Dog tear stains are basically the reddish-brown marks that are visible beside a dog’s eye. This common problem has numerous causes some of which are over-production of tears or the inability to drain away from the tears naturally.
Mostly visible on dogs with white or light-coloured fur, this problem is very easily treatable once you understand the root causes and symptoms of dog tear production and staining. This blog will discuss everything that you need to know about this interesting phenomenon as pooch parents.
What are these tear stains in the first place?
When the red blood cells in a dog’s body break, a pigment-containing molecule remains as a waste product. This molecule is what causes the red colour in the tears and consequently, the stains.
These are known as porphyrins, which contain iron which causes colouration. Porphyrins are usually excreted out but in the case of dogs, they are dispelled from saliva, tears, and urine.
These tear stains are also present in dogs with darker fur but it is harder to spot them. That is why it is important for dog parents to always keep an eye out for tear stains, especially if the dog has dark-coloured fur.
There are two primary causes of tear stains – either the dog is producing too many tears or the tears are not being able to drain away naturally.
This could be indicative of an infection or an underlying medical condition. That is why you should always consult your vet when you see these tear stains.
There can be a number of underlying medical reasons that cause tear stains in dogs, some of which are discussed as follows.
Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a serious optic complication that causes a build-up of pressure in the eye and consequently optic damage.
Eye infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections of the eye can cause excessive discharge from the eye.
Conjunctivitis: This causes inflammation of the eye’s lining dispelling pus, mucus, or discharge.
Ear infections: Ear infections may cause the eye on that side of the face to tear up more than usual.
Entropion: This is a serious condition in which the eyelid rolls in. This causes the eyelashes to rub against the eye and cause irritation.
There are some mechanical causes for these stains as well. Some of them are:
- Larger than normal tear glands produce increased amounts of tears.
- Small tear duct openings that cause the tears to spill into the fur instead of draining out properly.
- Scarring or previous ear damage or infection may cause reduced drainage.
- Hair around the eyes may cause irritation and cause excessive tearing.
- Shallow eye sockets particularly in breeds with short muzzles like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Pekingese cause ineffective drainage of teardrops that collect by the side of the eyes and cause staining.
These physiological and structural reasons are mostly the lead causes of tear stains in dogs. However, there may be some other factors that contribute to this phenomenon. Let’s find out!
External irritation: External irritants like dust and other particles may cause excessive tearing in the body’s natural attempt to clear the foreign particles out.
Allergic reactions also often cause excessive tearing in dogs. These allergies could be seasonal, something in the environment, or something in the food and water they consumed.
Poor diet and stress can often cause such reactions in the dog’s body. A diet full of indigestible ingredients can cause your dog a lot of physical stress. Cheap and low-quality diets often cause such complications.
Teething in puppies is a time when they produce a lot of tears. That is why the tear stains become so apparent. Although it is recommended that you consult your vet once this happens, the tearing and staining will most likely go away with the teething.
These are mainly all the medical, structural, and other reasons that cause or contribute to excessive tearing and consequently, tear stains in dogs. Let us now check out the signs and symptoms of this condition so you can quickly diagnose the problem and take your pooch to the vet.
Signs and Symptoms Of Tear Strain
Some of the most obvious signs and symptoms are the stained fur beneath each eye and also dampened fur caused by excessive production of tears. These symptoms are a lot harder to spot in dogs with darker coats.
Your dog may also be dispelling discharge from each eye but this may not happen all the time. More importantly, if you find the discharge to be a little brown in colour and a little odour around it, you should probably consult the vet about a possible yeast infection in your dog’s eyes. Such infections are primarily caused by the fur being constantly damp under the eyes.
Ways To Treat Tear Stains And Excessive Tearing In Your Precious Pooch
If the cause of tear stains in your dog happens to be a medical one, your doctor/veterinarian is going to prescribe some medicines to help with that. If the cause is as severe as Entropion, your dog may require surgery to keep the eyelids from rolling in.
In case, the excessive tearing and staining are due to an allergy, the removal of the responsible allergen or irritant can reverse and fix the condition. Your dog may require antihistamines if the allergen cannot be entirely removed. In case of food allergies, a shift to a higher grade, grain-free, canine appropriate diet for dogs with allergies and sensitivities is recommended.
What to do in cases of mechanical causes of tear stains?
If the cause of tear staining in your dog is mechanical, there is nothing you can do medically or surgically to have it fixed. However, it is possible to work your way around it and keep the staining under control. How to do that? Let’s find out.
- Keep your dog’s face scrupulously clean. You can wipe their face with a damp cloth twice a day to keep tear staining to a minimum.
- You should keep the fur in the area around the eyes trimmed so that they don’t grow into and irritate the eyes. You can do this by yourself or take your dog to a groomer for fur trim.
- You can use organic refined coconut oil on your dog’s fur as this water-repellant can protect your dog’s skin and stop staining at the same time.
- Use warm water and cotton pads to clean the stained area. This is the safest way to go about it. However, if the stains are too stubborn, a dilute boric acid solution may come to aid.
- Use food and water bowls made of porcelain, glass, or stainless steel. Plastic bowls get damaged easily and can harbor harmful bacteria that can harm your fur buddy further.
These are the main causes of and solutions for tear staining. This problem is quite manageable but only if you know what to do and how to treat it. We hope this blog helped you understand this phenomenon better and you deal with this effectively the next time you see signs of it in your precious pooch. Source
Also See: The Six Stages of a Dog’s Life