Tear Stains In Dogs – Cause & Treatment
What are tear stains? What causes them and how can you treat them? In this article we discuss how you can easily eliminate those rusty coloured stains from your dog’s face! Many cute dogs especially light coloured ones have their face marked with tear stains.
What Causes Tear Stains?
Dog tears cause tear stains. Tearing is a natural and essential process in dogs. Tearing keeps your dog’s eyes and membranes lubricated and hydrated. Different dogs will have different tearing rates. Some dogs tear more than others and such dogs would be more prone to tear stains.
What Makes them Red / Copper Coloured?
Like humans, dogs recycle their red blood cells. Once these red blood cells reach the end of their cycle, they are broken down into other forms for the body to process. During this breakdown process a group of compounds called porphyrins are created. These porphyrins contain iron and are mostly removed from the body via the urine and faeces. However these can also be removed from the body through saliva and tears. When the iron in these porphyrins comes into contact with air, it undergoes an oxidation reaction and forms iron oxide, in other word rust! So in reality those red stains are rust stains!
In some dogs you also see stains around the lips and skin folds. For example, British bulldogs often have the inside of their face folds stained. Dogs that have a tendency to lick their paws a lot will also develop these stains on the paws. Some dogs are more prone to these stains. The reason for this is that these dogs will produce more porphyrins . Geneticists believe that the amount of porphyrins that a dog produces is genetically related.
Tear stains are more of a problem in light coloured dogs as they are easier to stain. However staining will also happen to darker coats.
Related: Storing Pet Food Properly
Removing Tear Stains
Before you attempt to remove any tears stains, make sure that they are indeed tear stains. Talk to your vet for a proper diagnosis.
The basic thing to do is to keep your dog’s face clean and well groomed in case of longer coats. The idea is to remove the fur that may act as a sponge and retain the tears.
Eye wipes are a good idea to keep your dog’s face free from tear stains. By wiping the tears you would be preventing the tears from staining the coat. Eye wipes can be very effective to clean tear stains that are already present.
Other Things You Can Try
Some other remedies suggested by dog owners are to keep your dog’s water bowl clean and to give your dog bottled water that would be lower in minerals. The diet can also play an important factor. Diets that are high in minerals will cause your dog to have more iron in his tears and thereby aggravating the situation.
Some holistic herbal remedies can also help cure tear stains. A holistic veterinarian would be a good starting point if you wish to pursue this potential solution.
In some situations, the solution to tear stains will not be just one of the above suggestions but a combination approach. For example reducing the mineral content in the diet as well as regular cleaning.
Cleaning tear stains is not something that you can do in a day. For best results you need to be patient and clean your dog’s eyes very frequently. The secret is to keep your dog’s face as tear free as possible. In this way you do not allow iron containing porphyrins to accumulate on your dog’s face.
Sometimes you may feel that your dog is tearing too much. If you are constantly cleaning your dog’s eyes, especially if the dirt is like globular gunk, it may be wise to visit your vet to investigate other possible causes. Several eye infections and other ophthalmic conditions can result in yellowish / light greenish discharge. If you are uncertain better head to the vet!
In other instances the excessive tearing will still be watery and transparent. This is usually the result of a blocked tear duct. Some breeds are prone to this more than others. Whatever the discharge, the first wise thing to to is to seek professional advice from your vet. Only then you can pin point the cause and treat the tear stains accordingly.