Watery Eyes in Dogs: Common Questions Answered

What are the different types of watery eyes?

Watery eyes are caused by a myriad of external irritants and internal ailments. Sometimes it can be hard to determine what kind of watery discharge your dog is experiencing. Tears, puss, and mucus can all be excreted through the eyes, and they come in a variety of colors. 

According to Wag, the difference in the type of watery eye is based on the color of the discharge. For example, a clear discharge typically indicates an allergen or small foreign body that has irritated the eye. This mild irritation causes the tear duct to produce extra tears in an attempt to force the foreign substance out of the eye. If your dog is experiencing clear discharge in the eyes, it is something to monitor but certainly nothing to worry about.

Most of the time, clear eye discharge goes away on its own in a matter of hours or days. However, if clear eye discharge persists, as can be the case with canine allergic reactions, it can be treated with canine-specific allergy medication.

Mucus is another form of watery eyes that is a common problem for dogs. Especially in dogs who are active outdoors, mucus can build up in the eyes as the result of extraneous activity. Mucus can sometimes be mistaken for tears, especially when it is clear. However, the most significant factor in identifying mucus is based on consistency. Typically mucus will be a little thicker and slimier than healthy tears. Additionally, mucus will clump and clot, whereas tears will simply dry up.

If your dog begins to secrete mucus that is any other color than clear; it is time to take him in for an immediate exam. Usually, the eyes secrete colored mucus as a direct result of infection. When mucus takes a turn from clear to yellow or green, you are no longer dealing with watery eyes but rather eye discharge.  

Here are some of the symptoms of Watery Eye according to Pet Health Network:

  • Tear stains on the fur
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Eyes red in color
  • Clear discharge 
  • Constantly dewy nose or cheeks
  • Squinting or holding one eye closed
  • Odor and skin irritation underneath the eyes

What is the difference between watery eyes and eye discharge?

To best distinguish between watery eyes and eye discharge, it first needs to be clarified that all eye fluid is considered discharge. Discharge is simply a term used to describe any fluid that is being excreted through the eye. However, when someone is referring to canine eye discharge, it is typically a direct reference to an aggravated infection accompanied by mucus, puss, or even blood. 

What Causes Watery Eyes and Eye Discharge?

Watery eyes can be caused by allergens, foreign bodies, and even sensitivity to a new environment. Here are some of the standard causes of watery eyes according to Web MD for pets and how they are treated:


Epiphora is commonly referred to as excessive tearing and is most often related to things like allergies, foreign substances in the eye, and even abnormal eyelash growth. Epiphora can also be caused by more serious and threatening ailments like tumors and glaucoma. It is important to treat Epiphora quickly as the constant presence of tears around the eyes can stain the fur, cause foul odors, and even cause skin infections. 


Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the inner lining of your dog’s eye most commonly caused by infection. Conjunctivitis affects the tear ducts and surrounding tissues, which become irritated and inflamed. This inflammation triggers a response from your dog’s eye to produce antibodies in the form of mucus or pus as a way to fight against the inflammation.

Other notable causes of watery eyes in dogs include glaucoma, corneal tumors, and dry-eye wherein your dog’s eye is unable to produce enough tears resulting in clear mucus discharge. Dry eye is especially concerning as it is often an indication of a more significant medical issue.

Treatments for watery eyes will ultimately depend on the diagnosis. As there is such a wide variety of causes for watery eyes and eye discharge in dogs, which range drastically in severity, it is crucial that you, as a dog owner, do not wait to get your dog checked. 

A trip to the Vet is never fun, but rolling the dice with watery eyes could lead to problems and complications that are detrimental and painful for your dog. In most cases, even the most severe causes of watery eyes are treatable with the right plan. If you fear your dog is suffering from watery eyes, err on the side of caution and take him in to be examined. 



Flowers, Amy. “Dog Eye Discharge Causes and Treatments.” WebMD, 28 Apr. 2019, pets.webmd.com/dogs/dog-discharge-from-eye#1.

“Watery Eyes in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost.” WagWalking, wagwalking.com/condition/watery-eyes.

“Watery Eyes in Dogs.” Pet Health Network, www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/watery-eyes-dogs.

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