Tear stains are distinguished as the reddish brown streaks that appear under your dog's eye. It is commonly seen in dog breeds such as the Lhasa Apso, Maltese, and Shih Tzu. It is much more noticeable on animals with light-colored fur.
A lot of pet owners fret over tear staining because it doesn't look good, but there is more to tear staining than the aesthetic concern. Epiphora (excessive tear production), is the most common cause of discoloration.
The reason is because your pet's tears contain porphyrins, which are molecules that contain iron as the result of red blood cells breakdown.
Genetics, environmental factors, and overall health status can influence the amount of porphyrins that your pet makes and secretes. The porphyrins can leave a rust-colored stain if it sits on your pet's fur.
Medical Reasons for Excess Tearing and Tear Strains
Excess tearing can be a result of many conditions. If your dog has a flatter snout and protruding eyes, check if her facial hair is not rubbing on her cornea, as this may lead to tearing and irritation.
A good way to solve this problem is by keeping the fur around her eyes trimmed short. Other medical conditions that may cause excess tearing include:
- Ectropion: A condition in which the lower eyelid rolls out or droops from the surface of the eyes, which causes watery eyes and irritation.
- Entropion: A condition in which the lower eyelid folds inward, which causes pain, irritation, and excessive tearing.
- Trichiasis: A condition in which the eyelashes grow in the wrong direction, which causes pain and irritation.
If your pet doesn't have any structural abnormality on her eyelid or eyelashes, then excessive tearing could be due to viral conjunctivitis, glaucoma or your pet might be suffering from an allergic reaction.
A foreign object that gets stuck in your pet's eye, causing acute injury, can also cause tearing and irritation.
Some Breeds Struggle With Normal Tear Drainage
Abnormal tear drainage is one of the causes of tear stains. It is quite common in brachycephalic breeds (dogs with "pushed" faces). Examples include pugs, bulldogs, Shih Tsuz and Pekingese.
These breeds commonly develop eyelid problems because of their protruding eyes. They often have difficulty in closing their eyes all the way. This may lead to drying and irritation, which can also lead to excessive tearing as their body attempts to keep the corneas moist and well lubricated. Most of these breeds also have abnormal tear drainage.
Their tear isn't funneled into their tear ducts, then it spills out onto their faces, which makes their eyes chronically runny. Sometimes, your pet's tear ducts may be simply blocked. Go to your veterinarian as he/she may be able to flush them out and solve the problem.
Getting a veterinary ophthalmologist for complicated cases is well worth it. They have the training, experience and specialize equipment necessary to perform delicate eye surgery.
Excessive Tearing Can Lead to Infection
Excessive tearing from your pet's eye may lead to infection. If you noticed an unpleasant order, then your pet may have developed a yeast infection.
You may see a holistic veterinarian for natural treatment option if your pet has caught a yeast or another infection. You could also try using colloidal silver as it has antimicrobial properties that may help reduce yeast infection. Apply a small amount (via cotton ball) and gently rub it in your pet's face.
Alternatively, you can also dilute an organic tear-free baby shampoo and gently cleanse the skin around your dog's eye twice a day until the infection is gone.
Tips for Removing and Preventing Tear Stain
- Wipe your dog's face with a damp cloth at least twice a day. This will clear away porphyrin.
- Keep your dog's face hair trimmed.
- If the hair around your pet’s eyes is notably annoying to her, ask a groomer to shave the hair under the eyes. Applying a thin layer of coconut oil to the area may help reduce irritation and inflammation.
- Use some herbal eye wash products that may be useful for pets that are prone to tear stains. There are also supplements that are notable in assisting detoxification such as dandelion, milk thistle, chlorophyll, olive leaf, probiotics, and colostrum.
- Overall, a good health foundation is needed. Feed your dog a fresh, and well-balanced diet and always supply clean and filtered drinking water.
- If you feed your dog a commercial diet, then it is recommended to rotate brands and recipes/flavors to provide a variety of nutrients to your pet. This will also give your pet a break from the exact same amount of premixed vitamins and minerals that you feed her on a daily basis.
- Avoid removing tear stains with products like milk of magnesia, hydrogen peroxide, corn syrup, make-up remover, and medicated powders intended for humans.
- Avoid tear stain products that contain antibiotics. You should only use a tear stain product that is clearly labeled as "antibiotic free". For natural options, go to your holistic veterinarian and ask for a recommendation.
By keeping your pet’s face clean, providing her with a healthy diet and addressing any injuries or structural or infectious factors in her excessive tearing, you can likely keep tear staining to a minimum.