinarian to help with his facial itchiness, and he may need additional medication for his eyes. Both Apoquel and cytopoint help about 75-80% of dogs with allergies. Another option would be to consider a hydrolyzed protein diet trial for him. If none of these options are effective then the next step would be a consult with a dermatologist. Good luck.

Oct. 9, 2020

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German Shepherd

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Five Weeks

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0 found helpful

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Not Eating Food

My german shepherd puppy is not eating

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your puppy is not feeling well. We get very concerned in young puppies about parasites and infectious diseases like parvovirus, and if your puppy is not eating, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to examine your puppy, see if any simple tests need to be run, and get treatment so that your puppy did not become dehydrated. I hope that all goes well and they feel better soon.

Sept. 29, 2020

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German Shepherd

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4 months

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Eyes

Dog have watery eyes

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Chihuahua

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Itching

My dog start getting watery eyes all of sudden and I saw few time him scratching his eyes too

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello From what you are describing, it sounds like your pup may have allergies. I recommend that you call your vet or take him in for an exam, and they may direct you to bring him in or possibly give Benadryl if indicated. Good luck.

July 21, 2020

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Teddy

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Shih-Tzu

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Eyes

My dog was playing with a puppy for a couple days. It was normal play, but now my dog has watery eyes. He will sometimes paw at his eyes. Should I just keep an eye on it? Or should I take him in? He doesn’t seem to be in pain, but the watery eyes are worse tonight.

Watery Eyes Average Cost

From 62 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$450

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