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 dry 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 trimming the hair around the eyes. Apply cornstarch or Baby Powder cornstarch to the facial hair below the eyes will help to keep it dry.
Feed a premium, high quality food without additives, food color, corn or wheat will aid in maintaining stain-free faces. Corn and wheat are the two most common ingredients that can cause food allergies in dogs. Allergies are an inflammatory reaction 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 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.
We have found what works best to stop tear staining is a 10-14 day course of an oral, low dose, broad spectrum antibiotic. See your vet for their recommendation. 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. Antibiotic eye drops can also help. 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 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. A couple of my favorite hair conditioners are Matrix Conditioning Balm, Joico K-Pac, and Nexus KerapHix.