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What is Tearing?

Tears play an extremely important role in the health and function of the eye. The liquid helps to lubricate the eyelid, washes away any debris, provides nourishment, and has antimicrobial properties. Therefore, the presence of tears is completely normal. However, if your dog has an overabundance of tears constantly, otherwise known as epiphora, one of the following problems may be present. 

  • Eye irritation
  • Abnormal tear drainage
  • Shallow eye sockets 
  • Conjunctivitis 
  • Red eye (allergies, hyphema and inflammation are just a few of the reasons for this condition) 

While excessive tearing of the eyes is not life threatening, you may want to visit your vet in order to treat the underlying cause of tearing. In doing so you will ensure that your pet’s eyes are healthy and free of disease.

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Why Tearing Occurs in Dogs

Two common reasons why excessive tearing, or epiphora, occurs in dogs are eye irritation and abnormal tear drainage. There are many reasons for the condition which can vary greatly from corneal disease to tooth infections. Although epiphora is common and not necessarily serious in all cases, it can be very difficult to resolve.

Eye Irritation

When a foreign object becomes trapped in your dog’s eye, you may notice an excessive amount of tears as well as squinting and pawing at the eyes. This is a problem that needs to be addressed quickly as the prolonged stay of something sharp in the eye can cause considerable damage. Schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to get help removing the object. 

Abnormal Tear Drainage

Substantially more complicated than something caught in the eye, your dog will need to go through a small test in order to make sure the eye is draining properly. A dye called fluorescein will be applied to the surface of the eye. If everything is draining correctly, the dye will appear at the nostrils in a few moments. 

If there is a problem with the tear drainage there may be a few reasons why, such as:

  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Long hair around the eyes wicking away the moisture from the eyes

Shallow Eye Sockets

Because some breeds have smaller eye sockets, the construction of their face is not capable of containing the amount of tears produced; therefore, resulting in tearing and staining of the face fur. This is a problem that can be resolved with surgery. Ophthalmologists are a type of vet that specialize in this kind of eye surgery so it would be best for you to schedule an appointment with them if you are considering reconstructive eye surgery for your dog. 


Inflammation of the conjunctiva can occur because of infection or exposure to irritants. This cause for tearing in dogs should be evaluated by your veterinarian as bacteria or harmful substances may damage the eye.

Red Eye

This term encompasses many causes for tearing. Conditions such as allergies, a foreign body in the eye, corneal irritation, and blepharitis can all bring on excessive tearing. Any time that your pet appears to have an ocular issue, consult your veterinarian so that the condition can be treated; your companion may be experiencing pain along with the ulcer or irritant in the eye. Therapy for allergies can reduce tearing as can medication for a scratch or ulcer.

What to do if your Dog is Tearing

If the liquid coming from your dog’s eye is light and clear, there shouldn’t be too much to worry about, especially if you note that your dog is not in any noticeable pain. However, any form of excessive tearing should be checked at the clinic. In the meantime, gently remove the excess tears away from the fur of the face with a washcloth or cotton ball dipped in warm water. Wipe out and away from the eye in order to avoid injuring the cornea. It’s important to remove this liquid because bacteria like to feed on mucus, so you won’t want that to linger on your pet’s fur. 

If the tears are accompanied by a substance that is green, yellow, or resembling pus, you will want to set up an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Different color goo could be a sign of infection or injury so it is best to consult with the vet about how to best treat the underlying issue.

Prevention of Tearing

Although we want to do the best in protecting our animals, preventing an eye injury can be a difficult feat to achieve. In all cases of pet ownership, be certain to monitor your pet while outside to avoid exposure to harmful substances and circumstances. The best that you can do is always be sure to visit the vet in order to diagnose the situation before attempting any home remedies. If you notice that your dog has excessive tearing, pay attention to the color of the discharge as well as the behavior of your dog. Removing a foreign object from the eye or determining a blocked tear duct is the job for a vet; so address the problem as soon as possible to avoid any further injury to the eye.

Cost of Tearing

Treatment cost will vary depending on the underlying causes of your dog’s teary eyes. For example, treatment for an eye injury can be expensive and has a range between $200 to $2500 depending on the severity; the average being $600. If your dog is diagnosed with red eye, the average cost of treatment is $350.