If you have ever tried to win a staring contest with your dog, you are probably aware that it is very difficult to come out victorious. Although you may not see it very often, your dog does blink, and for many of the same reasons you do. Your dog also has some tricks hidden up its sleeves and blinks to carry out functions for reasons other than keeping the eyes wet.
Intentional Blinking Communication
Apart from the obvious blinking that your dog does when you move a hand toward its face or you walk in front of it, you may notice that your pup seems to flutter its eyes around you or when it approaches other dogs. Believe it or not, this is actually a form of non-verbal communication that canines, as well as some other animals, use to signal messages to other dogs and animals.
Contrary to a dog’s behavior when it becomes scared or intimidated, if your canine flutters its eyes toward other animals or people, it is showing to them that it is not threatening and wants to act friendly. This blinking, in other words, is the human equivalent of a smile and a wave. In the dog world, when one pooch stares another one down, it shows tension and stress while blinking represents relaxation.
Your dog likely tends to look friendlier in general when it approaches other animals or humans when it feels no fear or intimidation. Some body language features of this calm outward communication are a relaxed body and jaw, folded ears, and perhaps even a cheeky smile. Of course, not all pups will act like this when friendly, although the quick blinking is a very common feature that you may see.
Next time you approach a dog, whether it is yours or not, look at it in the eyes and blink. There is a possibility that you can have the same effect as other dogs in minimizing any tension or fear between you and the dog, and thus show it that you are not a threat.
Eye Health Issues
While blinking is a normal function of all dogs, excessive blinking and rubbing of the eyes indicate potential health issues and injuries. Some medical conditions are much less severe than others, such as a hair or foreign object in the eye. Other problems, such as a scratch or ulcer on the cornea, lead to more dangerous and undesirable effects and can need medical help.
If you find any abnormal objects in your dog’s eye, such as a hair or bug, then you should flush the eye gently to remove the object. Wait until the next day, and if the eye still has a removable object in it, take your dog to the vet and have a professional safely remove the object. Most of the time, your dog’s tears will flush the foreign body right out of the eye and your dog will be all back to normal.
Another common problem in the eyes of dogs is a red protrusion or bump in the corner of one or both of the eyes. This condition is widely known as “Cherry Eye,” as the red bump often looks like a cherry. This problem usually does not go away by itself, and although it does not cause your dog much pain, it is usually a recurring problem and can get worse.
To solve this issue, take your pup to the vet and have him or her decide the best course of action for your specific case. Another relatively common eye condition in canines is Dry Eye, which brings symptoms of red, irritated eyes that usually ooze a yellow fluid. If your dog develops Dry Eye, you can expect excessive blinking or squinting, as well as your dog shutting its eyes for extended periods of time.
If these symptoms persist, take your dog to the vet and get the full scoop on your dog’s medical status. It is essential to understand the extent of this injury, as dogs that develop Dry Eye are more likely to develop injuries to the cornea. Corneal injuries are usually what gives dogs a glossy eye or eyes. Your vet may prescribe your dog an eye ointment to help keep the eye wet and functioning for the future.
The last common medical condition that has symptoms of excessive blinking is Pink Eye. Similar to humans, your dog will have itchy eyes when it gets Pink Eye and will blink excessively as a result. Your dog might also have pink or swelling eyes, and if these symptoms do not resolve on their own, you should take your pup to the vet. Your vet may prescribe ointment or antibiotics to heal your dog’s Pink Eye.
Your Dog Is Copying You
Studies on dogs show that, well, dogs tend to like people. As a result of this affection between dogs and humans, your mutt just might copy the things you do. Whether it be laying down or sleeping, it is not uncommon for dogs to follow people around and copy the things they do. The same applies to blinking sometimes.
You should not underrate your dog’s intelligence, as dogs are capable of observing humans right down to the nitty-gritty details of life. If your dog is blinking excessively and you do not detect any health problems or issues, it might just be copying its favorite person in the room.
The main reason for your dog’s excessive blinking is that it is trying to communicate with other dogs or people. This continual blinking is a sign of submission and friendliness, which is essentially what humans use the smile and wave for. The blinking is sometimes combined with a yawn to show other creatures that it means no harm and is being peaceful.
However, this communication technique is not always the case, as some dogs blink abnormally as a result of an underlying health problem. Three of these common health problems that you should familiarize yourself with are Cherry Eye, Dry Eye, and Pink Eye, which are often not dangerous if you catch them early or prevent them from worsening.
One final possibility for your dog’s blinking behavior is that it is simply copying you. At the end of the day, blinking is something that every dog does, although some blinks are different from others.