Causes of Watery, Itchy Eyes in Dogs

Like humans, dogs can experience itchy, watery eyes. What causes a pet’s eyes to water and stain the fur? Environmental irritants, medical conditions and poor grooming habits may contribute to itchy, watery eyes in dogs.
Watery eyes and red eyelids indicate an ocular disturbance called epiphora, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A healthy dog should have bright, clear eyes void of any clear or colored discharge.

What causes watery eyes?

When an irritant enters a dog’s eye the animals tear production increases to try to wash away the disturbance. During this process you may notice the pet exhibiting a glassy-eye appearance and the secretions staining the pet’s facial fur. Dog breeds with shallow eye sockets — such as poodles, shih tzus and malteses — are more prone to tear stains than dogs with deep-set eyes.

When an irritant enters a dog’s eye the animals tear production increases to try to wash away the disturbance. During this process you may notice the pet exhibiting a glassy-eye appearance and the secretions staining the pet’s facial fur. Dog breeds with shallow eye sockets — such as poodles, shih tzus and malteses — are more prone to tear stains than dogs with deep-set eyes.

Reducing Environmental Irritants

Some pets respond to allergens with increased tear production. Pollen, grasses, dust and pollution can irritate dogs. Keeping the pet indoors during high pollen counts, installing a home air purifier and walking the pet on paved surfaces can reduce the animal’s discomfort and eye watering. Giving the pet a bath after playtime outside helps remove lingering pollen spores from its fur.

Good Grooming Habits

Dogs with naturally long facial fur require routine grooming. When the fur grows too long, hair follicles may rub against the pet’s eyes or eyelids, causing irritation and eye watering. Overgrown eyelashes can also cause irritation. If left untreated, secretions from eye watering can get trapped in facial wrinkles and cause skin infections or tear staining on the fur. Regular grooming can remedy this cause for water eyes.

Medical Concerns

If the pet’s watery eyes are accompanied by discolored ocular secretions, disoriented movements or regular rubbing of the eyes, the pet may have an infection or medical condition that requires veterinary treatment. Have the vet check the pet for viral conjunctivitis, damage to the tear ducts and drainage system or glaucoma. Discuss all foods and supplements given to the pet. Allergic reactions to a prescription medication, pet vitamin or new dog food can cause eye watering.

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