If you have the pleasure of owning a lighter colored or white canine, chances are- you have had a run in with dog tear stains. You have probably even wondered why they happen and whether or not there is any way to stop them from happening. Here, we are going to take a look at what dog tear stains are, why they happen, and some natural ways to take care of them.
What are tear stains?
The medical term for tear stains is “epiphora”- which actually stands for “watery eyes.” No matter how happy a pup is, tear stains can unfortunately create an expression of chronic sadness- which no owner likes to see on their furbaby. Just like humans, canines have tears are that are useful for lubricating the eyeballs. The excess eye fluid from the tears tend to drain into the lacrimal (tear) ducts on either side of their nose. Those ducts will then drain the tears towards the back of the nose and down the throat. However, some canines may have ducts that don’t work or flow properly, which can result in the excess fluid dripping down the face. This can lead to tear stains and dampness under the eyes.
What causes dog tear stains?
Tear stains can be caused by multiple different factors. Some can stem from seasonal allergies. Than others can be created from plugged or misshaped tear ducts. On more serious occasions, excess tears can be a sign of injury, infections, glaucoma or conjunctivitis. A visit to your veterinarian or an animal ophthalmologist can help you to determine which cause may be the culprit.
Why are dog tear stains a rusty color?
Unlike humans, animal tears are not clear. The tears of an animal tend to contain waste products from the breakdown of red blood cells. Therefore, their tears carry a naturally occurring molecule that contains iron. These are called porphyrins. The iron within the porphyrins is what causes the tears to be a brownish rust color.
Ways to prevent dog tear stains.
No matter how many times you try to wipe away the tear stains of a tear stained prone pup, you won’t be able to prevent them from happening until you locate the source. The best way to narrow down the culprit is to take a look at a few different factors.
- Check your dog’s water and food. If you live in an area with hard water, your dog may be ingesting more minerals than necessary. Consider switching to pure filtered water and see if that makes a difference in the frequency of tear stains. When it comes to their food, some brands tend to contain lots of cheap fillers, additives, artificial colors and animal by-products. These can lead to an overload of access chemicals which can worsen the frequency of tear stains. Double check the ingredients and consider trying a more natural option.
- Check your dog’s pH balance. Holistic studies have shown that altering your pup’s acidity level can sometimes alleviate the onset of tear stains. You could try incorporating a small amount of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your dog’s water each day. Be sure to use an ACV that contains “mother” as it will provide far more nutrients, enzymes and proteins than a regular vinegar. You only want to use very small amounts as larger doses can lead to esophageal irritation.
- Keep the eye area well trimmed and clean. If you have a pup that is very furry or fluffy around the eye region, you may want to incorporate a gentle trim or consistent cleaning routine of the eye area. By keeping the hair trimmed down, you can reduce the onset of crusty buildup. A warm, damp washcloth can also be used to slowly stroke the area clean on a daily basis.
Remember, double check with your veterinarian to determine the source of those pesky tear stains. From there, with some minor adjustments and a soft daily cleaning regime, you can help alleviate the symptoms and effects of doggy tear stains.