Eye, Tear, and Urine Staining
Causes, Prevention & Treatments
Tear staining can be caused by teething, eye irritation, allergies, diet, ear infections, blocked or infected tear ducts, eye structure and genetics. In rare occasions blocked tear ducts or low grade bacterial infections in the tear ducts can cause staining. It is important to remember that 99.99% of the time tear-staining is strictly a cosmetic issue and not a medical one. With daily cleaning of the face and a few other tricks, the staining will eventually clear up. So, don’t get too upset and excited about it.
Wet facial hair caused by excess tearing is a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, specifically red yeast. It is important to keep the facial hair as day as possible and frequently wash it to help keep yeast and bacteria under control. Eliminating excess tearing is one of the best ways to stop staining.
Try to keep hair out of their eyes by either keeping the hair up in a top knot or trimming the hair around the eyes. Applying cooking cornstarch or Baby Powder cornstarch to the facial hair will help to keep it dry.
Feed a premium, high quality food without additives, food color, corn or wheat will aid in maintaining white stain-free faces. Corn and wheat are the two most common ingredients that can cause food allergies in dogs. Allergies are an inflammatory reation that can change the pH in your dogs system.
Impurities and high mineral levels in water can also cause staining. Use purified or distilled water. Using specially designed bowls or water bottles also help to keep the beard dry.
Fleas are another potential source of tear staining. Besides the irritation they cause, the feces they leave behind (which contains digested blood) can also add to the staining problem. Fleas can also carry ear mites, which can cause severe ear infections. Both fleas and ear mites require a pro-active approach to keep under control.
First, you must try to find and eliminate the source of the excess tearing and staining or it will continue to come back. Once the source has been identified (i.e. irritation, environment, diet, health, water, etc.) then the removal of the staining can begin.
What I have found works best to stop new tear staining is a 10-14 day course of an oral, low dose, broad spectrum antibiotic, such as Amoxicillin, Lincocin, Tetracycline, or Tylan. Tetracycline should only be used after the dog has cut their adult teeth as it has been shown to cause permanent yellowing to teeth which had not yet erupted. Tylan is a brand name for Tylosin, a veterinary antibiotic that is FDA approved for fowl and swine. Many Maltese breeders have found this product can also have beneficial effect in controlling new tear staining from occurring. These treatments can be repeated every 3-4 months until the staining is under control. Antibiotic eye drops can also help.
Some breeders feel that ½ a Tums (or another antacid formulated as 500mg Calcium Carbonate) given twice a day helps to change the pH of the tears, thus making the tearing a hostile environment for the growth of yeast and bacteria.
Adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to their water works a lot like Tums as it also changes the pH of the water. Start by adding a small amount to the drinking water and gradually increase the amount to get them used to the taste.
Missing Link is another product suggested. It is an all natural powder that can be mixed into their food. It is a fatty acid supplement (Omega 3) that is also good for your dog’s health.
Another is Colloidal Silver. It works much like an antibiotic and is placed in the eyes.
There are a number of products on the market that are marketed to remove staining. Some work better than others.
The MOM formula is widely used among exhibitors and it works quite well overnight. Use equal parts of Milk of Magnesia and human hair crème or gel peroxide (20 volume to 40 volume). Then add corn starch to make a paste. You can also add a few drops of Nexus KerapHix to help with conditioning. Apply it to the stained areas, work it well into the hair and leave on overnight. Wash out well the next morning. You can keep doing this for several days until tear staining is gone, although I would recommend skipping a day or two between applications. CONDITION WELL AFTERWARDS!!!
#1 All Systems makes a gel product called Whitening Gel that contains a mild bleaching agent. It is applied to the facial hair and left to dry. It takes several applications to work, but will gently help lift some staining from the hair. CONDITION WELL AFTERWARDS!!!
Crown Royale makes a product called Whitener. Mix this with human hair crème or gel peroxide (20 volume to 40 volume) into a paste and leave on overnight. It works pretty fast, but is a little harsh on the hair. CONDITION WELL AFTERWARDS!!!
Crown Royale also makes a product called Magic Touch. It is a grooming spray that comes in a couple of different formulas, #1 is best for the Maltese coat. Mix the full strength concentrate 1:1 with 2-3% medicinal hydrogen peroxide. Apply it to the stained areas with a cotton ball. This may take a week or two to show results and can also be drying. Keep it in a closed bottle. CONDITION WELL AFTERWARDS!!!
Human hair bleaches have also been used, but they are very harsh and can be extremely dangerous in the hands of someone inexperienced. I would not recommend using them.
A couple of my favorite hair conditioners are Matrix Conditioning Balm, Joico K-Pac, and Nexus KerapHix.
CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION!!! The 40 volume crème or gel human hair peroxide works faster than the 20 volume, but they both can cause damage to the hair.
It is not unusual for white dogs to have yellow or brownish staining around their hind quarters and feet caused from urine, mud, and other things. A good formula to remove this discoloration is a mixture of 50% liquid Woolite and 50% human crème or gel 20 volume hair peroxide. Then dilute this mixture with 50% distilled water and add a little conditioning shampoo. Shampoo this mixture into the stained areas and let set on the hair for 3 to 5 minutes. Wash out, shampoo again, rinse and then condition as normal.