Epiphora is simply an overflow of tears from your dog's eyes. Some breed’s eyes run more than other breeds. However, often with most dogs, tears are a symptom of an eye condition or disease. Epiphora occurs when your dog’s eyes create excessive tears, or there is not enough or proper drainage. Breeds who have smaller faces or smooshed noses, structural defects, or inflamed or blocked tear ducts can have tears which do not drain properly. You may notice, with your lighter colored dogs, a tear stain on their fur near their eyes and snout.
There are certainly tell-tale signs of epiphora to watch for in your dog. If your dog has swelling around her eyes or a constant or continuous mucus-like discharge, she may be suffering and uncomfortable. Your dog's eyes may be red or bloodshot, and you may see your dog pawing at and scratching her eyes due to incessant itching. Reddish brown or dark tear stains may streak from her eyes down towards her snout. If your dog has these symptoms, you may want to see your veterinarian for a diagnosis and an understanding of what might be causing epiphora in your dog.
Your dog could be suffering from allergies, irritants, a blockage, or even an overproduction of tear glands. Talking to your veterinarian will help break down the causes of the excessive tears your dog is producing. Your dog’s tear ducts might be blocked if their eyes are swollen or if your dog was born with a congenital defect. As the tears pool from a blocked tear duct, they may become trapped underneath your dog’s fur, causing excessive leakage and the potential for bacterial growth under and around her eyes. If your dog is producing too many tears, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about environmental factors which may cause her eyes to water excessively. Allergies are another common cause of epiphora in dogs. Your dog could be allergic to irritants such as seasonal allergies outside or inside with indoor plants. She could be allergic to dust or sand or even insects which burrow under her skin and in her fur. Some allergens may cause respiratory distress, and that could also cause epiphora in your dog. Other allergens could be found in your dog's food.
Working with your veterinarian to figure out what your dog might be allergic to and how to address those allergies is the best course of action to get a handle on epiphora in your dog. Your veterinarian may make recommendations such as keeping her eye areas clean with a gentle daily wipe or a saline flushing. Your veterinarian could also prescribe a tear stain remover and cleanser for the area underneath your dog's eyes. If your dog has seasonal allergies or food allergies, your veterinarian could also prescribe medications or discuss dietary options.
Epiphora is not only a cosmetic issue for many dog owners. Though often found in small light-colored dogs such as Maltese or Poodles, epiphora creates more than just tear stains against white fur. If your dog is experiencing signs of epiphora, have your veterinarian perform a thorough exam to ensure your dog does not have other conditions, eye disease, or allergies which might be causing epiphora and discharge from your dog's eye. Remembering this is not only cosmetic but epiphora could also potentially be painful and uncomfortable for your dog is important.