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Epiphora in Dogs


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Epiphora is simply an overflow of tears from your dog's eyes. Some breed’s eyes run more than other breeds. However, tears are often a symptom of an eye condition or disease. Epiphora occurs when your furry companion’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 that do not drain properly. You may notice, with your lighter colored dogs, a tear stain on their fur near their eyes and snout.

What are the symptoms of epiphora in dogs?

There are certainly tell-tale signs of epiphora to watch for in your dog. If your dog has swelling around the eyes or a constant or continuous mucus-like discharge, they may be suffering and uncomfortable. Your dog's eyes may be red or bloodshot, and you may see them pawing at and scratching their eyes due to incessant itching. Reddish-brown or dark tear stains may streak from the eyes down towards the snout. If your pooch has these symptoms, you may want to see your veterinarian for a diagnosis and an understanding of what might be causing the excessive tear production.

What are the causes of epiphora?

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 pup’s fur, causing excessive leakage and the potential for bacterial growth under and around the eyes. 

If your dog is producing too many tears, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about environmental factors which may cause their 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. They could be allergic to dust or sand, or even insects like fleas that burrow under the fur and bite the skin. Some allergens may cause respiratory distress, and that could also cause epiphora. Other allergens could be found in your dog's food.

Consult your veterinarian

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 the excessive tearing. Your veterinarian may make recommendations such as keeping the eye area 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 pooch 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 pet parents. 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 four-legged companion 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 causing epiphora and discharge from your dog's eyes. Remembering this is not only cosmetic, but that epiphora could also potentially be painful and uncomfortable for your dog is important.

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