White-coated breed dogs have it hard because they develop those unsightly red-brownish tear stains underneath their eyes at some point in their life. What’s more, they get them around their muzzles and in between their toes, as well. Tear stains are seen in certain breeds more often than others. So, what causes these issues? What can you do to get rid of them? Read on to know more about tear stains in this article.
What do tear stains indicate?
Like humans whose eyes water if a speck of dust gets inside, a dog’s eyes produce tears when irritated to try and flush away the foreign substance. When the eyes are constantly irritated, this can result in chronic tearing that produces stains. Tear stains in themselves are not harmful to your dogs. A normal dog eye has small holes that drain tears away from the eye and down the throat. This drainage can be affected by a variety of problems, leading to excessively watery eyes. These conditions include:
- Ingrown eyelashes
- Uncommonly large tear glands or small tear duct openings
- Inverted eyelids
- Shallow eye sockets
Other non-ear-related issues can also be an indicator of tear stains such as:
- Ear infections
- Teething problems in puppies
- Poor diet
- A pH imbalance
What dog breeds or types are more susceptible to tear stains?
Whatever the breed is, white dogs are easily seen with tear staining in their faces because the pigments in their tears normally dye light-colored fur. However, tear stains can be present on any dog. For instance, short-nosed breeds such as Pug, Shih Tzu, and Pekingese are prone to excessive tearing since they often have hair growth in skin folds around their eyes or have shallow eye sockets. Also, small breeds with long hairs on the face are usually affected by this problem. Examples of these are Toy Poodles, Bichons Frise, Maltese, Lhasa Apsos, and West Highland White Terriers.
How to clean and remove small dog tear stains
Tear stains can’t be easily washed away with soap and water. Here’s how you can clean and remove those dark gunk from your dog’s face:
- Clean up as early as possible and do it thoroughly
The best way to remove tear stains is by cleaning the areas early and often. This way, the stain cannot set in deeply. To do this, you need a dog tear stain remover. Paste removers are ideal for fighting bacteria in your dog’s wrinkles and rolls. Then there’s the liquid type that’s good for softening the dried eye crust and stripping them from the dog’s hair. You can also get wipes to remove the gunk from his eyes physically. When buying a dog tear stain remover, consider picking one that’s made of safe, natural ingredients.
- Trim deeply stained areas
Soaking and wiping the marks can significantly help in lightening and removing those stains. But if they’ve already become deep stains, it might be impossible to remove them entirely with just soaking and wiping. In this case, trim the affected areas so new hair can grow. It’ll take time, but you’ll see regular improvement over time if you’re proactively cleaning your dog’s face. If his hair is short, clean the area regularly to stop new stains from setting in and wait for the new hair to replace itself via shedding.
- Try home remedies
If you’re one of those chemical-conscious dog owners, then you might be wondering how to clean his stains naturally. Here are 3 natural remedies that other dog owners have used:
- Hydrogen peroxide
Just be very cautious when using it around the dog’s eyes. While it’s safe to use topically, an undiluted solution could dry out your dog’s skin.
- Apple cider vinegar
Some dog owners believe that adding 1 teaspoon of ACV to their dog’s water or meal each day helps remove stains. That’s because they believe this can fix the pH imbalance of your dog, preventing new stains from developing. Another way is to dilute it with water and use it topically.
Some owners and experts also suggest giving your pooch a teaspoon of plain, unsweetened yogurt every day to improve gut bacteria. While there’s no hard evidence on this one like ACV, yogurt is safe and healthy for your dog, so you’ve got nothing to lose.
Prevention tips for dog tear stains
- Check the quality of your dog’s food.
Allergies can be the reason why your Bichon Frise or small dog is having excessive tears. Have you checked his diet? It could be the culprit. To be safe, go for a high-quality, grain-free diet. The wheat, corn, and meals included in inferior-quality foods might be the ones causing allergic reactions.
- Do the same for the water.
Has your dog been drinking from a new water source? Staining might be his body’s response to excess minerals. Use distilled, purified, or reserve-osmosis water sources instead.
- Do daily eye-hair and mouth-hair hygiene
If your dog has a naturally long coat, his fur might be getting into his eyes. As a result, it causes tearing. Check your dog’s face for any hanging fur that’s near his eyes daily and trim as often as needed. Then, groom his face. To do this, use a canine eyewash. Moisten a cotton ball with the solution and rub underneath and around the eye area. For his muzzle hair, wash it with dry or waterless shampoo and a wet washcloth. Comb and blow-dry afterward.
- Keep your dog’s moist areas dry.
To remove the excess water around the dog’s mouth whenever he drinks from a bowl, use paper towels. You can also consider using glass water bottles rather than water bowls. Another alternative solution is to dust some cornstarch under the eye, around the muzzle, and between toes.
- Remove other factors that are causing eye irritation
Irritated eyes produce tears to flush away the irritants. These irritants can be perfumes, cigarette smoke, allergies, spray air fresheners, or deodorants. If you think a substance is a culprit, stop exposing him to the substance to see if it helps. If he’s suffering from allergies, get him to the vet. When you need to use aerosol spray, keep him out of the room for around 20 minutes or until the air is clear.