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Weepy eyes in dogs

Dog on white background


  • Weepy eyes can be caused harmless issues such as wind exposure but also by more serious problems such as wounds, infection, eyelash problems and eye ulcers.
  • Eye problems can get rapidly worse - always contact your vet for an appointment if you notice anything wrong with your dog’s eye(s).

Causes of weepy eyes in dogs


  • Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the lining of the eyelids – many different things can cause it.

Ulcers in the eye (corneal ulcers)

  • Eye ulcers are scratches or grazes on the front of the eye.

Dry eye

  • Dry eye is a condition that prevents tears from being produced which causes irritation and weeping.

Eyelash problems

  • Eyelash problems such as eyelashes growing in the wrong direction and from the wrong place.

Eyelid problems

  • Eyelid problems such as baggy eyelids and eyelids that turn in.

Lumps in and around the eyes

  • Lumps in and around the eyes can cause weeping.

Wind exposure

  • Exposure to the wind can cause eyes to become sore and weepy.

Skin allergies (atopy)

Tear staining

  • Tear staining is very common. Tears overflow and stain the cheeks.

Less common causes

Exposure keratitis

  • Exposure keratitis is common in short nose breeds such as the Pug and Shih Tzu. It’s where the surface of the eye isn’t completely protected by the eyelids and therefore becomes sore and weepy.

Nasolacrimal duct problems

  • Nasolacrimal ducts are tubes that move tears from your dog’s eyes into their nose. Conditions affecting them can cause tears to overflow out of the eye (causing weepy eyes).

Foreign body

  • Foreign bodies (something stuck) in the eye e.g. a grass seed.

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet straight away if you notice anything wrong with your dog’s eyes. There are lots of possible causes for weepy eyes and these range from harmless to serious. Eyes are far too precious to leave to chance!

You know your dog best. If they don’t have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

Published: July 2018

PetWise Pet Health Hub – brought to you thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery 

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst