Why Does Your Dog Have Tear Stains?
15 February, 2018
If your dog tears often, it is usually due to epiphora or an excessive tear condition which leads an overflow of tears onto the face. It can be caused by either excessive tear production, insufficient tear drainage, or a combination of both. The tear stains themselves are reddish-brown streaks under a dog’s eyes.
The condition is much more prevalent in certain breeds such as the Maltese, the Lhasa Apso, and the Shih Tzu, and more obvious in animals with light-colored coats. While tear staining is typically no more than a minor annoyance, it can also be a symptom of a serious eye health problem.
If your dog does tear often, you need to take your dog to your veterinarian to rule out any medical condition from glaucoma to other eye issues.
If your veterinarian has ruled out medical causes, there are many ways you can try to keep the tear stains away.
Tear stains are cause by porphyrins which causes discoloration
Tear stains are usually caused by dye molecules called porphyrins. Porphyrins are iron-containing molecules, produced when the body breaks down red blood cells. Porphyrins are excreted primarily through bile and the intestinal tract, but in dogs a significant amount of porphyrin is excreted through tears.
When porphyrin containing tears or saliva sits on white fur for any length of time, stains result. These iron-related stains intensify/darken in the presence of sunlight. All dogs produce porphyrin, but of course porphyrin staining is most noticeable on light colored dogs.
Most tear stains in most dogs can be simply prevented by keeping the face meticulously free of porphyrin-containing tears. That means keeping the face hair trimmed, and wiping the face at least twice daily with a slightly damp wash cloth, to dilute out and wash away the tears.
Some recommendations to stop the tear staining:
Meticulously maintain your dog’s clean face. Wipe face with a damp cloth twice a day to remove excessive tears, and keep regular appointments with the groomer.
Throw away your plastic food bowls. Use stainless steel, porcelain or glass. Plastic food bowls often develop tiny cracks that harbor bacteria and cause facial irritation.
Consider a mild boric acid containing solution as found in some contact lens cleaners, or use liquid vitamin C, on a cotton ball, to wipe the dog’s face and lighten the tear stains that have already formed.
Stop using tap water happens which tends to be high in mineral content or iron and consider giving your dog bottled water, or use a filter to create cleaner water.
What does your pup eat daily? Make sure that you pup is eating a premium, balanced whole-food diet that’s rich in real meat protein.
How fuzzy is your pup’s fur? Often, a gentle trim around the eye area can help remove older, darker, crustier stains. You might consider having a professional pet groomer to perform this service as a precaution.
By slightly altering the acidity of your dog’s body you can sometimes help alleviate tear staining. So try adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to a full bowl of your pup’s drinking water each day. If your dog rejects the taste, start with 1/4 teaspoon and work up to a full teaspoon.
Saline solutions: Try moistening a cotton gauze pad with gentle saline solution, and lightly rubbing around/underneath each eye. You can also mix one part hydrogen peroxide to four parts water. Over time, this can have a subtle brightening effect. Use a cotton swab or makeup sponge to carefully dab this diluted mixture beneath (not in) the eye area, along the sides of the nose.
Mild cleansers: Harsh chemical additives can actually irritate the sensitive mucus membranes around the delicate eye area, intensifying the problem. Instead, try moistening a damp washcloth with an extra-mild, non-tear baby shampoo. Gently wipe around the face and snout area every few days.
Every dog is different and some will respond better to certain solutions and treatments. But, most important, is if the tear stains are just that and not a medical condition, there is nothing to worry about.
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