Tear staining is caused by excessive tearing. What causes the excessive tearing is what needs to be found out or the problem may always persist.
When the area around the eyes stays moist due to excessive tearing, red yeast bacteria start to develop into the staining you see. The causes of excessive tearing can be many and varied, including but not limited to genetics, health, diet, fleas, bacterial infection, ear infections, cutting teeth (in puppies), irritation, high mineral content in the dog’s drinking water, blocked tear ducts, etc. It is important that your dog’s vet determine the cause(s) of the excessive tearing before directing you in any methods of trying to cure the issue.
The red stains are caused by a red yeast growing on the moist hair. By changing the pH of your dogs body, it makes a hostile environment for the yeast to grow. 1/2 tablet of tums once a day will make tears alkaline or 1/2 cap of apple cider vinegar in water to drink will make them acidic. Either may work however your dog may not like the small of apple cider vinegar in his drinking water, so it’s whatever works for your dog.
The next thing is diet, use a good quality premium high grade dog food, if your not sure look on the net and do some research there have been a few documentaries on recently comparing the qualities of dog food and brands which is very interesting. There are also various uk websites that have forums and you may be surprised at which foods have more money spent in advertising to make you think they are great when in actual fact they are not! Generally a good food will be high in protein will not have additives like colours (dogs can’t often distinguish the colours so it’s just for human aesthetics) salt, grains, lots of unnatural additives and high carbohydrates that are in the lower grade foods.
Some of the good ones that are well rated and have good clean food in the mix include eden, natures diet, james well beloved the list goes on etc. There are so many pet food providers it’s better to do your own research and make your mind up.
I have done lots of research looking at other peoples methods and read lots of dog forums on this topic and using distilled water or filtered water for the dogs water bowl which seems to help reduce the problem. Distilled water principle might be successful because it reduces the trace elements of iron in the body and thus there is less to become oxidised in the tears. People have also commented on when the water filter needs changing tear staining becomes more apparent which proves this method was working!
Warm damp fur under the eyes is an ideal breeding place for the bacteria to multiply, this bacteria provides one of the compounds required for the formation of the enzyme necessary for the yeast to grow. Also the bone structure of the dogs face, and frequency of tearing, means that the tears may congregate in one area rather than falling off. If it were possible to dry the fur instantly then there would be no staining- unfortunately this is not practical however wiping your dogs face 2 or 3 times daily to remove the build up can really help. Keeping the dogs eye hair trimmed back can also help however this must be kept short otherwise when the hair grows back it sticks into the eye and causes more of a problem than having it long.
I get the impression that the level of staining has increased over the years as the food that our dogs increasingly becomes heavily processed. This would explain the success of dogs on the raw diets such as the BARF diet.
The tylosin based eye cleaning products and supplements such as angels eyes and angels glow work by killing the bacteria in the tears and saliva. kill the bacteria and the chain of nutrients needed for the formation of the red yeast is broken.
Whilst these products are illegal in most of the world outside of North America it does not mean that do not work. Tylosin is a narrow spectrum antibiotic that kills a select range of bacteria. It IS safe for dogs but can be fatal to some animals such as horses- it messes with the bacteria in their gut and stops them processing their food properly, so that’s something to consider when looking at products. If it was a human you would probably asking the same question would you want to be on antibiotics all of the time… No thanks!
As an extension of the diet theory I have have researched angels delight a dog food supplement. the principle is that if you can oxidise the iron particles in the body before they are secreted in the tears you end up breaking the nutrient chain for the red yeast again. It does this by using a bucket load of dried foodstuffs and vitamins.
As a tear stain preventer people have reported it works as well as the antibiotic based products but can take longer to start working. It is supposed to be holistic and thus help with other problems that i have never heard of? Also I’ve heard if people using nature vet which again is a food supplement doing the same job.
I guess in this day and age so many of our food sources have been processed and had things adding to them etc unless you strip everything back to a natural diet (meaning organic as things like chicken contain a lot of antibiotics which are then passed on when the meat is consumed) it’s hard to say what your dog might be allergic too. I have heard lots of positive comments on people who home cooked their dogs food including meat,rice and veggies, they say the tear staining has gone. If you want to go all out on the organic feeding if you think it’s food that’s causing the problem then I researched a company called Honeys which provide and can deliver organic raw foods and treats, it maybe a little more expensive than making up your own Barf diet but can make things easy until you know what variety to feed.
So ignoring any of the pastes and wipes which seem to work for some and not others we are left with two options: kill the bacteria or oxidise the iron in the body- ie drugs or diet- both are safe and eventually one or the other will work.
Hope this helps if anybody reads this blog and try’s some of the methods out I’d be really interested to know the outcome.