why are my chihuahuas eyes watering

Possibly THE defining feature of a Chihuahua’s face is its extremely large dome-like eyes. And with such prominent peepers, they are generally more susceptible to developing problems that could lead to watery eyes. 


Many concerned owners often wonder “why are my Chihuahua’s eyes watering?” This is a perfectly understandable and worthwhile question to ask.


Certain eye-related problems can lead to severe complications if left unchecked. Therefore, we’ve created a guide to help you better understand the Chihuahua eye problems that can cause watery eyes and what you could do to help. 

the most common eye problems for chihuahuas

Why Are My Chihuahua's Eyes Watering?

So why do Chihuahua's eyes water? There’s actually quite a range of reasons why your Chihuahua might be struggling with watery eyes. Each of these problems can vary significantly in severity but should all be treated as equally important owing to the nature of eye problems: 

Chihuahua eye is watering because of Reflex tearing

This is a perfectly natural response to external stimuli. The most common cause for reflex tears tends to be cold weather, or perhaps a couple of specks of dirt getting into your Chihuahua’s eyes that need to be washed out.

chihuahua eyes tearing

CHIHUAHUA EYE IS WATERING BECAUSE OF Allergies

There are also additional stimuli that can be treated or avoided such as hay fever caused by grass pollen, or perhaps a foreign body such as a gas or spray in the air that can cause irritation. If your Chihuahua’s teary eyes don’t dry up on their own it would be worth investigating what the cause might be. 

Eye Allergies Treatment for Chihuahuas

Allergies can generally be easily treated with antihistamines and the right treatment can save your Chihuahua the discomfort and frustration of constantly having to deal with teary, and potentially itchy, eyes. 

why do chihuahuas eyes water

CHIHUAHUA EYE IS WATERING BECAUSE OF Cherry Eye

Cherry eye with Chihuahuas is characterized by an obvious bubble-like appearance at the corner of the eyes. Chihuahua owners unfamiliar with this condition may think it’s the result of severe swelling of the tear duct, however, it is actually a prolapse of the nictitans. 


This prolapse occurs when the Chihuahua’s third eyelid becomes severely inflamed. This inflammation causes of inflated appearance as a result of excessive swelling. This is not necessarily a painful condition, though it is can be quite itchy or irritating for the dog that has it.

Causes of Cherry Eye in Chihuahua

With cherry eye, Chihuahua eyes are ordinarily genetically predisposed to developing the condition. You would ordinarily see it begin to form before the age of two as the puppy is developing. Cherry eyes in Chihuahuas after this age are less common, but not unheard of. 

Treatment of Cherry Eye in Chihuahua

Cherry eyes in Chihuahuas are usually treated via surgery in order to return the prolapsed gland to its normal position. The procedure itself can vary depending on the severity of the condition, this can depend on several factors such as:

  • How long the Chihuahua has had the prolapse

  • The position of the affected gland

  • The shape of the Chihuahua’s face

Prolapsed gland removal can be performed on Chihuahuas, however, this is only in the most severe cases and is generally not recommended unless absolutely necessary. This is due to the importance of the role the nictitans play in the overall health of the surface of the Chihuahuas' eye.

cherry eye chihuahua

CHIHUAHUA EYE IS WATERING BECAUSE OF Glaucoma

If your Chihuahua’s eyes water a lot and also seem to have a clouded appearance, it could be glaucoma. Glaucoma in Chihuahuas can lead to blindness if left untreated and should be treated as quickly as possible once it has been noticed. 


There are two types of glaucoma in Chihuahuas, known as primary and secondary. Primary glaucoma is an isolated idiopathic disease, whereas secondary glaucoma has identifiable predisposed elements which cause the onset of the condition. Glaucoma in Chihuahuas is no more or less common than with other dog breeds. 

Symptoms of Glaucoma in Chihuahuas

The symptoms of glaucoma in Chihuahuas can be quite varied, but should you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to have your Chihuahua's eyes checked anyway:

  • Constant blinking

  • Eyes watering

  • The eyeball appears to be receding into the head

  • Reddening of the whites of the eyes

  • Pupils not responding to light

  • Clumsiness, bumping into furniture, vision loss

  • Enlarged eyeball (severe/advanced)

  • Degeneration within the eye (severe/advanced)

  • Loss of appetite or significant change in mood (severe/advanced)

  • Constriction of the pupil (secondary)

  • The Iris sticking to the lens or cornea (secondary)

  • Inflammatory debris can be seen in front of the eye (secondary)

Causes of Glaucoma in Chihuahuas

Glaucoma is the result of the optic nerve connecting the brain to the eye becoming damaged. This is typically the result of a build-up of pressure in the eyes caused by fluid gathering at the front of the eye. 

  • Primary glaucoma in Chihuahuas develops with an unknown cause, making it significantly more difficult to treat owing to the inability to find the primary source of the problem. Though there are still ways that the condition can be improved. 

  • Secondary glaucoma in Chihuahuas has a recognizable cause of the damage. This could be related to trauma in the eye, severe inflammation, cataracts, diabetes, or even certain drugs that can be prescribed for other health conditions such as steroids. 

Treatment of Glaucoma in Chihuahuas

Glaucoma can’t be fully reversed, sadly, but it can be treated. To begin with, you will need to lower the pressure that’s causing the condition as quickly as possible, the faster the pressure is reduced, the less damage will be caused to your Chihuahua’s eye in the long term. This can be done using prescription medication. 


The course of treatment that follows depends entirely on the cause, severity, and type of glaucoma your Chihuahua is suffering with. The different treatment options include:

  • Draining the fluid and killing the intraocular fluid cells with cyclocryotherapy.

  • Removal of the affected eye, and closing of the eye cavity (now filled with an orb).

Eye removal is often inevitable in the more severe, long-term cases. Though it may feel extreme, Chihuahuas generally adapt quite easily given time to adjust. Though you may find that they are more comfortable in the familiarity of home moving forward, as the loss of sight will make them significantly more vulnerable. 

chihuahua eye problems

CHIHUAHUA EYE IS WATERING BECAUSE OF Stress or emotional issues

If you see your Chihuahua eyes tearing up in high-stress situations, it is entirely possible they are becoming overwhelmed. These are not tears of sadness or stress, as dogs are incapable of crying real tears, but rather that when a dog is overwhelmed by its environment it is more likely to want to watch everything around it. 


A Chihuahua being such a small dog can become more overwhelmed by busy human environments than other breeds, and so their large eyes may come under strain from trying to see everything at once. 

CHIHUAHUA EYE IS WATERING BECAUSE OF Distichiasis (extra eyelashes)

Distichiasis is a condition with which the eyelashes can grow in abnormal places or directions. This is not overly common with Chihuahuas, however, it has been known to happen. When a dog has Distichiasis the eyelashes can turn inwards and irritate the eye - potentially leading to infection. 

Causes of Distichiasis in Chihuahuas

Distichiasis in Chihuahuas is usually passed down genetically, as opposed to being an odd occurrence. There is no known external factor that contributes to the development of Distichiasis. 

Treatment for Distichiasis in Chihuahuas

Distichiasis in Chihuahuas can be treated with drops a couple of times a day that can lubricate the eyes and help to protect them against the eyelashes. We would not advise attempting to pluck the out eyelashes as sharp tweezers should not be put so close to your Chihuahua's eyes in case they move suddenly. 

In more severe cases, minor surgery can be performed to remove the problematic hair follicles and prevent the eyelashes from growing back in the future. However, this is not guaranteed to be a permanent fix and may need to be repeated for new eyelashes at a later date. 

chihuahua eye problems

The Symptoms of Chihuahua Eye Watering

It depends heavily on the particular ailment that your dog is experiencing when it comes to the symptoms of eye-watering in Chihuahuas. But just to help you out, we’ve listed the most obvious signs that your dog might be struggling with an eye-watering condition. 


Tears can run into the fur and may not be visible with some Chihuahuas - especially long-haired breeds. But there are other signs you can look out for:

chihuahua suffers from Epiphora

This is the term used to describe the excessive eye-watering that Chihuahuas can struggle with when experiencing any of the above health conditions or environmental factors. 

Tear Stains on Your Chihuahua’s Face

Chihuahua tear stains can be recognized by lines running from and surrounding the eyes that are either brown, pink, or red. These areas of fur can become slightly crusted, however, proper grooming can prevent it from causing a problem. 

Chihuahua Rubbing of his Face on Furniture

You might find that the constant tears are making your Chihuahua’s face itch - especially if they are causing the fur surrounding the eyes to become crusty. If this is the case then you may notice the rubbing their face on the furniture or pawing at their face to relieve discomfort. 

Reddening of The chihuahua's Eyes

If you’re unable to tell if your Chihuahua’s eyes are watering, try getting them to focus on something like a toy so that you can see the white of their eyes. If the eyes appear to be bloody then there’s a chance it’s being caused by having watery eyes.

chihuahua eye care

How To Clean a Chihuahua’s Eyes

If your Chihuahua seems to struggle with chronic eye-watering it can cause tear staining, gumming in the corners of the eyes, crusted fur, and general irritation. Before committing to a regular cleaning routine, you should always take your Chihuahua to the vet first to figure out what could be the cause.


Additionally, the best way to help your Chihuahua deal with teary eyes is to try your best to clean the area regularly to reduce discomfort. Here are a few tips to help you ensure you’re cleaning them properly:

1. Get the correct cleaning solution

It’s possible to purchase a canine-specific eyewash designed to reduce tear staining and soothe the eye area. Alternatively, boil the kettle and allow the water to cool fully before continuing. This water should be used within half an hour of cooling down. 

2. Use a gentle cleaning tool

By this we mean don’t use cotton buds as they could poke your Chihuahua in the eye whilst you’re cleaning, and try to avoid using a cloth as it can be quite abrasive or carry bacteria. It’s better to stick with a good old-fashioned cotton bud. 

3. Wipe gently

When cleaning their eye it’s important that you are slow, deliberate, and gentle with your approach. You don’t want to go poking your Chihuahua in the eye. Dampen the cotton bud with your cleaning solution and then carefully clean around the eye with small motions. 

4. Repeat as needed

You might not get all of the stainings at first, but don’t worry. If you need to simply repeat the process a couple more times over the course of the day. 

5. Watch your Chihuahua’s response

There is a chance that having their eyes cleaned could be uncomfortable or stressful for your Chihuahua. Therefore it’s important that you pay close attention to their body language and let them go if they’re looking as though they want you to stop. You can always come back to it later. 

why are my chihuahuas eyes watering

Are There Other Chihuahua Eye Problems?

Absolutely. Listed above were some of the more common or severe conditions that can cause your Chihuahua’s eyes to water. However, there are several other conditions that have eye-watering as a symptom, such as:

Chihuahuas suffer from Entropion

This is a condition with which the eyelids can turn inwards towards the eye. If the eyelids curl inwards, the eyelashes and fur can rub against the eyeball, causing varying degrees of irritation, and potential damage that could lead to infection. This is the result of the eyelid having excess skin, causing it to fold. 

Treatment of Entropion in Chihuahuas 

There is only one real way to fix this problem, and that is for your Chihuahua to have minor surgery to have the excess skin removed from the eyelid. 

CHIHUAHUAS SUFFER FROM Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis in Chihuahuas is characterized by heavily watering eyes and yellow-ish gunge accumulating in the corner of the eye or in the eyelashes. If left untreated it can lead to infection. Additionally, it is a highly uncomfortable, itchy, and contagious problem. 

Causes of Conjunctivitis in Chihuahuas 

Conjunctivitis is usually caused by a foreign bacteria getting into your Chihuahua’s eye. The bacteria triggers a defensive response, causing a minor infection in the eye. However, it can progress quite rapidly. It can also be caused by a virus, or can even be secondary to allergies such as hayfever. 

Treatment of Conjunctivitis in Chihuahuas 

Canine conjunctivitis is easily treatable when caught early. It’s a simple case of medicated eye drops to reduce the infection and allow it to clear up. If it is a more severe infection, your Chihuahua may need additional antibiotics. 

Conjunctivitis in Chihuahuas

CHIHUAHUAS SUFFER FROM Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an erosion through the Chihuahua’s epithelium into the stroma, that’s to say when the corneal support tissue and outer layer of the eye both begin to erode away. It can lead to blindness if left untreated, however, there is treatment available to improve the condition or even heal the eye completely so long as it is seen to immediately. 

Causes of Corneal Ulcer in Chihuahuas 

Corneal ulcers in Chihuahuas can be secondary to other conditions or diseases such as Epithelial Dystrophy or Dry Eye (ironically). They can also be hereditary. However, the main reason for a corneal ulcer is trauma. Chihuahuas are very delicate dogs with very vulnerable eyes and can sadly be affected by corneal ulcers more often than you might think. 

Treatment for Corneal Ulcer in Chihuahuas 

First of all, your Chihuahua would be given a buster collar to prevent them from getting at the eye whilst it’s healing. It’s important to note that some eye ulcers in Chihuahuas can heal of their own accord within 3-7 days, but you must ALWAYS contact your vet the moment you notice one. 


There are several avenues your vet might go down to fix the damage caused by a corneal ulcer:

  • Eye drops - Antibiotic eye drops will work to clear any infection and help the eye to heal itself. 

  • Lubricating drops can help to soothe the eye area and prevent further irritation. 

  • Anti-inflammatory medication - Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce any swelling can help the eye to heal more easily and reduce pain or discomfort. 

  • Antibiotics - In more severe cases antibiotic tablets are prescribed to prevent infection that could lead to further damage. 

  • Surgery - There is a corrective surgery that can be done in some instances. However, depending on the severity of the ulcer, your Chihuahua's eye may need to be removed altogether.

Conclusion

To sum up, there are a wide variety of reasons for watery Chihuahua eyes ranging from cold wind or a bit of dust to an infection or disease that could mean removing the eye completely. The delicacy of the eye cannot be overstated, and neither can the urgency of having a problem checked as soon as it becomes apparent.


If you think your Chihuahua might be struggling from any of the above conditions, you should absolutely seek professional guidance on how to move forward in order to ensure their comfort and health. 

chihuahua eye watering FAQs

Do Chihuahuas’ eyes water a lot?

Not necessarily. A Chihuahua’s eyes are large and somewhat bulbous, meaning they are more exposed to the elements, therefore they can perhaps water more easily than some other breeds. But this doesn’t mean every Chihuahua will have teary eyes at all times. 

Can I use human eye drops for my Chihuahua's eyes?

No. Never use a product meant for human use on your dog without the expressed recommendation from your veterinarian. 

What does a Chihuahua eye infection look like?

An eye infection on a Chihuahua will not only mean that their eye will be watering but it will ordinarily be accompanied by discolored discharge. You’ll also notice that your Chihuahua seems particularly irritated with their eye (perhaps rubbing their face on furniture or squinting constantly). 

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