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Tear Stains: What They Say about Your Pet’s Health

Tear Stains: What They Say about Your Pet’s Health

Tear staining occurs as a result of excess tear production, a condition known as Epiphora. They appear as red streaks under a pet’s eyes and are prevalent in some breeds, including Shih Tzu, Maltese and Lhasa Apso. 


Cats and dogs with lighter-colored coats are also susceptible to this condition. Tear staining is very normal in pets, and is could be due to normal annoying circumstances that pets find themselves in. It’s however not a condition that should be dismissed lightly as it could be an indication of more serious medical problems.

The medical causes that cause tear staining in pets

The following conditions can lead to tear stains in cats and dogs:

• Ear infection

• Ingrown eyelashes

• Extremely tiny tear duct openings

• Entropion

• Glaucoma

• Poor diet

• Teething in young dogs

• Exposure to smoke

• Unusually large tear glands

• Medications

• Plastic food bowls

• Eye infections

• Stress

Tear stains are directly or indirectly caused by porphyrins. These are iron-waste molecules produced as a result of breakdown of red blood cells. These are excreted normally, through poop. However, the case is a bit different in cats and dogs where they can also be removed from the body through body fluids (saliva, urine and tears). On light colored fur, tears containing porphyrins are likely to cause staining after a short trip outdoors on a sunny day.

If left for long, tear stains may cause yeast infections in the area under the eyes. This is evidenced by a darker brown shade of color. They are different from tear stains that contain porphyrins. Yeast infections can also produce a foul smell under your pet’s eyes.

Why do some pets show more tear staining than others?

There’s no major reason why some pets produce more tears than others. The best assumption that can be made is that bacteria levels and genetics are involved. After all, some lineages and dog breeds are more susceptible to this condition than others.

Treating tear stains safely

There’s a lot that can be done to prevent and control tear staining your pet. The most important thing you can do is to ensure that the area under the eyes is always clean. This involves gently wiping her face at least two times every day. Use a soft cloth dipped in warm water. Constant trimming of the facial hair and regular visits to a pet groomer will go a long way in curbing tear staining.

Other steps you can take to prevent and safely treat tear staining include:

• Proper diet

• Using filtered water rather than tap water for your pet

• Using stainless steel feeding bowls

• Milk thistle, chlorophyll, probiotics, olive leaves and dandelion can successfully treat tear staining

• Use colloidal silver to clean your pet’s face

If your pet is tear staining, don’t be in a hurry to dismiss it as a high tear production. Sometimes, there’s more than meets the eye. The only way to be sure is to schedule a visit to a Tarrytown, NY veterinary hospital. That way, you can rule out any possibilities of underlying medical conditions. And if there’s indeed an underlying medical condition, then it can be treated promptly.