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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Watery Eye (Epiphora)




Condition Overview

There are many conditions in which a watery eye or mucus discharge overflows the eyes and runs down the face. With a severe watery eye, there is a constant wetness and the skin may become inflamed and infected, adding to the dogs unsightly appearance and physical discomfort.


Excessively watery eyes.


There are many causes that lead to watery eye.


You must attempt to identify the precipitating condition (the root cause) before moving forward.


The dog's appearance can be improved for cosmetic purposes by plucking the stained hairs or clipping them close to the face. Daily cleaning alone will decrease, but not eliminate the discoloration. Stains can be removed by bathing the area with a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide (1:10). Apply the solution to a Q-tip to be sure peroxide does not get into the eyes.

Do not use chlorine bleach for the eye stains! The fumes are painful and may cause chemical conjunctivitis. Bleach in a dogs eye can cause serious injury leading up to blindness. Commercial grooming wipes are also available to help with year stains.

This condition often improves when the dog is given a course of tetracycline, which is secreted in the tears and binds the photochemicals that cause the staining. The face remains wet but is not discolored. Tetracycline is given orally for 3 weeks. If the staining returns after the antibiotic is stopped, long-term antibiotics can be considered. One option is to add low dose tetracycline to the dog's food daily.


There is currently no prevention for watery eye.


Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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