How to Remove Red Tear Stains From A White Dog
Tear-stains are reddish-brown stains that develop below the eyes of white or light-colored dogs. Not just cosmetic, the area affected by tear-stains can harbor foul-smelling bacteria. The constant moisture can cause redness/irritation and pain for your dog. Most treatments take some time to have a noticeable improvement, so remember to try something new for at least a month before ditching it.
The Real Villain
Opinions vary greatly on the cause of tear-stains. They're generally caused by infection, improperly formed tear ducts, diet, water quality, poor grooming, genetics, or any combination of the above. By ruling out causes and trying different solutions, your pet can be clear-eyed and beautiful again.
Eye or even ear infection can cause the staining. It's best to have your vet check to rule out an easily treated infection before taking steps that may worsen the condition.
Maybe she's born with it?
Most vets checking complaints of tear-stains are quick to recommend surgery to open blocked tear ducts or irrigate them. I would never suggest disregarding vet recommendations, but it is my personal belief that surgery should be a last resort and other possible causes should be first eliminated.
Erase the Evidence!
If your dog has long hair, like a maltese or bichon frise, take your dog to an experienced groomer (help in choosing a new groomer in a previous article) to have the area around the eyes trimmed very close. Old, stained hair may be hard to lighten and it's easier to start with a fresh surface. Once trimmed, keep the area clean by wiping gently with warm water and cotton gauze at the first signs of tear secretions. If you have a short-haired breed like a bulldog or a dalmation, skip the trim and just keep the area clean.
Doggy Dinner - Featuring New and Improved Tear-Stain Production!
I always stress the importance of a dog's diet because your dog is limited by the vitamins and proteins you choose for him. Try at least to switch (slowly and gradually) to a food without artificial colors and preservatives. Some dogs may also have tear-stains as an allergic reaction to something in their food. Ask your vet to check for signs of food allergy before making any definitive assumptions.
Does Drinking Kool-Aid Cause Tear Stains?
Well, no, Kool-Aid doesn't really change hair color, but the water your dog drinks might. High levels of minerals commonly found in tap water are safe and beneficial for human consumption, but often too much for dogs (especially the littlest ones). Switch your dog to bottled, distilled, or filtered water could make all the difference. This solution, along with the food change solution, may take about a month to really show a difference.
I've bought, sold, and heard about dozens of store-bought or even at-home remedies for tear-stains. The only product I've ever seen work was Angel Eyes. A bichon frise client had chronic tear stains covering most of his face for his entire life. After 3 weeks on Angels' Eyes, I trimmed away all the old and stained hair, and he looked like a perfect little bichon. I've heard other treatments may work, but this product is the only one I have actually witnessed to be 100% effective. This product claims to work "from the outside in".
Keeping your dog's tear-stains under control can be difficult, but there are many options and many solutions. With a little patience and time, your dog can smile into the mirror without the unsightly marking of tear-stains.
Happy hairdays, everyone!