CVMA | Documents | The Crying Game: Why Dogs Cry

The Crying Game: Why Dogs Cry

October 23, 2012

Excessive tearing (also called epiphora) is the result of an overflow of tears from the eyes. In certain breeds of dogs (e.g. Poodles, Spaniels, Pugs, etc.), it is normal but can be a cosmetic problem. The bronze staining of the hairs is due to a compound in the tears called porphyrin.

While more often than not, epiphora is merely of cosmetic concern, it can also be an important sign of ocular pain. For example, if there is a corneal ulcer or inflammation of the eyeball, excessive tearing can occur. Excessive tearing can also result if aberrant hairs touch the eyes or the tear film. A misplaced hair can act like a wick and draw tears onto the face.   

There can also be a problem with the tear drainage apparatus. For example, the lower eyelids (also called tear wells) may be too shallow, causing tears to spill over. The tear ducts may also become blocked and unable to properly drain away the tears.

If your pet experiences excessive tearing, you should have your veterinarian carefully examine his or her eyes to make sure that the problem is not simply a cosmetic one. If your veterinarian finds no medical basis for the excessive tearing, you can try several of the over-the-counter tear stain-removal products. You may need to try more than one type before getting results. Usually, wiping the face twice daily with a wet face cloth is sufficient.