Dogs With Runny Eyes – Symptoms and Causes (March 2019)

If your dog has runny or watery eyes and you’re not sure why, I’m going to be going into the reasons why, the symptoms of dogs with watery eyes, and what you can do to help your pup.

Keep in mind, however, that typical eye boogers aren’t generally an issue unless they’re in large amounts, especially runny, and appear different than they normally do on a regular day.

Watery, Runny Eyes – The Causes of Eye Discharge in Dogs

There are a lot of different reasons as to why your dog is dealing with runny eyes, some of which are an underlying problem to something much bigger.

Allergies and Foreign Objects

If you spot your dog having eye discharge that’s clear and looks as if they’re tearing up, it’s more than likely your dog has allergies to something or has something stuck in their eye, irritating it.

If you notice abnormal, but minimal, tearing in your dog’s eye or eyes, make sure you monitor it. Your dog may have had something get into their eye or eyes while outside for a walk. If this is the case, it will correct itself over time.

If the tearing is still present after a few days, make sure you take your dog to the vet.

Epiphora – Excessive Tearing

A dog with teary eyes going through epiphora is much like a dog suffering from allergies, but it’s a bit more extensive that that.

Epiphora occurs through excessive amounts of eye watering that leads to stained fur and, more often than not, infected skin.

This type of condition can come from other health problems, as well. Corneal ulcers, for example, can cause excessive tearing.


Conjunctivitis causes the lining of a dog’s eye to become swollen and inflammed, which include symptoms like watery, green-yellow, or a mucusy eye discharge.

You may also see your dog pawing at their eyes, keeping the affected eye(s) closed, a crust-like substance on their paws, squinting of the affected eye(s), red eyes, and blinking more than usual.

Unfortunately, a dog can develop conjunctivitis from having dry eyes, tumors, foreign objects stuck in the eye, allergies, birth defects, an injury, and a problem with the tear ducts of that eye.

Conjunctivitis is a serious condition that must be treated by a vet, but you can use a warm, wet wash cloth a few times a day at home to help relieve some of the irritation and swelling.

Dry Eyes

If your dog has dry eyes, you need to take it seriously – this is not a simple issue that you can solve on your own. It can lead to a lot of serious problems.

Dry eyes, though they’re dry, can cause discharge to make up for the fact that the eyes are, you guessed it, dry.

Both dog and human eyes require the cleansing tears to keep them moist, flush foreign objects out, and more.

The dangers of dry eyes in dogs is that their eyelids can actually scratch the surface of their eyes just by blinking.

Serious health problems, such as ulcers located on the corneas, can result from a dog’s dry eyes that have gone without treatment for certain periods of time.

Unfortunately, this type of condition can result from an injury, damage to the glands in charge of producing tears, an attack on the body’s immune system toward the tissue of the tear glands, and distemper.

Symptoms usually include inflammed, red eyes that are painful and sore.

It Comes With the Breed

Some dog breeds are more prone to watery, runny eyes than others. Breeds, bulldogs, and other flat-faced breeds are also known as brachycephalic breeds because they have eyes that are more prone to problems with properly draining their tears.

These breeds are more prone to these problems because they tend to have protruding eyes and shallow eye sockets.

They can go through entropion, which happens when the eyelids don’t fully cover the eyes of a dog when they are closed. That, or their eyelashes cause great irritation to the eyes. Both require some form of correction surgery.


This condition is common among cocker spaniels, Saint Bernards, bloodhounds, and other breeds that have loose skin around the facial area.

These breeds are prone to ectropion, which will happen if a gland in the dog’s eyelid falls out of place.

Cherry Eye

Breeds with loose facial skin, like the ones mentioned above, are prone to cherry eye more than other breeds. However, it can happen to both dogs and cats, but is primarily seen in younger pups under the age of 2.

Cherry eye from a dog’s third eyelid, known as the disorder of the nictitating membrane.

If you see a fleshy, red mass in your dog’s eye, your dog likely has cherry eye. This mass comes from the gland responsible prolapsing and protruding from the eye.


This condition occurs when there is an excessive amount of pressure in a dog’s eye, which can appear in the form of a cloudy, tearing, or bulging eye or eyes.

Glaucoma is painful and, in more severe cases, will require a dog to undergo surgery for it.

Nipping the Problem as it Occurs

Unfortunately, prolonged eye problems can cause blindness, so make sure you take your dog to the vet as soon as you possibly can if you have a concern that abnormal tearing is present.


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