Excessive Watering and Eye Watering in Dogs

Have you noticed your dog’s eyes watering or excessive tearing? Excessive tearing, or epiphora, is a common problem in dogs. It can develop into a discharge that is clear, white, yellow, or even green.1 When a dog’s eyes water and water, it is usually a sign of an eye problem. There are a number of possible causes of eye watering and excessive tearing in dogs. In most cases, the dog will need some type of human intervention to help. In some cases, medical care is required.

Causes of Excessive Watering and Eye Watering in Dogs

There are numerous eye problems that can occur in dogs. Many of these cause excessive tearing and eye watering. Some eye problems are more serious than others.

Breed Disposition

Short-snouted and brachycephalic breeds such as Shih Tzus, Cocker Spaniels, Maltese, Bulldogs, and Pugs are particularly prone to eye discharge due to the shape of their faces. Many small dog breeds also have excessive tearing. Moisture can collect in the folds of skin on the face and nose of some breeds, providing an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. This can lead to infection if it is not kept clean and dry.

Excessive Watering and Eye Watering in Dogs

Eye Infections

Dogs can develop bacterial, viral, or fungal infections in their eyes. This can be caused by an irritant that has entered the eye. It can also be transmitted from other animals. Once an eye infection is present, the dog will need to be treated with the appropriate prescription medication. This often involves applying drops or ointments to the eyes several times a day.


If your dog has environmental allergies, the eyes may become red and watery.1 This is similar to the way hay fever affects people. Antihistamines can sometimes help.


Anything that irritates the eye can cause excessive tearing and eye discharge. Minor irritants or allergens can cause a dog to rub their eyes, worsening the irritation and inflammation. More serious eye injuries can occur when a sharp object, such as an animal’s claw or object, scratches the eye. If you suspect your dog has an eye injury, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Blocked tear ducts

The nasolacrimal duct drains tears from the eyes through the nose.2 A blocked nasolacrimal duct causes normal tears to overflow from the eye instead of draining as normal.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)

This condition, also called dry eye, is characterized by underproduction of tears.3 This causes irritation of the eye due to the lack of lubrication. Very dry eyes can result in thick, sticky discharge, infection, pain, and vision problems. Veterinary intervention is required to treat this problem.

Corneal ulcers

An abrasion of the cornea can occur as a result of trauma, infection, or another eye condition.4

Corneal ulcer. American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists Public

Without treatment, corneal ulcers can have very serious consequences and even lead to loss of vision or even the eye itself.

Excessive Watering and Eye Watering in Dogs


This condition causes abnormal growth of the eyelashes. Hairs grow along the eyelid and toward the eye itself, causing irritation.


This condition causes the eyelid to roll inward. The lid and eyelashes rub against the cornea, causing irritation.5

What to do if your dog's eyes are watery and oozing?

It’s important to take action at the first sign of an eye problem. If the discharge is light to moderate and your dog’s eyes aren’t red or swollen, waiting is appropriate. Keep the area around the eyes as clean and dry as possible. If the discharge doesn’t get better on its own or you notice other signs of eye problems, it’s important to seek veterinary attention.

Contact your veterinarian if you notice:

Odor from the eye discharge

Yellow or green discharge from the eye

Blinking or twitching of the eye

Redness or swelling of the eye or the area around the eye

Your dog scratches the eye or rubs his face1

Vision problems

Eye problems can become serious very quickly if not treated by a veterinarian. Don’t delay, or your dog may develop permanent eye problems.

First, your veterinarian will take your medical history and ask you about your lifestyle, past health problems, and any current signs you’ve noticed. Next, a veterinary exam will be performed. Your veterinarian willYour dog’s eyes will be examined with a light.

A “tear test” may be performed to check your dog’s tear production. This involves placing special paper strips in the eyes and measuring the time it takes for the tears to reach a line on the paper strip.

Next, a painless, harmless eye dye (called fluorescein stain) may be applied to look for corneal abrasions (ulcers). Depending on the results of the exam and preliminary tests, other eye tests may be recommended.

Treating Watery Eyes

Your veterinarian will recommend treatment depending on the diagnosis. This often includes using medicated eye ointment or drops that you apply at home several times a day. Sometimes oral medications are prescribed as well.

Most dogs need to wear an E-collar (the “cone” or lampshade that is worn around the neck). This collar prevents your dog from pawing at his eyes and rubbing his face. Do not remove it unless your veterinarian says it is OK. Further irritation can cause serious eye damage.

In some cases, surgical treatment may be necessary, especially if the cause is entropion or another anatomical abnormality.5In complicated cases, your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

How to Prevent Excessive Tearing and Watering Eyes

If your dog has no underlying health problems, there is a good chance you can prevent excessive tearing and the resulting odor by following a few simple procedures:

Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly.

When grooming at home, keep the fur around your dog’s eyes as short as possible. To avoid injury, it’s often best to take your pet to a groomer for a trim.

If your dog is prone to excessive tearing, daily washing and gently drying the area around the eyes can prevent irritation. Over-the-counter optical-grade eyewash solutions are generally safe to use to keep the eye area clean and odor-free.