Tear Stains

Information for cats and dogs with tear stains and drainage from under their eyes.

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  1. What are Tear Stains?
  2. What Causes Tear Stains?
  3. Help for Tear Stains
  4. More Information on Tear Stains

What are Tear Stains?

Many dogs and cats with light colored skin coats frequently experience tear stains. You may notice prominent brown or pink stains on the skin under the inside corner of the eye area. This is caused by an overflow of tears which runs onto the cheeks resulting in a dark, unsightly stain.

Humans have a natural drainage system to drain excess tears through the nasal passage while in animals, tears drain out through small ducts in the eyelids. However, in some animals these ducts are blocked and as a result the tears flow over the eyelids and settle on the face. Very often when the skin and hair react with the tears, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that may cause an eye infection.

What Causes Tear Stains?

There are a number of reasons why your pet may develop tear stains and these include blocked tear ducts, abnormal drainage system, inflammation of the eye, bacterial infections such as red yeast, irritants and allergies.

Certain dog and cat breeds are more prone to tear stains, particularly those with prominent eyes. In cats, Persians and Himalayans often experience this problem while in dogs, Shih-Tzu, Poodles, Lhasa Apso, Bichon Frise, and Shar-peis are predisposed to tear stains.

Help for Tear Stains

Very often when tears build up on the facial, irritation and infection occurs and also causes matting of the hair. Your vet will prescribe an antibiotic ointment to protect the eye as well as tear stain removal products.

It is very important to keep the area around the eye clean and prevent an infection from developing, especially when crusts begin to accumulate. Trim the hair beneath the eye carefully and remember to be gentle! In more serious cases, surgery may also be performed.

More Information on Tear Stains

Tips to prevent tear stains in your pet

There are a number of things that you can do to prevent tear stains in your pet and maintain overall eye health:

  • Keep the area around the eyes clean by wiping tear stains away with a moist cloth and natural tear stain remover
  • Trim hair around the eye area to avoid eye irritation
  • Avoid exposing your pet to irritants such as pollen, plant seeds, toxins, chemicals, pollution and dust
  • Check your pet’s eyes regularly
  • Protect your pet’s eye carefully when using shampoo or applying flea repellents
  • Keep your pet’s head inside moving vehicles as foreign objects or substances may easily become lodged in the eye
  • Visit your vet annually for an eye examination
  • Keep your pet away from potentially dangerous situations such as fighting with other animals