There are many reasons why dogs wink and most of them are benign. However there are some medical conditions that lead to excessive winking, and these must be treated seriously.
In this article I’m going to discuss the reasons why dogs wink, so that you can recognise whether or not your dog requires medical treatment or if it’s just being a normal winking dog!
Table of Contents
- Why Do Dogs Wink?
- Benign Reasons Why Dogs Wink
- Medical Reasons Why Dogs Wink
- Related Posts
Why Do Dogs Wink?
What’s the difference between a wink and a blink? Probably not much to be honest although a wink suggests something conscious and deliberate whereas a blink something perhaps more involuntary.
Blinking occurs naturally. Just like us dogs blink to lubricate their eyes to prevent them from drying out. Additionally, dogs blink as a mechanism to move foreign objects out of the field of vision and ultimately remove them from the eye itself.
Blinking is something that occurs without having to think about it.
Winking on the other hand is something that’s done with purpose. We humans wink as a form of acknowledgement or to show a tacit understanding with someone.
But why do dog’s wink?
For the purposes of this article I’m going to discuss winking… but I’m going to use the term to explain the reasons why dogs blink too.
Benign Reasons Why Dogs Wink
1. Dogs Wink to Show Submissiveness
Since dogs can’t communicate with words they use behavioural signals to make their feelings known.
We know that when a dog meets another dog they express themselves in numerous ways to display dominance or submissiveness. Hence dogs growl, bark, bare their teeth or stiffen their muscles to show they’re in a dominant mood.
Conversely, dogs display submissiveness through behaviours such as tucking the tail between the legs, exposing the belly or lowering the head. Winking too is a behaviour designed to demonstrate passivity and deference.
If a dog stares at another dog and holds eye contact without blinking or turning away, this too suggests aggressive behaviour. As a consequence dogs may wink and break eye contact to demonstrate they’re not a threat and thereby avoid conflict.
Your dog may wink at you in this way to acknowledge that you are the alpha in the house!
2. Dogs Wink When They’re Happy
If a dog demonstrates aggression it’s unlikely that it’s happy. As discussed above, a dog that holds eye contact and growls is a dog that’s not happy!
Hence, when a dog blinks we might assume it’s in a relaxed and happy state. If course this might not be the most visible indication that your dog is happy… frantic tail wagging is likely a bigger statement of mood!
3. A Dog May Wink to Imitate You!
I’ve often noticed that my dog will copy me if I wink slowly while looking at it. Perhaps it’s reflecting back to me that it’s not a threat. More likely I feel is that it becomes conscious of its own ability to wink as a consequence, and does so to copy me.
Most dogs have an ability to learn from and mimic us, whether it be to cock their heads in response if we do so or wink back to us when we blink at them… it’s just another way our dogs communicate with us.
Medical Reasons Why Dogs Wink
1. A Dog Might Wink Because of Allergies
Just as some people blink and wink when they react to pollen during summer months, dogs too might wink if allergies are causing their eyes to be irritated.
If you find that your dog is winking excessively, and its eyes are watering or appear sore and puffy it may be suffering from allergies.
In this case you might also notice your dog scratching irritated skin or skin that’s swollen and red. A veterinary professional will likely be the best person to speak to about what you can do to manage allergies.
2. Dogs Wink Excessively With Eye Infections
As With winking caused by allergies, eye infections cause the kind of irritation that will also make a dog wink excessively.
Eye infections manifest :
- Winking excessively
- Watery eyes
- Inflammation / swelling
A vet will usually prescribe either antibiotics or eye drops to treat your dog’s eye infection which should reduce the soreness and consequently the excessive winking.
3. Winking Caused by Blepharospasm
Blepharospasm is a condition affecting one of both eyelids and results in involuntary spasms. As a result, a dog with blepharospasm will wink and blink excessively.
The blepharospasm is caused by a malfunction in the past of the brain that regulates voluntary muscle control, such as winking the eye.
There are many reasons why a dog might suffer blepharospasm but since it relates to the brain of your dog winks excessively without external symptoms of soreness or irritation, you should speak with a veterinary professional for diagnosis and treatment.
4. A Dog Will Wink Because of Entropion
Some dogs can suffer from something called entropion. This is a genetic condition whereby the eyelid folds inwards, irritating the surface of the eye. Since the eye becomes irritated, a dog will wink excessively in an attempt to lubricate it.
Sadly, entropion can result in:
The symptoms of entropion are often managed with eye drops but sometimes surgery is required to correct the defect.
Dogs Wink for a variety of reasons, some of which are not at all problematic but a way to communicate with other dogs and with us.
If course if a dog winks all the time and it appears distressed it may indicate a medical problem requiring treatment.
As should be the case in any situation regarding the health and wellbeing of your dog, if you’re at all concerned about why your dog winks speak to a veterinary professional at the earliest possible opportunity.
Has your dog experienced any of the symptoms discussed here? Why does your dog wink? To tell me about it or ask a question please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
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