Have you ever noticed dark brown or reddish-brown marks appearing underneath your dog’s eyes? These mars are known as dog tear stains and are very normal. Nevertheless, many owners dislike the way that they make their furry best friend look. The good news is that they can be removed fairly easily and naturally with the right products.
What causes dog tear stains?
Dog tear stains are caused by the excessive production of tears. This condition is called epiphora. Tear film is a natural substance produced by the eyes to keep them hydrated, able to move around comfortably and to improve the clarity of vision. Both humans and dogs produce tear film. Normally your dog’s tears will drain through the eyelid and into an area called the nasolacrimal duct, after which, they empty into their nose. However, when your dog has excess tear film, there can be too much to drain this way and so instead, it escapes out of the inner corners of the eyes and down your doggo’s face.
Dogs with long hair around their eyes are more likely to develop tear staining. This is because the hair can rub the surface of their eyes and cause irritation and watering. Similarly, an accumulation of dirt or debris in and around the eyes can cause them to water. Tear stains can affect all breeds of dog, but they are most visible and therefore it is a more common problem seen on white and light-coloured breeds.
Other causes of tear staining include:
- Eye infections
- Ingrown eyelash
- Ear infection
- Large tear glands
Tear staining can appear in shades of pink, red, purple and brown. This is because a red pigment found in tears build up under the eyes. However, stains that are brownish or rust coloured could be the result of a yeast infection on the skin under the eyes that is able to thrive due to the constant moisture from tears building up on the skin. They can be accompanied by discharge, but not always.
How to remove dog tear stains
There is no simple answer to removing dog stains, but there are plenty of products which can help. These range from facial wipes and eye washes to safe and gentle stain remover gels. You should ensure that you always follow the instructions provided with any pet product, including those designed to help remove dog tear stains.
Espree has some great products for keeping the eyes and area around your dog's eyes clean. are one great solution for cleaning away tear stains safely. If your dog requires cleaning around their eyes is a gentle cleanser safe to use on dog eyes.
Do NOT use human make-up remover, topical vinegar or any chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide anywhere near your dog’s eyes. Not only are they ineffective, but if even a drop comes into contact with the surface of your canine’s eyes, they could cause severe pain and permanent damage to their vision.
Preventing dog tear stains in the future
Preventing future tear staining really depends on the cause of your dog’s excess tear film. Identifying the cause can help give you and your vet some direction as to how to try and keep it under control going forwards. For example, if your waggy-tailed companion has an eye infection, medication from your vet may be enough to stop tear staining becoming an issue in the future.
One of the best ways of preventing dog tear stains in the future is to make sure that your furbaby’s eyes are as clean as possible. Check them daily, making sure that there are no signs of discharge or other abnormalities. If there is anything unusual, speak to your vet as soon as you can. If there is any dirt around your dog’s eyes, use clean, cool boiled water and a clean cloth (not cotton pads) to gently wipe the area.
You should also keep the fur around your pooch’s eyes trimmed short to prevent it growing inwards and causing irritation. Understandably, many owners are nervous about this task, and nobody should attempt to trim any hair anywhere on their dog’s body unless they are 100% confident. For this reason, most choose to employ the services of a professional groomer who has the skill and experience to do this on your behalf.
Check out your dog’s diet and drinking water too. Good quality feed is essential for your furbaby to be in optimal health, while low-nutrition options tend to be backed with fillers and artificial colours and flavours which could be making your dog’s tear film issues worse. Many vets also believe that drinking some types of tap water can also contribute towards tear stain development. This is because tap water usually contains iron and magnesium – two substances that can cause a substance called porphyrin to build up in your dog’s body. Porphyrin is an iron-containing molecule which can be excreted through the tears. Large amounts of porphyrin can cause your dog’s tear film to become brown and stain their coat when they are excreted.
If you still have concerns about dog tear staining, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment to discuss your worries with your veterinarian.