Tear Stain Causes
- An array of conditions can contribute to tear stains in dogs. Among the most common is out-of-control growth of red yeast, a microorganism that thrives in moist environments such as skin folds. Allergies to pollens, grasses and even foods can result in tear stains. Tear ducts can host bacterial infections that cause staining. Ear infections, flea infestations, blocked tear ducts, caustic shampoos --- all can generate excessive tears that leads to staining of the fur under the eyes. Some dogs, including miniature breeds in particular, are genetically prone to tear stains.
- Your vet may recommend an antibiotic to kill bacteria that cause tear stains. This approach is not a long-term solution; it's designed to gain quick control of any bacterial infections in and around your dog's eyes. Antibiotics prescribed for tear-staining include tetracycline, which comes in pill form, and tylosin, which comes as a powder to sprinkle on food. Metrodinazole, an antibiotic used to treat colitis, may also alleviate tear-staining bacteria. Lincocin is an option for dogs whose tear stains fail to improve on other antibiotics.
- This antiseptic solution comes in a squeeze bottle, a spray bottle or with a dropper for quick and targeted application to your dog's eyes. Xenodine's active ingredient, iodine, disinfects wounded areas and cleans out bacteria and other hostile germs, so healing can begin. Xenodine is effective against fungal and yeast infections as well. It's also an all-purpose antiseptic that you can apply to treat other issues in your dog, including cuts, abrasions and postoperative sites.
Other Eye Drops
- Treating your dog's eyes with topical medications can rein in tear stains. Some eye drops, such as Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic Solution, include antibiotics that attack bacteria where they dwell, underneath the lid and in the tear ducts. Other drops contain vitamins designed to stop inflammation, irritation and staining over time. Hery Eye Care, for example, uses Vitamin E to soothe the eye and restore fur's original color. Espree Optisoothe Eye Wash has aloe vera to moisturize irritated eyes and flush out bacteria and other foreign objects. And Kinetic's Hy-Optic eyewash features sodium hyaluronate, a moisturizer, to wet the eyes and stop the itching and burning that generate tears.
- Dogs with tear stains may need dietary additives to curb bacterial growth and prevent allergies. Powders containing Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish and algae, can cut down on the inflammatory response that causes tearing. In municipalities with soft water supplies, adding calcium supplements to the diet can make tears' chemical makeup inhospitable to bacteria and yeast. If drinking water is high in minerals, adding small amounts of vinegar to a dog's water can also modify tear content to cut down on bacterial infestations. Plus, pet supply stores carry tablets formulated to cut back on tear stains with anti-inflammatory natural remedies including cranberry extract, grape root, calcium and marshmallow root.
- Stay on top of your dog's medical issues to keep tear stains from returning. Trim long fur from around the eyes, and get a handle on food allergies and other environmental triggers that irritate your dog's eyes. Wipe your dog's face every day with a damp, warm washcloth, cleaning away tears that have settled under the eyes to eliminate a key breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Use only tear-free, hypoallergenic shampoos on your dog. And ditch your dog's plastic water bowl for a glass or metal version, because researchers have linked plastic food dishes to allergies in some pets.