Sometimes, my dog looks at me and winks. I always found it cute, almost like we had an inside joke together. But then, it occurred to me, why does my dog wink at me?
Most dog owners will experience a wink or two every day. In some cases, it’s because your dog has something in their eye. But in other cases, it could be due to other factors, like what activity you’re engaging in or a medical condition.
Let’s go through the various reasons why dogs wink at their owners and explain why each type of wink occurs.
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Something’s in Their Eyes
The most common reason your dog is winking is that something got in their eye. Whether it’s dirt, dust, pollen, or some other debris, it’ll cause your dog to blink. If the debris only gets in one eye, they’ll wink at you.
Just like people, dogs produce tears to lubricate their eyes. When something gets in their eye, they’ll wink to produce more tears. The tears help flush out any debris and make their eyes more comfortable.
If you went out into the forest or on a walk, you might notice your dog winking more than normal. You shouldn’t worry too much about debris in their eyes. A dog’s body can handle small debris with its tears.
Dogs use their facial expressions to indicate their mood and temperament. Unlike humans, eye contact between dogs isn’t a sign of respect. In most cases, dogs who stare at other dogs are trying to show their dominance.
But when interacting with their owners, dogs use different tactics. It’s unlikely that when your dog stares at you, they’re trying to show dominance. And that’s where winks come in.
Most of the time, when your dog stares at you, they’ll look away or wink after a few moments. That’s a sign they know you’re the boss. They show you who’s boss by breaking off eye contact before you.
When dogs are happy or excited, they show a range of behaviors. They might whine, bark, or even jump on you to show how excited they are. Sometimes your dog will wink to show you that they’re happy.
Happy dogs do all sorts of things to get your attention. Winking back at you copies your behavior, which is a way dogs know how to grab your attention.
When you give your dog attention, it actually changes its facial expressions towards you. Scientists think this is a voluntary attempt to communicate with humans. One of the potential changes is winking or blinking at their owners.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and one of those habits is copying their owners. They love to have attention and affection from their owners. Most breeds want to copy their owner’s behavior to be closer to their owner.
Dogs are more intelligent than most people think. They imitate their family members’ behavior to feel like a pack member. One of the most common actions that dogs copy is yawning. Imitation is a completely normal behavior in dogs, and you shouldn’t be concerned.
One behavior they might copy from you is winking. Especially common in younger dogs, winking is one-way dogs will copy your facial expressions and mirror them back to you. Don’t worry. This is just a sign that your dog loves you and wants to spend time with you!
Sometimes, winking is a serious issue. It can indicate that your dog is suffering from a condition. Let’s go through the two most common conditions that cause winking in dogs.
Entropion is a genetic disorder that causes the eyelid to roll inward, towards the eye. The condition irritates the eye because the eyelid rubs against the cornea, which can cause scratches and irritation. In severe cases, it can cause corneal ulcers or cuts on the cornea.
Entropion is most common in adult dogs with short, stubby noses. Dogs, such as bulldogs and pugs, are more susceptible, but all breeds can develop the condition.
Entropion can cause excessive winking. In order to relieve the irritation caused by their eyelid, your dog will wink or blink rapidly in a short period. They do this to cause tears to form, so they could flush their eye of any debris or irritants.
The signs of entropion include:
- Holding the eye shut
- Epiphora (excessive tearing)
- Mucus build-up around the eye
If you think your dog suffers from entropion, take them to a vet immediately. They’ll run tests to verify the condition. Once verified, the vet will recommend a course of treatment that may include a surgical correction of the eye.
Blepharospasm is a condition in dogs that causes spasms in the eye. These spasms can occur in both eyes or one, which can make the condition look like a wink. Usually, blepharospasm is caused by another condition.
Other conditions that cause blepharospasm include eyelid swelling, entropion, corneal ulcer, and inflammation in the eye. In rare cases, the condition can be caused by debris that enters the eye, tumors, or nutritional disorders.
Treating blepharospasm is difficult. Treating the underlying condition should help alleviate your dog’s symptoms. That’s why it’s essential to visit a veterinarian if you suspect a disease is causing your dog’s winking. If left untreated, the condition can become worse.
In most cases, winking is a completely natural thing for your dog to do. In some cases, they’re showing you how happy they are or how you’re the boss. Winking can be both a sign of submission towards you or a way to show you that you’re their favorite person.
In some cases, winking can be more severe. If you notice your dog is winking excessively, you should take them to the vet. It can save your dog a lot of suffering if you identify and treat the condition early.
So, if you’re wondering “why does my dog wink at me,” there are several potential reasons. And for most, you have nothing to worry about other than giving your dog some much-needed attention!