Dog tear stains are a cosmetic problem, caused by an overflow of tears on the cheeks, which is more evident in dogs with white and other light-colored fur. Tear buildup on facial hair can lead to tangled hair, skin irritation, and possibly infection. The hair can act as a wick, drawing tears from the eye. This can be corrected by removing hair, keeping the area clean, and removing accumulated material or crusting. If a skin injury or any type of infection or eye problem is suspected, consult your veterinarian.

Facial hair is a breeding ground for the growth of bacteria and yeast.

You should take steps to eliminate any bacterial or yeast infections. The most common is “red yeast,” associated with reddish-brown facial staining and possibly a moderate to strong odor, as bacteria on the hair and skin react with clear tears.

If you’re planning to buy a puppy and chromodacryorrhea (dog tear stains) is a problem for you, look at the dam, father, and others in the lineage.

Many specialists believe that the individual structure around the eye area plays a role in dog tear stains. If so, then genetics may be the source of the problem. Miniature breeds and Persian cats tend to have more prominent eyes that stretch the eyelid and can cut into the drainage system. There is little that can be done to correct this. Sometimes the eyelids turn inward and block drainage; this is surgically correctable. However, if you think surgery is too drastic and the problem is not that serious, try alternative methods that are less harsh.

Who is predisposed to dog tear stain problems?

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 stains on the face. 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 issues causing the excessive tearing and staining.

Keeping your canine 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, fungal 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 staining in dogs. Mineral problems can be remedied if the dog drinks distilled or reverse osmosis purified water.

Food sources or even plastic food bowls may be causing the staining which can be corrected. However, removing tear stains and continuing to feed a food that causes tear stains will not solve the problem.

Slightly changing the dog’s pH can do wonders in the tear stain war and help eliminate bacteria, deep stain color and prevent fungal buildup. A preventative strategy best used once tear stains have been removed or nearly removed.

500 mg of calcium carbonate, your basic antacid, twice daily helps change the pH of your dog’s system and helps prevent fungus or infection, thus treating dog tear stains from the inside out. The vinegar will work as the calcium antacid to change the pH of the drinking water. Add a teaspoon of white cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water to control new tear stains. It may take your pet a while to adjust to this water, so start with a little less and gradually increase the amount of vinegar.

One option that can be discussed with your vet is a common eye drop called naphthazoline, which dilates the tear ducts so more tears flow where they are supposed to rather than over the eyelids and face.

Another possibility is to put your dog on a very low dose of antibiotics which will kill the overgrowth of bacteria. However, this should be a last resort, should not be used for ongoing treatment, and should not be considered for puppies without their permanent teeth.

Dog tear staining is often more complex than simple answers offer.

Veterinary consultation is appropriate to determine the source of a dog tear staining problem. Ask your vet to do a complete exam on the dog to rule out any serious eye conditions before trying anything.

There are home remedies, using mixtures of milk of magnesia, cornstarch, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, boric acid, and lemon juice. However, harsh ingredients can irritate and make the tear worse. A stain remover should not contain alcohol or bleach. If these ingredients are not mixed correctly, using exactly the right concentration, and applied safely, they could harm your dog.

The solution should not be allowed to run through facial hair or splash into the pet’s eye or eye area. For this reason, caution suggests that you seek out over-the-counter products and refrain from using these homemade formulas.

Use an over-the-counter dog tear stain remover to safely, effectively, and gently minimize the condition for a “satisfactory enough” removal result rather than complete removal. Unless your pet is a show dog, this is not really a serious problem. A sterile protective ophthalmic ointment under the eyes, when applying the stain remover, is an excellent idea. It will keep your eyes comfortable because the transparent barrier prevents irritation.

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