Why Does My Dog Have Tear Stains?

Why does my dog have tear stainsDog tear stains, eye gunk, goop, or boogers, whatever you want to call it, I think we can all agree that it’s a bit unsightly. Not to mention that many dogs have no problem using their owner’s sleeve as a means to rub it off (my foster dog is included in this category).

Although no dog owner wants their cute, furry faced pooch to have tear stained fur, the truth is it’s quite common, and though it may be reason for concern, it’s certainly not always.

Sometimes a dog’s watering eyes may simply be the result of some type of foreign matter. I’m sure you’ve at some time or another had an eyelash fall into your eye, a piece of dust blown in from the wind, or even a small bug. You probably felt a slight burn as your eyes began to water. This happens to your pooch too. And just like us humans, you may see some tears coming from your dog’s eyes. Reflex tears are a normal reaction that occurs to flush out accumulated debris.

But what about when there’s something more going on? Let’s take a look…

Epiphora In Dogs – What Does It Mean?

Epiphora simply means an overflow of tears. It can be caused by many different things, but is normally due to insufficient drainage of the extra fluid (tears).

Eyes need a certain amount of tears in order to lubricate the eye, then any excess fluid drains away via the tear ducts. But, when there is any type of blockage, the excess tears have nowhere to go, which means they remain on your dog’s fur, and can also be the cause of staining.

Unfortunately, certain dog breeds are more prone to epiphora, in particular those adorable smooshed-faced breeds such as the Boxer, Pug, or Bulldog. This is normal, and just due to their facial anatomy which prevents adequate drainage of tears.

Top Causes Of Epiphora (excess tear production):

  • Allergies: Yep, just like people your dog can have allergies too. Among other things, your dog may be allergic to pollen, mold, cigarette smoke, flea bites, or dust mites and dander. A few things you can do…
  1. why-does-my-dog-have-tear-stainsWash your dog’s bedding weekly
  2. Vacuum and dust regularly in areas where your dog hangs out
  3. Use flea and tick control products
  4. Bathe your dog with hypoallergenic shampoo
  5. Ask your vet for other recommendations specific to your dog
  • Conjunctivitis (viral or bacterial): In other words, pink eye! This will cause inflammation, itchiness, and eye discharge that may be anything from clear to yellow-green. You may catch your dog pawing at his eyes, or his eyelids may stick together from the eye discharge. The treatment will vary depending on whether it’s viral or bacterial, but either way you will need to see the vet.
  • Eye injuries: Any type of eye injury could be tear-producing. Check your dog’s eye for any abnormalities…eye discharge, swollen, inflamed, distorted pupil, blood in the eye, eye mass, etc.
  • Distichia: This is an abnormal turning of the eyelashes. Basically, the eyelash grows in an abnormal direction because it is on an abnormal part of the eyelid. In some cases no treatment is required, some cases may need lubricants to protect the eye, and others may require manual removal of the eyelashes. If corneal ulcers develop, surgery may be needed to remove the eyelashes, and also to kill the hair follicles so that they don’t grow back and cause recurring issues. Your vet can advise the best treatment.
  • Entropion: Abnormal rolling-in of the upper or lower eyelid. In this case the hair on the surface of the eyelid rubs on the eyeball which can be quite painful to a dog. If severe, symptoms include excessive squinting and tearing of the eyes, but in less severe cases a dog may show no signs at all. Some of the commonly affected breeds are Chinese Shar Pei, Pug, Mastiff, Poodle, Labrador Retriever and Chow Chow.
  • Corneal Ulcers: These are wounds to the cornea, and are usually caused by some type of trauma to the eye, such as a scratch, abrasion, puncture, burn, or infection. When the cornea is injured, sensitive nerves are exposed which usually cause a dog’s eye to produce more tears than usual. There may be eye discharge, and in some cases the eyes may appear cloudy, or like there is a film over the eye. Treatment will depend on what exactly caused the ulcer in the first place.
  • Glaucoma: In this condition, pressure is placed on the eye which in turn causes inadequate fluid drainage in the eye. Unfortunately, glaucoma is the cause of blindness in many dogs so immediate attention is a must.

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Why does my dog have tear stains

How To Get Rid Of Dog Tear Stains:

There are some things we just have to live with. And, as unsightly as our dog’s eye discharge may be, there are times when the cause goes undetermined, treatment has no effect on the condition, or it becomes chronic. Mind you, most of these cases are no real cause for concern (other than the fact that you’ll have to clean your dog’s face more often!).

Keeping the fur clipped away from the eyes can help. If your dog allows you to safely get near the eye area, you can also use a tear stain remover comb to remove the gunk and crust, like this one by Petpost, click HERE.

You should wash the eye area daily. There are tear stain removers specifically for dogs, such as Mindful Pets Tear Stain Remover (for dogs with white fur), and PAWS Tear Stain Remover (for all dogs). For white fur you can also use a cream to blend away the stains such as Bio-Groom’s under eye stain cover cream.

I’ve heard that adding parsley flakes to your dog’s diet can help, however, I’ve been doing that for my white Maltese and have yet to see a difference. Admittedly, I haven’t been doing it for long so perhaps it just needs more time. It’s also possible that it could depend on the breed, cause, and severity of the issue, so it’s worth trying it out for yourself!

Why does my dog have tear stains

One Comment

  1. mark johnson April 7, 2018 Reply

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