Tear staining is the topic of 50% of my emails. No one likes the look of that dark staining on their precious baby white face. Tear staining is not a subject that has a quick fix.
This is written as my opinion and should not be taken as gospel, it is not meant as a way to avoid going to a vet or seeking professional diagnoses.
REASONS FOR TEAR STAINING – genetics, bacterial infection in eyes or ears, clogged tear duct, drinking from a bowl, yeast infection, allergies, poor hygiene, health issues, and over tear production.
Genetics – Some lines have habitual staining and I tend to steer clear of these lines. Pay attention to the line of dog you buy. If the parents faces are stained and your new puppy has a white face, chances are your puppy will be stained in no time.
Bacterial infection – If your dog has severe staining and it just never seems to get better. Your dog might have gooey stuff coming from his eyes. Your vet is the only one who can tell you if your dog has a bacterial infection. A course of antibiotics may be needed.
Clogged tear duct – Eyes are a very serious matter so if you think your dog has something going on with the eyes see a vet ASAP. If your dog has a history of the tear duct getting clogged you should was his eyes every day with a face wipe for dogs or a warm cloth, gently massaging the area under the eye where the tear duct is.
Over tear production can be caused by many things. In young dogs it is most likely caused by teething. It can also be caused by lashes laying on the eye. Some breeds like SHih Tzu are very hairy and hairs getting in the eyeball are not uncommon. You can pull the hairs out of the corner of their eye and just luck them out with your fingers. There is a laser surgery for this but they will grow back. Maybe a little slower but your fingers are much cheaper and if you make it a part of regular grooming, your dog will tank you. Sometimes if the top lashes get to long they will continually drag in the dogs eyes. Another common grooming habit is to cut the lashes off. Some dogs are worse than others.
ALLERGIES – oh the dreaded word with Shih Tzu. Honestly most Shih tzu suffer from seasonal allergies just like we do. (Im not talking about allergies where they chew their skin and itch until they bleed) At times when pollen is high and you are feeling a bit stuffy and teary eyed, your dog is most likely experiencing the same thing. They cannot tell us and they don’t complain so many times it goes unnoticed. This is when you notice staining at the corners of the mouth as well.
DRINKING FROM A BOWL – When your dog drinks from a bowl the water sits on the face furnishings. As with anything when water sits weird funky things start growing in it. One this is red yeast. Red yeast will stain the face.
POOR HYGENE – If hair is allowed to grow on the dog without trims it will lay on the eye and cause over tear production and discomfort to your dog, eventually causing an ulcer and many other issues with the eye. If you cannot groom your dog, make sure you get him or her to a groomer every six weeks to maintain the face hairs.
HEALTH ISSUES – The only time in Bailley’s life she was stained was in the throws of her Cushings not being under control. Persistent face staining can be a sign that something is seriously wrong with your dogs immune system. Her face staining concerned me terribly and I was on the verge of telling myself, that is what happens when dogs get old. NO, its not! An older dog can and should have just as white a face as they did when they were young.
THE CURE – A NEW WAY OF LIFE
As I said before, there is no quick cure once your dogs face is stained. Bottled water, boric acid and cornstarch, adding buttermilk to the bottle, adding vinegar, none of these thing prevent tear staining. I have been showing and breeding Shih Tzu for 15 years and I have tried it all. Every dog in my home has a white face. I think I may have figured it out. Here are my suggestions.
Buy a dog from a line that does not present heavy tear staining. I do believe with every part of my being that some lines are predisposed to this. Some breeders do not seem to understand this and they keep breeding off the same lines thinking its a fact of life and they need to be more diligent in their treatments. The being said, environmental factors lay a big role as well.
If you visit your vet on a regular basis and have a CBC blood panel done every year, normally you can rule out health issues. If you notice staining and blood has not be done within a year, I suggest having it done just to be certain there are no underlying causes. If there is an issue your vet will treat the underlying cause. Sometimes a course of antibiotic will do the trick.
Get a water bottle and train your dog to use it. Use peanut butter or cream cheese to lure your dog to the water. Some dogs are harder than others but most adapt within a day or two.
If allergies are present that can sometimes cause a small infection in ears, clogged tear duct, sinus infection, etc. just like in humans. Sometimes I will use a product called Tylan. It comes in a powder and can usually only be bought is large quantities. Tylan is the main ingredient in Angel Eyes, which most people have heard of. Tylan is a low grade antibiotic used in farm animals. I will only use this product for about two weeks and normally that is enough time to get rid of the funk. I put the powder in their water. I add what I would equate to about 1/16 a tsp. There are measuring spoons sold in pinch, dash and smidge. I put a pinch in a 32 – 44 oz bottle and a smidge in anything smaller.
DO NOT GIVE TYLAN TO PUPPIES. Tylan will effect new teeth emerging. It is very tempting at this age to use a quick fix , it is not uncommon for puppies to stain while they are teething. This is when you use other methods. Which brings us to clogged tear ducts. This can happen in adults as well as puppies but puppies do tend to have more issues with it. You can massage the area under the eye where the ducts are twice a day to prevent as well as treat this issue.
I use #1 All Systems White Lightening shampoo on EVERY dog I have in my possession, every time I bath. This includes dogs I groom, dogs who have lived with me for 15+ years, show dogs and boarders. I have been doing this for about 10 years and I have never noticed breakage or dry over processed hair due to the use of this product.
Feed a high quality food. Normally a fish based food is best for dogs who have issues with staining.
Keep your dog groomed. Make sure there is no hair laying in or on the eye. When you groom you can gently rub your finger under or at the corner of the eye and bring any hairs off the eye ball. You can pluck these hairs with your fingers and it will help. Shih Tzu are hairy dogs and hair is a constant issue. There is not a Shih Tzu on the planet who has not had hair grow in their eyes at some point or another. It is part of the breed and if you own one diligence will help prevent problems.
If allergies are a problem I will use a 25mg Zyrtec