The Well Dog Place

Dr. Ken Tudor Holistic Veterinarian

Dog tear stain being checked by veterinarian. Some dog breeds are more prone to problems.

Basic Dog Care 16 | Tear Staining (Part 1)

Do you have a dog that needs continual cleaning under the inside corner of the eyes, next to the nose? Do crusts sometimes form and cause irritation to the skin in that area? This is a common problem, especially for some breeds. 

For lighter color dogs, the brown staining is prominent and causes many owners great anxiety. They desperately seek a cure for the problem. More important is to find the cause of the excessive tearing and staining rather than “cosmetic band-aid” treatments.

Dog Breeds with Tear Staining

Smaller breed dogs seem to be the worst afflicted with this problem. The “flat-faced” breeds with bulgy eyes are particularly prone. The skin folds around their flat noses become inflamed and quite painful. Some common breeds with tear staining are:

  • Poodle
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pug
  • Boston Bull Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Maltese
  • Bichon Frise
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pekingese

What Causes Tear Staining?

The brownish stain under the eyes and next to the nose is caused by the oxidation of excessive tearing. Normally tears enter tear ducts at openings near the inside corner of the eyes and drain into the nose. Our tear system works exactly the same way. That is why we have to blow our noses when we cry.

If tear production exceeds the draining capacity of the tear ducts, the tears spill over the eyelid and roll down along the nose. Blockage or inadequate tear duct openings will also cause tears to spill over the eyelids. Causes for these problems include:

  • Irritation to the eye
Ingrown eyelashes or growths on the eyelids that constantly rub the eye increases tear production. Although not as common, allergy irritation to the eye also increases tears.
  • Shallow eye sockets with bulging eyes
This is a common problem in flat-faced breeds. The pressure of the eye to the eyelid “pinches” the tear duct and its opening.
  • Eyelids that are turned inward against the eye. 
This genetic birth defect is called “entropion.” The inward eyelid tuck can cause the eyelashes to irritate the eye and increase tear production while occluding the tear duct at the same time.
  • Blocked tear duct opening
Infections or damage to or around the eye can cause scarring that blocks the tear duct opening.
  • Genetic failure tear duct development
Some of the breeds listed inherit genetic defects that result in a lack of an adequate tear duct system to develop.

See part 2 of tear staining, diagnosing and treating tear staining in dogs.

Ken Tudor DVM
Dr. Ken Tudor, Holistic Veterinarian

Dr. Ken Tudor is a recognized expert and leader in the field of pet nutrition and fitness. He has developed a pet weight management program and served on the American Animal Hospital Association task force to develop their Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. He is also a frequent guest on the Pet World Insider radio show and a popular guest on the televised Pet Ex Talks-Pet Experts Empowering Pet Parents show.

Basic Dog Care 16 | Tear Staining  (Part 1)

Basic Dog Care

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