Causes & Home Remedies Epiphora in Dogs

Causes & Home Remedies Epiphora in Dogs

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The owners are always responsible for their four-legged friends, and this implies not neglecting any aspect and no need for the dog (be it physical, social, or psychological). To know what your dog needs, you need to know it thoroughly and observe how disorders and health problems occur. Epiphora in Dogs is such a condition that is a cause of concern for affected dog owners. 

Behavioral changes and some obvious symptoms represent the alarm bell, thanks to which it is possible to understand that something is wrong and therefore something must be done as soon as possible. Today, the overflow of tears on the face is a common finding in dogs. It can produce a brown coloration of the facial hair in dogs

Epiphora in Dogs- What do Dog Tears mean?

Epiphora refers to a condition that causes an abnormal overflow of tears through the eyes of dogs. Dogs may occasionally have eye discharge (Epiphora), which manifests itself by an increased flow of tears from the affected eye. Frequently, mucous or purulent secretions are also found in the eye area. The lacrimal glands continuously produce tears, and these tears are released into the eyes. Each time the eyes flash, the tears along the outer leaf slide from the eyelid to the carpal (loose connective tissue with tortuous or dilated blood vessels near the nose) and further down the lacrimal sac. The drops then hang on the nose and keep them moist.

The production of tears and their normal distribution on the surface of a dog’s eyes are essential for the maintenance of healthy cornea and conjunctiva and the protection of the eye against possible pathogens. The tear film is also the outermost layer of the cornea to which it gives shine.

The dog’s eyeball has two important glands: the lacrimal gland and the nictitating gland the function is to secrete tears, a transparent liquid composed mainly of water that contains about 70 substances that have the function of oxygenating, lubricating, and nourishing the cornea, the outer and transparent layer of the eye.

What are the Symptoms and Types of Dog Epiphora?

Epiphora is visible through an overflow of tears, drainage of tears, or blemishes on the face. Other signs include:

  • Squinting
  • Aqueous secretion of one or both eyes
  • Inflammation
  • Redness and irritation
  • The skin around the eye is loose or drooping
  • Possible tear staining on the face below the eye, near the nose
  • Redness of the conjunctiva
  • Possible swelling of the eyelids or face of the eyelids
  • Possible reduction or loss of vision
  • Possible change in pupil size or eyeball

Also, there are two main types of epiphora:

  • Active epiphora related to an increase in tear production by the lacrimal glands (secondary to inflammation or pain)

Passive epiphora is linked to a lack of tear drainage through the lacrimal duct: the latter normally leads the tears that the eye produces to the nose. When the lumen of this canal is obstructed (secondary to inflammatory stenosis, an infection, a foreign body, a conformational anomaly linked to the breed – flat-nosed dogs, brachycephalic breeds), the tears accumulate at the base of the eye, then they “overflow” from the eye.

Causes of Watery Eyes in Dogs

The lacrimal glands produce tears whose role is to form a protective film, cleaning and lubricating the ocular surface. The secretion of tears by these glands can then increase when the eye undergoes irritation due to the following:

•     The presence of an unwanted body (e.g., spikelet, dust, sand, etc.) in the eye or a small traumatism of the cornea (e.g., scratch)

•     A projection in the eye by an acidic or alkaline chemical

•     The exposure of the eyes to smoke or wind

•     An allergic phenomenon

•     Entropion, a malformation of the eyelids which consists of an inward winding of the eye of all or part of the edge of the lower or upper eyelid which then comes to rub and irritate the conjunctival and corneal surfaces.

•     An ectropion: this is a malformation in which the free edges of the eyelid have returned to the outside of the eye. This can also cause chronic inflammation of the cornea, excessive conjunctivitis, and excessive tears.

•     Rubbing of the eyelashes or hair on the surface of the eye. This is the case when:

 •     The presence of ectopic lashes: these are eyelashes implanted in the wrong place that grow on the inside of the eyelid, inside the eye. It is responsible for irritation or ulceration of the cornea.

•      Trichiasis: this condition is characterized by irritation of the cornea and conjunctiva of the eye by the friction of normal hairs from around the eyes, folds of the nose, or nasal caruncula.

 •    Distichiasis: this eye condition is an abnormality of the implantation of eyelashes that rub on the cornea and irritate or ulcerate.

 •   Corneal or palpebral dermoid: it is a piece of skin that grows abnormally on the eyelid or the cornea. The hairs present on this piece of skin are often at the origin of irritating friction for the cornea or conjunctiva of the eye.

Irritation of the eyes causing watery eyes in dogs may also be due to various eye conditions such as:

•     Blepharitis: It is an inflammation of the eyelids that can be caused by a bacterial infection, a dysfunction of the immune system of the skin of the dog, or a parasitic infestation.

•     Conjunctivitis: This is an inflammation of the transparent mucosa which partially lines the inside of the eyelids as well as the white of the eye which can be infectious, allergic, or irritative.

•     A corneal ulcer: this may follow an ocular trauma, an abnormality of the tear film as in the case of dry keratoconjunctivitis in the dog, an eyelid abnormality, a paralysis of the trigeminal nerve, etc.

•     Uveitis: This refers to an inflammation of the inner envelope of the eye. It can be caused by a general disease of the animal or secondary to an ocular affection (cataract, corneal ulcer).

How to Diagnose Epiphora in Dogs

If your pet has excessive tearing, do take it to your vet for proper diagnosis. First, the vet performs a detailed eye exam to find out the cause of eye discharge (Epiphora) in the dog. He specifically searches for foreign bodies, injuries, and visible tumors. Also, he can take a swab of the conjunctiva. In this way, pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi can be detected as the cause of the disease.

Using a special staining test (fluorescein test), the veterinarian can determine if the lacrimal duct of the dog is blocked. For this purpose, he drops the greenish dye fluorescein into the dog’s eye. If the dye is secreted as a small drop on the nose, the tear duct is permeable. If you suspect distemper as the cause of the Epiphora in the dog, various tests are necessary, such as special blood tests or a study of cerebrospinal fluid ( CSF ). As a rule, however, there are other symptoms of distemper.

Furthermore, your veterinarian may also order x-rays to detect injuries, and further request an MRI scan or a CT scan. Also, a culture of the material in the eyes will be taken for laboratory analysis.

Epiphora Treatment for Dogs

The treatment for epiphora in dogs depends on the underlying cause. If the cause is a foreign body, it must be removed and the eye treated with an anti-inflammatory eye ointment. For breed-specific, genetic causes, the area around the eye should be wiped with warm water, better still a physical saline solution. If the eye discharge is allergic, mild eye drops may help to flush out the allergen. It is good in any case, as far as known, to avoid the allergen. The veterinarian will give antibiotics against bacteria as the cause. Antimycotics help against fungi. Both are usually administered as eye ointments or eye drops. Surgery may be necessary for tumors, severe corneal changes, and malocclusions of the eyelids as the cause of the ocular discharge.

Home Remedies for Watery Eyes in Dogs

Your dog can be very cute, but not so much when it has secretion coming out through his eyes. Watery eyes are very common in these animals, especially in some breeds.

If the watery eyes in your dog are due to a blockage of the lacrimal ducts, an application of hot compresses at home can help to unblock them. Some blockages are congenital; others are due to a foreign body, an infection, etc. We can try to solve it by applying eye drops, or cornflower eye drops 2 or 3 times a day.

The reason that the spots on the coat are red is that the tears of a dog contain porphyrin, a molecule containing iron. This molecule is excreted especially in the tears, saliva, and urine of the dog, but also by bile. Also, the steps below are great home remedies for watery eyes in dogs:

  • Take care of your dog’s diet, as the addition of cider vinegar to your dog’s diet will change the ph of his body and should help reduce this problem.
  • Boric Acid: Dissolve one tablespoon of boric acid in 200 to 250ml of warm water. You can go ahead and put this mixture in the eye inadvertently, as boric acid acts as an ocular disinfectant.
  • Lower mineral water: If you give your dog water with fewer minerals, it will improve the easy draining of its watery eyes.
  • Hygiene:  Check your dog’s eyes regularly to make sure they are totally free of any unwanted objects. Do also ensure that you dry your eyes and regularly clean your environment and toys to prevent the proliferation of bacteria.


Epiphora is a condition that causes an abnormal excess of tears in dogs. This condition can be very worrisome for dog owners, but with the guide highlighted above, dog epiphora can now be diagnosed and treated without any hassles.

Disclaimer Note:

All information contained in this website is intended for informational purposes only, as I am not a veterinarian. Furthermore, the content of the website should not be understood as an appeal to ignore the instructions or advice that may be issued by your veterinary doctor.

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