Dog tear stains are a cosmetic problem, caused by an overflow of tears on the cheeks, which is most obvious in dogs with white coats and other light colors. Tear buildup in facial hair can lead to hair tangling, skin irritation, and possibly infection. Hair can act like a lock, drawing tears from the eye. This can be corrected by removing hair, keeping the area clean, and removing built-up material or scabs. If you suspect a skin injury or any type of infection or eye problem, see your vet.
Facial hair is a breeding ground for the growth of bacteria and yeast.
You must take steps to eliminate any bacterial or fungal infections. The most common is “red yeast,” associated with reddish-brown facial patches and possibly a moderate to strong odor, as bacteria on hair and skin react with light tears.
If you plan to buy a puppy and the potential for chromodacryorrhea (dog tear stains) is an issue for you, watch the mother, father, and others in the lineage.
Many specialists believe that the individual structure around the eye area plays an important role in dog tear stains. If so, genetics may be the source of the problem. Miniature breeds and Persian cats often have more prominent eyes that stretch the eyelid and can cut off the drainage system. Little can be done to correct this. Sometimes the eyelids turn inward and block drainage; this can be corrected surgically. However, if you think the surgery is too drastic and the problem is not that bad, try alternative methods that are less harsh.
Who is predisposed to tear stain problems in dogs?
Akita, American Bulldog, American Eskimo Dog, Bichon Frize, Brussels Griffon, Cairn Terrier, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, Cocker Spaniel, Corgi, Dachshund, English Toy Spaniel, French Bulldog, Golden Retriever, Havanese, Japanese Chin, King Charles Cavalier Spaniel , Lhasa Apso, Lion Dog, Maltese, Maltipoos, Miniature Schnauzer, Papillion, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Saint Bernard, Sharpei, Shih Tzu and West Highland White Terrier.
Determine the source of tears and facial stains. The problem of dog tear stains is more than an appearance problem. Tear staining can be attributed to health and diet, as well as genetics. Make sure there are no underlying health problems causing the excessive tearing and staining.
Keeping your dog healthy is the most important thing.
Dog tear stains can be a sign that your pet is sick. Ear infections, eye infections, eye irritations, allergies, yeast infections, and inflammation of the duct system are all possible reasons. These conditions are often painful and should be addressed immediately by your vet.
Changes in diet or minerals in drinking water can cause tear stains in dogs. Mineral problems can be remedied by drinking distilled or reverse osmosis purified water.
Food sources or even plastic food bowls may be causing stains that can be corrected. However, if you remove the tear stains and continue to feed a food that causes them, it will not solve the problem.
Slightly changing the dog’s pH can work wonders in the tear stain war and help remove bacteria, deep stain color, and prevent yeast build-up. A preventative strategy best used once tear stains are removed or nearly removed.
500 mg of calcium carbonate, your basic antacid, twice a day helps change the pH of your dog’s system and helps prevent yeast or infection, thereby treating dog tear stains from the inside out. Vinegar will work much like calcium antacid to change the pH of drinking water. Add a teaspoon of white cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water to control new tear stains. It may take a while for your pet to adjust to this water, so start with a little less and gradually increase the amount of vinegar.
One option you can discuss with your vet is a common eye drop called naphtazoline, which dilates the tear ducts so that more tears flow where they are supposed to rather than on the eyelids and on the face.
Another possibility is to put your dog on a very low dose of antibiotics that will kill bacteria overgrowth. However, this should be a last resort, should not be used for ongoing treatment, and should not be considered for puppies without their adult teeth.
Dog tear staining is often more complex than simple answers provide.
Veterinary consultation is appropriate to determine the source of a dog tear stain problem. Ask your vet to give the dog a complete exam to rule out any serious eye conditions before trying anything.
There are home remedies that use mixtures of milk of magnesia, cornstarch, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, boric acid, and lemon juice. However, strong ingredients can irritate and make tearing worse. A stain remover should not contain alcohol or bleach. If these ingredients are not mixed properly, in the proper concentration, and applied safely, you could harm your dog.
No solution should be allowed to seep through facial hair or splash into the pet’s eye or eye area. For this reason, caution suggests that you look for over-the-counter products and refrain from using these homemade formulas.
Use a quality over-the-counter dog tear stain remover to safely, effectively, and gently minimize the condition for a “good enough” rather than complete removal result. Unless your pet is a show dog, this is not really a serious problem. A sterile protective ophthalmic ointment under the eyes, when applying stain remover, is an excellent idea. It will keep your eyes comfortable because the transparent barrier prevents irritation.