Epiphora in Dogs and Cats - Causes and Natural Treatments

Causes & natural treatments for Epiphora in dog or cats, also known as "watering eyes".

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    1. What is Epiphora?
    2. Symptoms of Epiphora
    3. Causes of Epiphora
    4. Treatments for Epiphora
    5. Herbal Remedies for Epiphora

    What is Epiphora

    Epiphora, commonly known as “watering eye”, is a condition resulting in an overflow of tears onto the face due to improper drainage of the tear ducts.  It has a variety of causes and occurs in both people and pets. It is not typically a serious condition, although some pets find the constant drainage irritating.

    Symptoms of Epiphora 

    Staining on the face and tearing of the eyes are the most prominent signs of epiphora. Other symptoms may include inflammation, redness, discharge and squinting. Sometimes there is loose or sagging skin around the eyes.

    Causes of Epiphora

    Epiphora can be a genetic condition in some pet breeds caused by eye shape or a condition called distichiasis, where there are two rows of eyelashes instead of one. In some cat and dog breeds, the upper or lower eyelids turn inwards leading to watery eyes. Rarely, epiphora may be caused by tumors on the eyelids. Pet breeds with more flat-faced features, like pugs or Persian cats, are more prone to chronic epiphora.

    Epiphora may also be caused by allergic rhinitis or sinusitis that causes swelling near the tear duct. Conjunctivitis, caused by bacterial infection, facial and eye injuries can also cause epiphora. Pets that suddenly develop this condition should be treated by a veterinarian.

    Treatments for Epiphora

    Veterinarians will perform a thorough exam that takes into account background history and symptoms to determine the cause of epiphora. Different tests may be used to check for injury to the sinus area and a culture of the eye material may be taken for analysis. If the eye appears inflamed, the doctor may use a dye in the animal's eye to look for abrasions. 

    Once the cause is established, a method of treatment will be discussed. In the case of conjunctivitis or other infections, medications may be prescribed. If the cause is an eyelid abnormality or sinus obstruction, corrective surgery may be an option. 

    Herbal Remedies for Epiphora

    In many cases, medical treatment is unnecessary and simple home or herbal remedies can be used to alleviate the symptoms and promote good eye health. Natural teas can be made from chamomile, rosemary, or calendula and used as an eye wash to soothe irritation. Flush the eye gently or wipe the eye with a clean cloth dipped in the tea. If you prefer eyedrops, Eye-Heal drops contain a blend of herbs to naturally soothe, cleanse, and protect the eyes. They are safe and effective for both dogs and cats. 

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