Watery eyes in dogs is caused either by excessive production of tears or by obstructed drainage of normal tear production for eye lubrication. These problems themselves have various possible underlying causes.
If your hearing, guide, or service dog is experiencing overly watery eyes, it can detract from her focus and interfere with her ability to perform her important tasks. On top of that, there may be something going on that needs to be addressed for her comfort and health.
Here’s some basic information about watery eyes in dogs to help you understand what’s going on with your assistance dog. Of course, whenever you observe symptoms or have a concern about your canine partner, consult your veterinarian.
Symptoms You May Notice in Your Assistance Dog
The primary symptom of watery eyes is fairly obvious: a watery appearance to the eyes, streaming tears, or clear discharge from the eyes. Along with this, however, you may also notice your assistance dog blinking a lot or squinting, damp or tear-stained fur around the eyes, red eyes, pawing at the eyes, or other indications of irritation.
Whether one or both eyes are affected is an important clue in determining what’s going on.
Causes of Watery Eyes in Dogs
Many instances of excessive tearing are explained simply by a foreign body in the eye or the tear duct, such as dust, dirt, grass, pollen, or other debris; turned-in eyelashes and turned-in upper or lower eyelids can also be to blame. Tearing is the body’s way of flushing out the irritant, and also of lubricating an irritated, scratched, or otherwise injured eye.
If your assistance dog has been out in particularly cold or windy weather, this too can prompt some temporary tearing—just as it might in you.
Some of the more common other triggers of watery eyes include:
- Colds, sinus infections, and upper respiratory infections
- Scratched cornea
- Trauma to the eye or face
- Tumors on or near the eye
- Blocked nasolacrimal drainage system (which may be congenital or from a cause like inflammation, trauma, medication side effects, a tumor, etc.)
Treating Your Service, Guide, or Hearing Dog’s Watery Eyes
Treatment of watery eyes in dogs obviously depends on the cause. See your veterinarian, who will ask about the symptoms you’ve noticed, perform a physical examination, and order any necessary tests to arrive at a diagnosis.
Some general treatment approaches may include:
- Often, tearing will flush out an irritant, but if the problem doesn’t resolve quickly, your veterinarian may need to remove the irritant and/or flush the eye or tear ducts
- Infections are treated with antibiotics or other appropriate therapies
- Avoiding allergens as much as possible, and maybe managing allergies with medication
- Removal of misdirected eyelashes or hairs
- Medications, fluid draining, and/or other interventions for glaucoma