7 Reasons Why Do Chihuahuas Eyes Water?

Why Do Chihuahuas Eyes Water? Photo of a Chihuahua with watery eyes.

Does it seem as though your Chihuahua always has runny and teary eyes? Why do Chihuahuas eyes water? What’s up with that? A lot of things, it turns out. Let’s take a look.

Chihuahuas are prone to watery eyes, and you can also observe their eyes inflamed, red, and squinting. The main reasons are reflex tearing, a condition called Epiphora, Cherry Eye, Glaucoma, stress or emotional issues, or health issues such as injuries and conditions.

Since Chihuahuas have large eyes, it’s common for them to have congenital eye health issues. Understanding what to worry about will help you navigate any potential eye issues as smoothly as possible!

Reasons why Chihuahuas cry tears

That’s all well and good, perhaps, but what do you need to know about each particular kind of tearing? How do you tell the difference between them all to understand when you need to get something checked out carefully? It’s all in the details below for each reason introduced above:

  1. Reflex tearing
  2. Epiphora
  3. Cherry Eye
  4. Glaucoma
  5. Stress or emotional issues
  6. Injuries or health conditions
  7. Congenital health issues

1. Reflex tearing

This is as natural as it sounds. It is tearing that the eye does to keep itself clean and lubricated. If your Chihuahua were playing outside or sniffing around or just generally moving around their environment, they would have come into some sort of contact with dust, fur, and more.

All of those things pose a threat to their eyes, so the eyes will naturally secrete a thin layer of secretion (aka tears) to keep their eyes clean from dust, pollen, eyelashes, foot particles, and more. As more is produced, they’ll tear up, and some may have tears running down their faces. 

There won’t be any redness or picking at their eyes with this kind of tearing. Your dog won’t even notice it’s happening! This is as natural as our eyes tearing up when it’s cold or windy. It’s natural, healthy, and nothing to worry about!

2. Epiphora

This general health condition is basically a fancy term for “watery eyes.” It’s common in dogs, and Chihuahuas are especially prone to it since they have large eyes. It just means that they’ll be prone to tearing and eye wateriness. It can be mild to severe. It is harmless and is a good thing when you think about its function.

You’ll know your Chihuahua has this if you notice its very common symptoms (more detail on that below). You can talk to your breeder or vet if you are unsure, but this is a mild health condition and is nothing to worry about. Maintenance is the most important thing!

3. Cherry Eye

A common health condition in those with short snouts or flat faces, Cherry Eye, happens when the third eyelid gets irritated and swells up. This will cause a red bump in the inside or outside corner of the eye. It also can make the eye itself look red. There is often tearing from this condition.

Most vets will recommend a prescription to keep the area clean as it heals. Once the third eyelid heals itself, the swelling will go down, and you won’t notice the tearing as much. 

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4. Glaucoma

This is an age-related issue for most Chihuahuas, where their eyes will tear up as the pressure in the eye builds up. This will cause excess watering and tearing. Your vet will want to monitor this since it can lead to a medical emergency if the swelling gets too bad. The tearing from this should be clear, but it can be slightly milky, depending.

5. Stress or emotional issues

Some experts will say that Chihuahuas are incapable of tearing when they get sad or stressed, but it is technically possible. It’s just very uncommon since dogs are physically incapable of crying tears for emotional reasons. 

When dogs get really stressed or emotional, they can tear up. This is not an emotional crying like humans, but a physiological response to stress that causes a higher heart rate and, as a result, more tearing. 

6. Injuries or health conditions

Whenever your dog’s eye gets traumatized, there will be more tearing in that area. This is also common if there are injuries to the face in general! It could be something mild like a scratch or a bee sting. It could be more severe, like a scratch to the cornea or an eye injury itself that needs surgery or patching while it heals. 

If you notice any other signs of injury (lack of appetite, picking at the eye area, or infections). In that case, it’s essential to have a vet look at it quickly to ensure that their eye health is not in jeopardy long-term!

Health conditions, including brain and nerve injuries, can also show symptoms such as watering in the eyes. A trip to the vet is a good idea any time you notice our dog’s eyes watering unnecessarily, even if it’s just to rule something more serious out!

7. Congenital health issues

Some dogs are just known for congenital eye issues. While most breeders will alert you to this beforehand so that you know the risks, not all of them will. And, not all of them can be traced or detected.

Whether it’s an issue with their eyes or their eyelids, they will be more likely to have watering in their eyes since their eyes are naturally a bit weaker than a dog who doesn’t have those issues. 

If your Chihuahua has congenital eye conditions, they are also more likely to have health issues later on with their eyes, so your vet’s input will be critical!

Photo closeup of a Chihuahua's watery eyes.

Do Chihuahuas have problems with their eyes?

Chihuahuas are known for having congenital eye issues and injuries or infections in or around their eyes. This is because their eyes take up a lot of space in their head, so there is more potential for complications.

As any responsible breeder will tell you, Chihuahuas are naturally more prone to eye issues, so you’ll need to get comfortable with checking out those globe-like, adorable eyes! More detail on proper care is coming below.

Symptoms of watering eyes on Chihuahuas

We mentioned Epiphora above, which is excessive eye-watering. While it impacts all dogs, Chihuahuas and other toy dogs can be prone to this. You can watch for symptoms such as:

  • Eye boogers
  • Discoloration in the fur around the eye area
  • A slight smell to their discolored fur
  • Picking at their eyes

These symptoms show that your dog is dealing with what is most likely Epiphora. This is a condition that your vet can diagnose, and it’s considered relatively normal. They’ll ask you about all of these symptoms, so be prepared to answer their questions about frequency, colors of eye boogers, etc.

Why do Chihuahuas’ eyes turn red?

If your Chihuahua has a red and irritated eye and it is paired with watering. In that case, it’s understandable if you’re feeling alarmed! There are four main reasons for it, in order of mild to potentially serious:

  • Environmental irritation (ex: dust, an eyelash)
  • Dry eye (ex: being out in the wind or the cold)
  • Cherry Eye
  • Conjunctivitis (aka Pink Eye)

Both Cherry Eye and Pink Eye are treated with medicated ointments or oral pills, depending on your vet’s preference. This will help the condition clear up as effectively as possible with as few complications. It doesn’t take much for the eye area to get infected or irritated, meaning that recovery will take longer as well.

How to diagnose a Chihuahua’s watering eyes?

This depends mainly on what you’re looking for, exactly. As mentioned, general eye-watering is normal and not a reason for concern. The main thing to look for when hunting specifically for potential complications to a watery eye is evidence of redness or a bad smell that could mean an infection.

Another thing to help you diagnose a potential issue is if your dog is uncomfortable. If you go to get near their face, they may turn away. Or, they could pick at their eye area. If you notice your dog seems to be bothered by their eye, a trip to the vet is definitely a good idea!

How to stop Chihuahuas from having watering eyes

If you want to stop this natural reflex, it will come down to understanding what is changeable and what isn’t. The reflex watering isn’t something that can — or should — be stopped. If you find a product that supposedly does that, it’s not only a scam but potentially dangerous! The best you can hope for is to minimize eye-watering for reasons other than the typical reflex watering.

Cleanliness is going to be necessary. Make sure that you take your Chihuahua to be professionally bathed as often as recommended. You can also groom them at home if they prefer it. Pay careful attention to their face and eyes to help remove oils, loosen debris, and more. This will help keep that sensitive eye area safe. Just make sure to get vet-approved products!

The other prime focus area is to use eye wipes every day or several times a week. These are specially formulated moistened wipes that you can use to help keep their eye and nose area clean. Use them after they come in from playing outside, or you notice their eyes starting to water more than usual. These are safe for that sensitive area and will help freshen up their fur to prevent discoloration!

In general

Your Chihuahua’s eyes could be watering for any number of reasons. There is reflex tearing and also a common condition called Epiphora.

Other reasons for watering could include Cherry Eye, Glaucoma, an injury or infection to the eye or eye area, and a physical response to excessive emotion.

Some are normal, and some can be concerning. Understanding the potential red flags of an underlying condition will help you keep your Chihuahua’s health at the forefront!

More prone to eye-watering than many other dog breeds, understanding the difference between natural and unnatural eye-watering will help you protect your Chihuahua’s health in the short term and long term.

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