What Is Tear Staining and What Can You Do About It.
Recently I've received quite a few questions about tear staining. Owners want to know what causes it and what they can do to combat it. In this piece I'll discuss the reasons tear staining occurs and some of the steps you can take to remedy this condition in your dog.
Causes of Tear Staining:
Tear staining is most obvious in light colored dogs and occurs most often in toy breeds. The staining is often brown in color, but sometimes takes on a pinkish hue as well. This condition is caused by an overflow of a dog’s natural tears onto the fur. The reason that tears end up on the fur can vary.
- In breeds with bulging eyes, the eyelid may stretch in such a way that makes it impossible for the tears to reach the point where they normally enter the duct in the eyelid and flow down to the nose.
- In other dogs the ducts can be blocked (which can sometimes be corrected surgically).
- Some dogs have excessive tearing issues. The hair surrounding their eyes acts almost like a wick, drawing the excess moisture out. The constant wetness around their eyes harbors bacteria and creates staining. This can actually cause a type of yeast infection (known as “Red Yeast”) under your dog’s eyes.
- Allergies can cause tear staining and staining around the mouth as well.
- Yeast infections within the ears can also cause an increase in tear staining.
How To Improve This Condition:
Many top breeders of toy dogs who suffer from this issue say that watching what your dog takes in is key to controlling tear stains. Here are a few tips that may improve this condition in your dog:
- Tap water often contains a large amount of minerals that can contribute to eye and face staining. Using purified or bottled water may help with these issues over time.
- Feed only high quality diets (and treats) with no fillers (corn, soy, wheat) or artificial colors. These are often allergens and can contribute to reactions in your dog.
- If you were using plastic food and water bowls, switch over to stainless steel. Plastic feeding dishes are often an overlooked cause for allergic reactions in dogs.
- Some breeders suggest giving a small dog ˝ of a Tums (250 mg) twice a day. This will change the PH balance of your dog’s tears, thus making it a less friendly environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive.
What About Topical Tear Stain Removal Products?
While there are a number of tear stain removal products on the market right now, the consensus is that these are mostly a waste of money. They generally do not work and putting anything harsh near your dog’s eyes is obviously *not* a good idea!
Ask Your Vet:
In extreme cases your vet may recommend putting your dog on a course of Tetracycline, an antibiotic. While this can be effective in treating the tear stains, it also can have side effects including gastrointestinal upset and staining of the teeth. If you notice your dog shaking his head or scratching his ears, he may have a yeast infection that is furthering the tear staining. In this case, Otomax or Gentamician is often prescribed in the form of drops.
Fighting tear stains can be a frustrating battle. Taking the steps above can often help improve this unsightly condition, but it may take a bit of time before you see a noticeable change in your dog’s appearance.