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Browse our veterinary-reviewed Dog and Cat Illness Guide to learn more about pet health. Always talk to your veterinarian if you have a concern about your pet's symptoms or health.
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Canine Epiphora

Tear Staining

Epiphora is excessive tearing. Extra tearing from time to time is normal, but if it is constant, you should visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. All that moisture can cause pain, infection, and staining (tears have no color, but they dry into a red, brown, or black crust, which will stain your dog's hair and face).

The staining itself is not a medical problem; it just does not look nice.

Eventually, it may cause vision loss. For some breeds, epiphora is not harmful.


1) Irritation to the eye: The eye's normal response to irritation is to produce extra tears to flush it away. An overproduction of tears overwhelms the drainage system.

Examples of irritants (can be a foreign object or an irritation in the eye):

2) Abnormal tear drainage: In a healthy eye, tears flow through the puncta (a tear duct located in the inner corner of the eye near the nose) that drains the tears into its nose and throat. Problems along this route can cause epiphora.

3) Overactive tear glands (least common)


If your dog is showing any of these signs, this is an emergency and you should visit your veterinary clinic right away. It is especially important if the signs occur suddenly.


Your veterinarian may perform some tests to rule out other diseases. A corneal stain, (a fluorescent dye placed in the eye), can test for ulcers. Your veterinarian may also test your dog's eye pressure to see if it has glaucoma.

Your veterinarian will perform the following procedures to test for epiphora:



Most of the time, you will not be aware of your dog's condition until you start to see signs of epiphora, so there is no way to prevent it.

To prevent a relapse, wash and dry around their eyes daily using lukewarm water and a soft cloth.


There is a good prognosis for dogs that get quick medical attention and treatment. Delaying treatment may lead to blindness.

Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM 

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