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Healthy teeth: clean choppers will keep your pet chipper

photo of a hand brushing dog’s tooth for dental care | Whitworth Animal ClinicLike their humans, pets need regular dental examinations and teeth cleanings. Yearly pet exams at Whitworth Animal Clinic include a thorough inspection of teeth and gums because Dr. Whitworth knows good dental health is vitally important to the overall well-being of our canine and feline friends.

We often neglect our pet’s teeth. The most common symptom of a pet in need of dental care is bad breath, which is mostly ignored by pet owners. From there the symptoms only worsen when chewing becomes painful and teeth are loose or gone. By that time it is too late to save teeth and cleaning is not beneficial. Unfortunately, diseases of the mouth can affect other parts of the pet’s body; the kidney, liver, and heart are also weakened. When these organs are damaged, the pet’s life span is shortened.

If you have a puppy or kitten, make sure vet visits include a discussion about your pet’s teeth and your role in keeping them healthy. Many pet breeds are particularly prone to dental problems. According to the I Love Dogs website, the top 10 dog breeds prone to dental disease are

  • Pugs
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Sheltie
  • Chihuahua
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Greyhound
  • Dachshund
  • Maltese
  • Chinese Crested
  • Poodle


Ask Dr. Whitworth about products that may help your dog maintain better dental health in between professional cleanings.

Periodontal disease is the most common condition that shows up in adult dogs and cats, and it can be prevented. Even at 3 years, pets show signs of periodontal disease, which progresses as they age. It damages the gums and tissue around the teeth and throughout the mouth.

Periodontal issues begin when bacteria and food particles form plaque, a soft, sticky, whitish mat-like film attached to tooth surfaces. Within days, plaque and saliva combine to form tartar, a hard, crusty deposit on the teeth, consisting of food, cellular debris, and mineral salts. Tartar looks like a brownish-gold buildup on the teeth at the gum line. Then the bacteria works its way under the gums and causes inflammation. This condition is known as gingivitis. Redness or bleeding along the gum line may indicate gingivitis. From there the disease progresses and the bacteria under the gums breaks down the tissue around the teeth. Eventually periodontitis sets in and the pet’s teeth become loose and fall out. Together, gingivitis and periodontitis are known as periodontal disease. Tooth loss can be painful for the pet and unhealthy since it interferes with eating.

Periodontal disease starts when bacteria combine with food particles to form plaque on the teeth. Within days, minerals in the saliva bond with the plaque to form tartar, a hard substance that adheres to the teeth. The bacteria work their way under the gums and cause gingivitis — inflammation of the gums. Once under the gums, bacteria destroys the supporting tissue around the tooth, leading to tooth loss. This condition is known as periodontitis. Gingivitis and periodontitis make up the changes that are referred to as periodontal disease. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel in the bloodstream to infect the heart, kidneys, and liver. This can be a real health hazard, especially for senior pets.

Doctor Whitworth recommends pet owners adopt a dental-care routine at home to keep plaque at bay between professional cleanings. You can talk with Dr. Whitworth or any of the members of his team about dental hygiene products on the market. Your pet’s teeth will definitely benefit from regular brushing. There are all types of brushes and even flavored pastes on the market to make this chore a little more pleasant for you and your pet. Treats that help with dental hygiene abound. Discuss which ones are best for your pet when you visit Whitworth Animal Clinic.

There is no substitute for a professional dental cleaning, however. It’s the only way to remove tartar from your pet’s teeth and gum tissue. Gingivitis is reversible, but periodontal disease is not. Regular professional cleanings and home care will slow the progress of the disease.

To conduct a cleaning, Dr. Whitworth places your pet under general anesthesia. Your pet remains pain-free during the procedure while the vet examines his/her mouth and removes all the plaque and tarter from the teeth and under the gums. The benefits of teeth cleaning far outweigh any risks posed by anesthesia.

A thorough dental cleaning allows the vet to inspect, treat, and chart important information about your pet’s dental health. Besides removing plaque and tartar, the procedure includes

  • Polishing the teeth to smooth enamel scratches that may attract bacteria
  • X-rays to evaluate problems below the gum line
  • Application of fluoride or a dental sealer
  • Removing or repairing fractured or infected teeth
  • Dental charting for monitoring purposes
  • Inspection of the lips, tongue, and entire mouth for growths, wounds, or other problems


If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior or behaviors that include drooling, pawing at the mouth, or other discomfort, it’s time to schedule a visit with Dr. Whitworth. There are many reasons to be vigilant about your pet’s dental health. Like humans, pets need dental care to sustain good health and vitality.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

Cat scan: check your cat’s eyes to avoid problems

Keep checking

up close photo of cat with larger green eyes | Whitworth Animal ClinicIt’s second nature for most cat owners to inspect and scrutinize their pet’s physical condition while grooming or snuggling. It’s always a good idea to do a routine home exam to make sure there’s nothing amiss; follow these tips to make sure your kitty is in tip-top shape.

The eyes can be a window into your pet’s overall health, so check them frequently. Problems with eyes can indicate everything from a virus to a head injury.

The third eyelid: nature’s way of protecting

First-time cat owners may not be aware that felines have a third eyelid which serves as a protection for the eye. The third eyelid is normally hidden in the corner of the eye near the nose. The healthy third eyelid is white to light pink. It is quite sophisticated and even has cartilage and a tear-producing gland. Normally, the third eyelid is not visible. However, if the cat senses danger, it uses a muscle to pull the eyeball back a bit, and the third eyelid slips out to protect the eye. If you would like to know more about the third eyelid, ask Dr. Whitworth to show it to you and explain its functions at your pet’s next check-up.

Visible third eyelid

If the third eyelid is exposed in one of your cat’s eyes, it’s possible there’s an injury. Eye injuries are painful and can lead to infection, so it’s best to visit to Dr. Whitworth at Whitworth Animal Clinic to make sure the problem does not escalate. If your kitty has had dental or ear surgery, one of the third eyelids might become visible if the nerve control center of the third eyelid was disturbed during surgery. Call for a post-surgery check-up if you are concerned.

Both third eyelids visible

There are a variety of reasons both third eyelids could become visible. Schedule an appointment and let the experts at Whitworth Animal get to the root cause of the issue and suggest treatment.

Routine home checkups

Normally, cats’ eyes are clear and shiny. The area around the eyeball should be white and both pupils the same size. The lining of the eyelids should be perfectly pink—not red or white. Take some time each day to do a routine home checkup and observe your kitty. If he rubs his eyes, squints, or otherwise demonstrates discomfort, make an appointment to get professional diagnosis and treatment.

Here is a list of symptoms to look for when examining your cat’s eyes:

  • Discharge
  • Watering/tear-stained fur
  • Red or white eyelid linings/change in eye color
  • Crusty gunk in the corners of the eye
  • Closed eye(s)
  • Cloudiness
  • Visible third eyelid
  • Pupils unequal in size


Be aware that Persians and some other cat breeds are prone to eye discharge. Use a dampened cotton ball to wipe away from the corner of the eye to clean debris and be sure to use a clean cotton ball for each eye. This may need to be done daily to make sure the crust does not harden and block tear ducts. Clip long, stray hairs out of the cat’s eyes to avoid problems. If the discharge looks abnormal, consult Dr. Whitworth.

Cats can be illusive and independent, so cat owners must be vigilant:

  • Conduct home-health examinations on a regular basis to make sure your cat’s eyes are clear and bright.
  • Remember to schedule regular annual physical exams for young felines and bi-annual visits for mature cats at Whitworth Animal Clinic.


©2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

Hiking with your dog: precautions you must take

photo of couple crossing a creek with their dogDale Evans and Roy Rogers said it best, “Some trails are happy ones, Others are blue”. In order to make sure all your trails are happy, make sure to get prepared for hiking with your dog.

Fitness first

Just like humans, puppies and adult dogs need training to prepare for day hikes. Start with short walks to begin conditioning and toughen the paw pads. Add additional mileage to increase endurance.

  • Don’t take puppies hiking until they have had all their shots.
  • Check with Whitworth about your pup’s readiness for hiking.


During the conditioning period, do some research and purchase special equipment needed for hiking with your dog.

Gear up

Pack harnesses are available for all dog sizes. Some harnesses have handy built-in water reservoirs and others have handles to help lift the dog or guide him through rough terrain.

  • The loaded pack should not total more than 1/3 of your dog’s weight.
  • The pack should fit snugly between the nape of his neck and hip bones.
  • Make sure the harness is snug enough to prevent escape but loose enough to avoid chafing. Experts recommend sliding two fingers under the straps to ensure correct fit.
  • Before the first hike, acclimate your pet to the harness/pack. Let him wear it around the house and on walks to get used to it.

Hiking Hydration

  • Carry a collapsible water bowl. Dogs, like humans, need hydration—8 oz. of water every hour.
  • Dogs can get giardia, a troubling intestinal parasite, from contaminated water in streams and other outdoor water sources. You and your pet should be drinking fresh, clean, treated water.

Snacks on the go

Buy protein-packed snacks for the pet on-the-go.

First aid for your pet

  • Paw pads can get cut or injured while hiking. Take a sock and some duct tape to create a protective bootie in case that happens.
  • Make sure your pet is protected against ticks. Check carefully after hiking and remove ticks if you find them.

Plan the first hike carefully.

Search by state for great dog-hiking adventures.

  • Find an easy, paw-friendly path for the first hike.
  • Look for shady, leaf-padded paths.
  • Stay away from trails shared with horses or motorbikes.
  • Avoid steep, rocky trails.

Rules of the Road

  • Keep pets leashed around other hikers, bikers, and horses.
  • Hikers with dogs should yield the trail to hikers without dogs.
  • Bring bags for dog waste, double bag, and make sure it gets in a trash can at the end of your hike

Aprés Hike

Feed your canine friend his usual evening serving of food and an additional 30% to make up any calorie deficit for the day.

Make sure to give your pet lots of fresh water and love.

Enjoy hiking with your pet, and don’t forget the immortal words of Dale Evans and Roy Rogers:

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

Good or Bad? Fleas on dogs and cats

photo of 3 dogs scratching for fleas | Whitworth Animal ClinicProtect your pet to avoid suffering

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the answer to this question. Fleas are bad and they are everywhere. In fact, worldwide there are over 2,000 species of fleas. North America is home to more than 300 varieties of the pests. It’s important to treat your pets and be vigilant about keeping their surroundings, the yard and house, protected from infestations.

Tiny vampires

Fleas are small, wingless insects that have siphon-like mouthparts. They thrive on blood. Each type of flea has a preferred host, so there are dog flea and cat flea species. In other words, a flea is not a flea except when it comes to one goal: blood sucking. Fleas generally don’t feed on humans, but they will if there is no other host.

Egg-laying machines

The female lays eggs 24-36 hours after her first blood meal. A flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, which is equal to its body weight. It can lay this many eggs because fleas suck up 15 times their body weight in blood daily. For up to 3 months, fleas are egg-laying machines. As your pet walks around the house and yard, the eggs are dispersed everywhere. That is a recipe for a flea infestation of epic proportions.

Pain and suffering

When fleas attack your pet, it scratches, bites and licks the irritated area. A constant barrage of the flea bite-itching/scratching/biting cycle can lead to scabs and scarring. Some dogs are allergic to flea bites. Even one bite can cause swelling and itching. Doctors call this “allergy dermatitis” or “parasitic dermatitis.” All this irritation can cause infection and allow harmful bacteria to invade.

Fleas Cause Tapeworms

Another reason to be diligent about flea protection is the tapeworm. Fleas are the intermediate hosts for tapeworms. If your pet is grooming itself or biting at fleas, it could ingest a flea. Not all fleas become tapeworms, but it only takes one to get a tapeworm infestation started. Getting a handle on tapeworms in dogs and cats includes flea control and deworming medication. Regular visits to Dr. Whitworth will include testing, diagnosis, and treatment for worms of all kinds.

Fleas can, literally, suck the life out of a pet

A heavy infestation of fleas can literally suck the life out of your pet. Anemia, which can be dangerous, results when the flea attack causes a dangerous drop in the pet’s red blood count. The condition can be treated with blood transfusions. It’s critical to keep fleas off pets with a regular flea control program.

Fleas carry germs

Hugging a flea-ridden pet is not a good idea. Fleas carry germs and lots of fleas carry lots of germs. Considering that fleas and ticks can also transmit diseases to humans, removing fleas and keeping your dog or cat comfortable and flea free is a good goal for many reasons.

Remember the yard

Exterminators provide flea treatments for the yard. Fleas love the South because of its high humidity. They thrive in shady areas. Treating the yard will help break the life cycle of pesky fleas.

Regular vet visits

If you think your pet is suffering from a flea-bite allergy, tapeworms, or an infestation of fleas, make an appointment at the Whitworth Animal Clinic today. Learn what precautions you can take to keep fleas at bay.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

Best Practices for Keeping Your Aging Pet Healthy

Senior citizen at age 6 or 7—time flies

photo of a preson shaking the paw of an older dogIt comes as a shock to some pet owners that although small dogs generally live longer, they are considered geriatric at the age of 7; and larger dogs have shorter life spans and are considered senior citizens at age 6. So if you have a geriatric canine, listen up, your dog’s health needs have changed. Work with your vet at Whitworth Animal Clinic and follow these Best Practices to make sure your pet remains happy and healthy in his golden years.

Regular visits to the vet.

Healthy young dogs visit the vet one time per year. Consider taking your senior canine for bi-annual vet visits. The physical exam could reveal a problem which, if treated early, could save your pet from suffering.

Just as their human counterparts, dogs develop more health issues as they age:

  • Arthritis
  • Heart, kidney, and liver disease
  • Dental problems
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Bi-annual vet visit will give you a chance to discuss changes in your dog’s habits:

  • Food/water consumption
  • Changes in urinary and bowel habits
  • Irritability
  • Hearing, vision, or sleep
  • Mobility

Consider changing your dog’s diet:

  • Older dogs are less active so they gain weight
  • Some canine health conditions can be managed through diet
  • Vitamin and nutrient requirements change


There are foods on the market that target the special needs of senior pets. It’s best to consult with Dr. Whitworth about the type of food that will meet your pet’s nutrition requirements.

Modify your pet’s environment and routine to maintain good mental and physical health, and mobility:

  • Make sure your dog exercises regularly
  • Interact with your pet to keep his mind active. Keep him social and provide treats to encourage active chewing
  • Provide a comfortable bed with extra padding. Move the bed as needed to help the dog avoid stairs
  • Allow your pet to stay indoors. Remember, slippery wood floors are dangerous as pets age
  • Buy steps or a ramp to help your dog get to a favorite resting spot
  • Help your canine friend get in and out of the car

So true

Your pet has been a good friend. Dan Gemeinhart, author of The Honest Truth says, “Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us. And make our lives a little brighter. And they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.”

Take good care of your canine friend so he will live to love [YOU] another day.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

Lapping Lepto? Dog Owner–Be Vigilant

A Growing Concern

photo of boy walking his dog through the big puddle | Whitworth Animal ClinicLeptospirosis, a serious bacterial disease which can affect dogs, other animals, and humans, is on the rise. Leptospirosis is common where temperatures are mild and where there are rainy seasons. In the U.S., the disease is caused by one of eight strains of the bacteria of the leptospira genus.

The bacteria must have water to live; it can survive in damp soil, stagnant water or mud, especially in warm climates. The bad bacteria can typically be found in water where infected wildlife, e.g., raccoons, skunks, opossums, rats, deer urinate. Pets and livestock can also spread the disease through shared water sources.

Symptoms

Not every animal exposed to leptospira becomes violently ill; sometimes, it has no effect and other times only a mild effect. In rare cases where the disease becomes life-threatening, antibiotics and intervenous treatments are prescribed. In the acute stage, there can be damage to the kidneys and liver. The symptoms of the disease—vomiting, diarrhea, and sluggishness—are deceptive because they could indicate a variety of illnesses, so diagnosis can be tricky.

Prevention in Pets

Preventing the disease in domestic pets requires awareness and vigilance on the part of the pet owner. Keep your pet away from water that could possibly be infected:

  • Stagnant puddles or ponds
  • Flood water
  • Muddy dog parks
  • Communal bowls at the dog park
  • Backyard water bowl—clean it regularly; wildlife could be using it
  • Pet owners should be aware that the vaccine doesn’t protect against all variations of the bacteria.

Human Vulnerability

In humans, leptospirosis can be serious. Keeping this disease at bay is a public health issue because leptospirosis can be spread to humans through contact with an infected pet’s urine or bodily fluids. In parts of the world where flooding is common, humans can become infected by exposing an open wound to infected flood water.

Preventing Leptospirosis in Humans

Diseases that can be transmitted from animals to human are called zoonotic diseases. It’s uncommon for a human to contact a disease from a pet, but it can happen. To protect yourself and your family, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Avoid close contact with animal excretions
  • Wash your hands if you come into contact w/feces
  • Keep rodent population down
  • Don’t leave pet food outside which could attract infected wildlife
  • Have your vet examine and vaccinate your pet

Other Resources

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information on leptospirosis and guidelines for preventing occurrence of the disease in pets.

Ask Dr. Whitworth

Dr. Whitworth stays current on best practices for canine vaccinations. When it comes to leptospirosis and other zoonotic diseases, it’s important to keep your pet’s shot record up-to-date because it can also protect you.

Schedule an appointment today to discuss concerns about your pet or to update immunizations.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

Doggy Diets: Three Keys to Health and “Hoppiness”

Chart of toxic foods for dogs | Whitworth Animal ClinicWhile there have been scares related to the ingredients and quality of commercial dog food, most experts agree that it is nutritionally balanced and promotes good canine health. Many dog owners subscribe to the “No People Food” rule and serve only commercially prepared food to their pet. There are those who feed only homemade mixes of vegetables, red meat, grain, fish, and poultry. Either way, the pet’s health needs can be met.

However, most people lead busy lives, so it’s hard to budget time to cook for the family—let alone the family pet. For those folks, it’s fine to meet somewhere in the middle with a blend of “people food” and commercial food. The key is to remember what’s okay and even beneficial and what’s detrimental.

#1 What you should NOT put in your dog’s tummy:

  • Chocolate especially dark *Keep chocolate out of reach from your dog.
  • Alcohol *Poisonous for dogs and cats
  • Raw Eggs
  • Cinnamon
  • Artificial sweeteners, sugar
  • Garlic, onions, leeks, chives
  • Ice Cream
  • Almonds, Macadamia nuts
  • Fat & skin *can cause painful pancreatitis
  • Any of these can cause diarrhea & vomiting and worse. Call Dr. Whitworth or the Pet Poison Helpline if your pet is in distress or if you would like to know more about toxins that may harm your pet.

#2 These food are safe and beneficial

  • Popcorn-unbuttered, unsalted
  • Corn, no cob
  • Cooked fish-especially salmon & sardines maximum 2X per week
  • Yogurt-plain
  • Honey
  • Peanuts, cashews, coconut
  • Rice


These foods can be served in small quantities:

  • Cheese
  • Bread-plain
  • Tuna

#3 Veggies cooked plainly and served in the right portions can be good treats:

  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Asparagus, broccoli, Brussel sprouts
  • Carrots, cauliflower, cucumber
  • Edamame, green beans, peas
  • Remember, dogs are not vegetarians; low protein diets can cause severe health problems for canines.


Talk to your Vet before feeding raw meat:

  • Before you feed your dog raw meat, check with your veterinarian to discuss the pros and cons.


The internet contains some good information about feeding your dog a proper diet. There are also some well-researched books out there. Feed Your Best Friend Better and Pitcairns Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs are Cats are two respected resources. Providing a healthy diet is the key to maintaining your pet’s health and vitality. Dr. Whitworth and his staff can answer all your questions about your pet’s dietary needs.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

The Dangers of Rawhide Chew Toys

photo of a Golden Retriever with a rawhide bone in his mouthTreats and chew toys are popular items at big box retailers and pet stores. Since most pet owners consider their furry friends members of the family, treats are part of the weekly grocery list. If Fido or Fluffy is a puppy, the list of “chewies” can be endless. After all, it’s important to give the little darlings an alternative to family footwear.

Rawhide bones are cheap and available in all sizes. Dogs like them; and, in most cases, they last a while. However, rawhide chew toys can be a choking hazard or create intestinal blockages in dogs. There are also some other risks folks should take into consideration before purchasing rawhide products for their canine friends.

In order to produce rawhide bones, the inner layer of cow or horse hide is cleaned using strong chemicals then washed repeatedly with hydrogen peroxide before being pressed into its shape. Rawhide is not classified as food, so there aren’t any regulations governing its manufacture.

Chemicals aside, rawhide can be contaminated with salmonella since it is made from animal skins. Both the pet and owner could be at risk. There have been recalls of contaminated rawhide in the past.

The internet contains many tragic tales of dogs choking on rawhide. As the dog chews, the product becomes stretched and soft. It eventually breaks off in pieces which the dog swallows. Sometimes those chunks cause the dog to choke and gasp for air. There are even cases of the esophagus being torn. If you choose to give your dog rawhide, be sure to supervise his chewing and take the product away when it gets to the point of tearing. This will help you avoid an emergency trip to the vet or other dire consequences for your pet.

If Fido manages to swallow a chunk of rawhide, it may lodge there and swell causing gastric problems or vomiting. If the dog doesn’t pass the rawhide, it could become a blockage which would require surgery.

There are alternatives to rawhide chew products. Bully sticks are digestible but can have an odor and may have bacteria issues. Antlers from elk or deer won’t break apart and they don’t smell. They’re great for doggie dental hygiene.

Kongs are an example of toys made of indestructible rubber. The dog chews and chews hoping to be rewarded with a tantalizing treat enclosed in the toy.   Yak/Himalayan chews are really special—no bacteria or other hazards. The all-natural treats made of yak milk using Nepali methods.

Before you put rawhide on your grocery list, speak with Dr. Whitworth or a member of his staff and do some research. Your pet will thank you for your efforts.

The information in this article is not meant to take the place of medical advice. Dr. Whitworth and his staff want your pet to remain healthy and happy. If you have any questions pertaining to your pet’s wellbeing, please contact our office to make an appointment today.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

Do yourself a favor and buy your dog a harness

photo of a Jack Russell terrier wearing dog harness next at water background | Whitworth Animal ClinicWalking the dog can make you feel like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz—whirling and twirling in all directions with arms going every which way. Stop being the Scarecrow and get your hound a harness to make walking more pleasant and safe.

The old-fashioned collar and leash can lead to some unsafe conditions for walking. If your dog is big and strong or smaller and strong, a harness can give you better ability to guide and control him. Harnesses take the pressure off the dog’s neck and spread it out to the stronger areas of the torso. Trachea injuries can occur with a traditional leash and collar. A harness will help avoid injury to your pet and prevent him from escaping.

When purchasing a harness, make sure to take the dog with you to the pet store. If purchasing online, be sure to measure carefully. There are many types of harnesses and the fit and fabric are important. Look for a padded, adjustable model that will be easy to put on and take off. Make sure the construction and fabric are durable. Ideally the harness you select should be compatible with car seat belts to prevent danger or injury to your pet while in the vehicle. Everyone should be strapped in for safety.

A small squirrel, bird, or cat can make a dog go wild. Harnessing your dog can prevent twisting and tangling you and your pet in the leash. With a leash attached to a harness, it’s a lot easier to control excitement and avoid harm to you and your dog. Since the harness is more comfortable than the collar, the dog is more relaxed and will be easier to train.

After the walk, it’s best to remove the harness so it does not irritate the dog’s skin or rub the fur. When it’s time to walk again, your dog will be happy to see the harness and go outside for a new adventure.

Feel free to ask the staff at Whitworth Animal Clinic any questions you may have about purchasing and using a harness with your dog.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.

Watery Eyes in Dogs Could be a Sign of Dry Eyes

photo of veterinarian looking at the eyes of little dog | Whitworth Animal ClinicWatery eyes or epiphora is a condition that causes an overflow of tears. Sometimes the cause may be due to the shape of the eyes that is seen in several breeds. As well, the overproduction of tears can be caused by other factors such entropion (eyelids turning in) or distichiasis (eyelashes turning in). Breeds that are often affected by entropion are mastiffs, pugs, chow chows, poodles, Chinese shar peis and Labrador retrievers. Breeds that typically get distichiasis include cocker spaniels, dachshunds, Pekingese, miniature poodles, bulldogs, Lhasa apsos, shih tzus and young shelties. As well, with epiphora the surface of the eye may seem dry while tears flow off from the tract over the animals face and nose.

Various Conditions

There are various conditions that can cause watery eyes in a dog such as anatomical deformities, chronic viral infections and entropion. According to Healthy Pets (by Mercola), epiphora may be caused by

  • Conjunctivitis
  • A disease of the cornea
  • An obstruction of the tear duct
  • Dry eye, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)


Moreover, the cause can be minor like an infection or chronic such as glaucoma, a structural irregularity or an allergic reaction to an irritant, even a poor diet. And if you suspect that your animal’s condition is chronic or painful, do not hesitate to contact a veterinarian to make an immediate appointment. This is particularly important if your pet is have a hard time seeing.

Dry Eye

Dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is the failure of the eyes to produce enough eye cleansing tears. Normally, tears are made up of mostly water with some oils and mucus. Tears play a crucial role for eye health. For instance, tears are the only source of lubrication, acts as an anti-bacterial and helps remove infectious material and irritants. However, dry eye is when tears are lacking water. In result, your pet will have a thick yellow discharge from their eyes. As well, the eyes are red. In the advanced stages of KCS the cornea turns brown. And if the condition is not taken care of, there can be blindness.

Breeds that often get dry eye include Miniature Schnauzers, West Highland White Terriers and Cocker Spaniels.

Symptoms and Treatment

Aside from the lack of water in your pet’s tears and a discharge, other symptoms of dry eye include mucus and inflammation resulting from lower immune system, distemper, trauma to the head, an injury near the tear gland, removal of the lacrimal gland (third eyelid) or certain antibiotics.

Rendering to WebMD, common causes of dry eye are allergies, dust or excess wind in the eyes, a foreign object or a serious infection. Moreover, consulting in a veterinarian is imperative because some conditions can render your pet blind or without an eye if left untreated.

Whitworth Animal Clinic

If you are unclear or have any concerns about your dog’s condition, contact a veterinarian immediately, especially when your pet has an infection.

At Whitworth Animal Clinic, Charles D. Whitworth, DVM provides optimum care for your canine. In fact, Charles D. Whitworth, DVM has devoted more than thirty years as a Madison veterinarian. As well, Charles D. Whitworth, DVM has had a passion for animals and the veterinarian life since he was a young kid in the third grade.

If you suspect that your pet has dry eye, contact as soon as possible. Whitworth Animal Clinic is conveniently located in Madison and serves the surrounding area including north Alabama and communities of Madison such as Huntsville and Decatur.

© 2017 Whitworth Animal Clinic. All rights reserved.