Tear Staining in Dogs

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There’s nothing like the feeling of snuggling together with your dog, stroking their soft ears and looking into their soft brown eyes. It’s said that our dog’s eyes are windows into their soul; it’s certainly hard to resist their charm when that pleading puppy gaze is directed our way! What happens when unsightly tear staining ruins the look of your pup’s perfect little face, however?

What is tear staining?

Tear staining is that rusty-reddish facial fur staining that happens when your dog’s eyes water too much, which can happen for a number of reasons. In a normal dog eye, there are small holes (called ducts) that drain tears away from the eye and down the throat, but in some dogs, the tear production is far more than usual. After the tears dry, porphyrins (pigments) in the tears are left on your dog’s face, causing a persistent stain over time.

What dogs are most affected?

Some breeds among our canine companions are definitely more prone to tear staining issues, mainly because of the way their faces are shaped. Shih Tzus, for example, have large, protruding eyes and short noses, which means that they can have problems with short or even blocked tear ducts. The Bichon Frise, Maltese Terrier, Pekinese, Cocker Spaniel and Pomeranian are other breeds that are at higher risk for tear staining too.

What causes my dog’s eyes to water?

Well, to start with, you should make an appointment at the vet for your dog; increased eye discharge and tear staining could mean that your furry friend has needs medical attention; allergies, irritation to the cornea (surface of the eye), excessively long facial hair, eye infection and even glaucoma (a progressive eye disease) can all be potential causes of increased tear production. In some cases, the tear ducts themselves are blocked, causing tears to spill over onto your furry friend’s face.

How do I get rid of tear stains?

In addition to taking care of any underlying health problems, it’s important to make a point of cleaning your dog’s eyes on a daily basis. First, start by keeping the hair trimmed around their face; damp, wet fur can irritate their eyes even more, as well as cause skin issues.  Next, choose an tear stain remover that’s safe to use around your dog’s face and eyes; moisten a cotton ball with a small amount of cleaner and gently wipe the stained areas. Although the coloration of tear stains can be tough to remove, persistent daily cleaning will eventually improve your dog’s appearance, making those little eyes look bright and happy once more!

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