Sometimes a dog's breed can cause mild genetic problems, and this is especially true when it comes to eye issues. If you own such a dog with a white or light-colored coat, then you might have noticed that tearstains are a common issue and can be difficult to clean, especially once these stains dry. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can prevent and remove these stains from your dog's coat, and learning what causes them may make grooming your dog simpler in the future.
What Causes Dog Tearstains?
Tearstains may develop in puppyhood and continue as your dog grows or they may start to appear once your dog is an adult. They can have many causes, including:
Blocked tear ducts
The shape of the dog's eyes
The breed of the dog
You may notice that the stains are dark or reddish-brown, but there is no cause for alarm once these stains start to appear. The first step is to visit your local veterinarian, who can rule out any serious issues or infections. If the stains are increasing due to some type of food intolerance, the next step is to inspect and change what your dog eats.
Tearstains and Food Ingredients
Your dog may be intolerant to certain ingredients in her kibble, such as corn or wheat products. These tend to cause some reactions in dogs with allergies such as increased itchiness, increased bacteria in the skin folds and heavier tearstains. Changing your dog's diet to one that helps reduce allergic reactions and fewer ingredients may help to reduce this problem.
Remaining aware of your dog's behaviors can help you identify a food allergy. For example, if she starts scratching more often or licks her paws rapidly, this could be the result of an allergic reaction. If you decide to change her food to a non-allergenic formula, mix the new food in with her usual fare gradually to prevent digestive upset. Your veterinarian may be able to help you choose a food that reduces allergic reactions.
Daily Facial Grooming
Because tearstains can be stubborn once they dry and may even form hard nodules in the corners of the eye that could affect your dog's vision, it can be helpful to remove them daily. First, wipe your dog's face with a clean, wet washcloth rinsed with lukewarm water to loosen the dried stains. Then use Angels' Eyes Gentle Dog Tearstain Wipes to remove the stains. These wipes are convenient for everyday use because they do not require rinsing and do not cause irritation to the eyes.
You can teach your dog to accept grooming as a puppy, which can make this daily process simpler. Introduce her to new products slowly and praise her when she allows you to use them. Do not allow nipping or growling, but do be patient and use praise and her favorite treats when she does not resist grooming.
Monthly Facial Grooming
Keeping your dog's face trimmed and free of debris can make removing tearstains simpler. A monthly trim around the eyes and muzzle can help you gauge whether your dog's tearstains are getting more severe or if a food change has helped the issue. Once you have trimmed away the hair, use Ark Naturals Eyes So Bright Gentle Dog and Cat Eye Wash to clean away any remaining tearstains and dried nodules. Not only does this product help to clean the area around the eyes, but it also reduces any existing irritation, which may reduce the risk of infection.
Use Hypoallergenic Grooming Products
If your dog has any type of allergy, you may want to use hypoallergenic grooming products to handle her tearstains and prevent any possible irritation to the eyes. This is especially important for products that you use every day to remove tearstains. Wet Ones Hypoallergenic Face/Eye/Ear Dog Wipes are one such option for your grooming arsenal, as they are fragrance-free and contain natural witch hazel. If you travel with your dog and she suffers from tearstains, these wipes are a convenient grooming tool that can be carried almost anywhere.
Clean the Ears As Well
When dogs have itchy, smelly ears, this may indicate an overgrowth of bacteria inside the ear canal. Weekly cleansing or wiping of the dog's ears with a medicated pad, such as DOUXO® S3 PYO Chlorhexidine + OPHYTRIUM™ Medicated Pads for Dogs and Cats , can reduce bacteria and slow tear production. If you suspect that your dog has a full-blown ear infection, however, it is wise to visit your vet right away. When infections do occur, the tear production may increase as well and take on a darker color as well.
Research Your Dog's Breed
While almost any dog can develop tearstain issues, they are sometimes more common in certain breeds because of how the eyes develop. Bulldogs, Pugs and Maltese dogs may have eye problems because of their short noses, which could increase tear production. Poodles, some terriers and spaniel breeds sometimes have genetic tear duct issues, where the duct gets blocked or does not develop completely. Your veterinarian can help you understand why your dog's breed might be predisposed to such eye problems, but in the meantime, understanding and researching the breed might help you win frustrating tearstain issues.
Cleaning tearstains on your white or light-colored dog can be an ongoing battle, especially as your dog ages and her vision may change. Working with your vet to ensure your pet's eyes remain healthy and asking about solutions for removing stains can keep your pet looking and feeling her best each and every day.