Tear Stains on Dogs

If you have a small white fluffy (SWF) dog such as a Maltese Terrier, Lhasa Apso or Bichon Frise, you have may have noticed the tear stains under his or her eyes.  Not very attractive, is it?  Annoyingly, this problem tends to happen mainly on SWFs, which means that the black or brown staining is very obvious on the white fur.

Why does this happen?  Well, if the tear staining has always been the case with your pooch, it may be due to a problem with the tear ducts.  Tear ducts are small outlets that provide drainage for the tears that are produced by the tear glands, or lacrimal glands.  There are two tear ducts in each eye which in turn join together to form the nasolacrimal duct, which empties into the nose.  In certain breeds, especially SWF breeds, the tear duct is too narrow to allow drainage, or is blocked.  If the tear staining is a new problem, the tear ducts may have recently become blocked or there may be another issue, such as an eye irritation, that has caused increased discharge.

A simple way of minimizing staining is to clean the dog's eyes once or twice a day with a cotton ball dipped in warm water.  The eyes should be wiped with the soaked cotton ball from the inside corner outwards.  If staining has already occurred, there are a number of over the counter products that may aid in removing or reducing the tear stains.  If the problem is severe, your veterinarian may be able to flush the tear ducts to release any blockage.  This will need to be done under general anesthetic or heavy sedation and may need to be repeated from time to time.

Do you have an SWF? How do you handle the tear staining? Share your tips with us in the comments!

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1 Response

  1. Bonnie says:

    If you live in an area where your tap water is high in lime from the watershed coming from limestone creeks or other areas of high mineral content (especially calcium), then you should use DISTILLED water rather than tap for your white dogs. The calcium in the tap water is a major cause of tear staining in white dogs. The calcium is also a source for the rampant onslaught of bladder stones, esp. in bichons. Use DISTILLED water for the kids' drinking and the stones will be prevented and the tear stains will not materialize. This has been tested significantly with the bichon groups around the limestone creek NE and is vet verified and approved as well. DISTILLED water is different from filtered or spring water as the distillation pocess removes all particulate content.

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