Read Our Free Tear Stain Book
Read Our Free E Book
Table Of Contents
Part One What Causes Tear Staining
Part Two Medical Causes
Part Three Food and Environment
Part Four How To Get Rid Of It
Fair use info/educational purposes
The information provided here is meant for encouragement and education. We have used a variety of sources in our research as well as many years of personal experience. Please consult a veterinarian regarding any medical questions or concerns.
What Causes Tear Staining
Tear Staining is a major concern for owners of light coated breeds of Cats and Dogs. Any dog can have an issue with tear staining. No dog is immune to this problem. Tear Staining is the red/brown discoloration that can usually be found on a dog under the eyes and around the mouth. It can also be found on the feet and elsewhere.
We can also see these tear stains in cats, most commonly in Persians. In both dogs and cats, this is a common cosmetic problem caused by an overflow of tears onto the cheeks
Tear Staining can have various sources or triggers, such as porphyrins, food additives ingredients and or additives, minerals such as iron in the water they drink, bacteria, allergies, environmental irritants such as perfumes or cigarette smoke, teething as well as genetics and medical issues such as infections.
Let’s look at these in more depth.
Porphyrins are naturally occurring molecules containing iron – waste products from the breakdown of red blood cells – They typically exit the body through waste. Porphyrin can also be excreted through tears, saliva, and urine. When tears and saliva containing porphyrins sit on light-colored fur for any period of time, staining will occur. This is why you might see staining on hair other than just below the eyes.
This is also why dog sometimes have discolored hair if they have a habit of licking themselves excessively.
When these porphyrin molecules remain on a white coat for any length of time, stains result. This happens in dark coated dogs, but you cannot see the stains. Stains often darken in the presence of sunlight creating an unsightly red mess.
Dr. Becker/Healthypets website states:
Now, if the stains are more of a brown color than rust colored, it’s likely your pet has developed a yeast infection on her face because the fur under her eyes is constantly wet with tears. Brown stains from a yeast infection are different from red staining caused by porphyrins. This can be important to know if you’re trying to resolve brown stains with a product intended for red stains, or vice versa. Yeast infections are also odiferous, so if your pet’s face smells, think yeast. Pets can also have both a porphyrin stained face and a secondary yeast infection from the constantly moist skin.
To confuse matters further, currently, we can only guess at why some dogs make more porphyrin than others (and therefore have more tear staining). We can assume genetics and innate bacterial levels are involved, because certain breeds and lineages can be more prone to staining. But I have seen excessive porphyrin production in incredibly healthy animals eating a clean diet of organic, fresh food with no environmental toxin exposure (including vaccines).
As we mentioned in the beginning, any pet can have tear staining or even develop it after years of having never had a problem with it.
In normal animals, tears are constantly produced and drain out through small ducts in the eyelids. The ducts empty into the nose. (That is why your nose runs when you cry.) In animals with blocked ducts, the tears overflow the lids and run down the face.
There are several medical conditions to consider as they relate to tear production and staining.
In an article on Web/MD we see a good listing of several of the main medical causes.
- What causes tear stains under a dog’s eyes?
Excessive tearing can occur as a result of irritation to your dog’s eyes or because your dog’s tears are not draining properly.
Just as your eye waters if a speck of dust blows into it, dogs’ eyes will make tears when irritated to flush away anything harmful. When the eyes are continually irritated, this can lead to chronic tearing that produces stains. Conditions that might irritate the eye include dog eye infections, glaucoma, and eyelash or eyelid problems.
In a normal dog eye, there are small holes that drain tears away from the eye and down the throat. A variety of dog eye problems can affect this drainage, causing excessively watery eyes. These conditions include:
- Shallow eye sockets. If the eye sockets aren’t big or deep enough, tears can spill out onto the fur around the eyes.
- Eyelids that are turned inward. If the eyelids roll in toward the eyeball, the drainage holes for tears (called puncta) may become blocked.
- Hair growth around the eye. If hair grows too close to the eye, it can wick tears away from the eye and onto the face.
- Blocked tear drainage holes (puncta). Previous dog eye infections or eye damage can cause scar tissue to form that blocks some of the drainage passages for tears.
- Which types or breeds of dogs are more susceptible to dog eye discharge and tear stains?
Regardless of breed, white dogs are more likely to have visible tear staining on their faces, because the pigments in their tears can easily dye light-colored fur. Also, dogs with long hair on their faces may be more prone to excessive tearing.
Short-nosed dog breeds, such as Shih-tzu, Pekingese, Maltese, and pug, are prone to excessive tearing because they often have shallow eye sockets or hair growth in skin folds around the eyes that cause problems. Also, cocker spaniels and poodles are more likely than other breeds to have blocked tear ducts.
Add to this list, teething. Puppies will very likely experience excessive tearing during teething which may result in staining.
To help maintain healthy eyes in your pet, check the eyes on a regular basis, keep the area around them clean, and when in the car, roll the window high enough to prevent your pet from getting his head out of the window. Because your pet's eyes are so important, consult your veterinarian if you suspect any type of eye infection or if you have questions or suspect a medical issue concerning your pets staining.
Food and Environment
Environmental Irritants that cause allergies:
Dust, pollutants, perfumes and cigarette smoke, can definitely be a factor in causing irritation or allergies.
Another environmental factor that is commonly blamed for tear staining in dogs is allergies. Dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies and irritants like pollen just as humans. Vaccinations and medications can be a causative or additive factor to allergies.
Many municipal systems as well as wells can have water that contains high mineral content which can certainly contribute to staining problems. It is best to use filtered or bottled water to eliminate this as a cause.
Food ingredients, additives and dyes:
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the ingredients in poor quality and even many “higher quality” foods can cause or contribute to tear staining. Many of the foods that claim to be of superior quality still use ingredients from the “pet quality” food suppliers. It is important to use a food, supplements and treats that only use human grade ingredients.
One food we can recommend is Lifes Abundance . It is a product we are very familiar with. It was developed by a holistic vet and is made in small batches, never warehoused with suppliers or in stores.
It can be ordered at lifesabundance.com/alwaysmaltese
The very same thing holds true for supplements. The overall health of your pet is critical for a variety of reasons. Resistance to infection and disease is among them. We recommend a supplement which we have used for many years. It is made in human grade production labs with all human grade ingredients. It can be ordered at: nuvet.com/53306
You can email us about any product recommendations: email@example.com
Keeping their environment clean
It is best to use non plastic bowls for their food and water. Ceramic or stainless steel are best. Many breeders train their puppies and adults to use water bottles. This is to keep the water fresh and also to keep the faces dryer. Wash dishes and bottles frequently. They can be disinfected with a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner and then washed with dishwashing liquid.
Here are several other key environmental tips:
Using filtered or distilled water.
Using ionizers in the rooms with pets for air purity, good ventilation as well. Be sure to keep heating and air-conditioning filters clean
Exposure to sunshine is important. Clean fresh air is healthy for everyone, Pets included.
Using non chemical cleaners such as hydrogen peroxide based pet cleaners is a great way to have a safe and healthy environment. Keep pets bedding and any clothing clean as well.
How To Get Rid Of It
Tear Stain Treatment:
There are a myriad of treatment options many of which do not help at all and several that can be dangerous. Here is some recent news concerning several popular internal treatments that have been removed from the market.
In August of this year, the FDA sent a letter of warning to three manufacturers of tearstain removal products.1 The reason? They contain the antibiotic tylosin tartrate, which is not approved for use in dogs or cats, or for the treatment of tearstain-related conditions.
The companies receiving the letters included the makers of Angels’ Eyes, Angels’ Glow, Pets’ Spark, and two exported products, Glow Groom and Health Glow. One or more of these products may be familiar to you if you’ve ever had a pet with tear staining – though you may not have been aware they contain an antibiotic.
The FDA has warned that if the products remain on the market, the agency may seize them or file an injunction against the manufacturers. Tylosin tartrate is approved by the FDA for use in livestock, but not in dogs and cats except when prescribed by a veterinarian.
It is very important to use a product that is all natural and topical. Your vet can prescribe a course of antibiotics if necessary but you do not want any product to contain antibiotics which did not come from the Vet.
As Maltese breeders www.alwaysmaltese.com We have spent many years breeding to prevent the tendency toward excessive tearstaining from our line. We also have developed many recommendations for environmental issues we use here with our Maltese and recommended to our new families.
None the less, tear staining can be a concern for any Maltese. Puppies have a tendency to have some while teething and adults even if they have not previously had a problem can have staining occur suddenly.
We have tried many products over the years and found only limited results. Determined to find a safe solution we developed an all natural product that we use for ourselves. It addresses yeast, bacteria, porphyrins it is also is a cleanser and lightens the stains very well. It is applied topically. It can be used safely on a regular basis and contains no bleach, peroxides, antibiotics or steroids. It is made from all human grade natural ingredients.
Best of all it works, works well and works better than anything we have tried before.
We have received so many inquiries as to how we keep our Maltese so clean and white. We have decided to make it available to everyone. We call it
Always Bright Eyes.
It is now available on Our website:
Always Bright Eyes contains no bleach, peroxides or harsh chemicals. Always Bright Eyes acts as a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial to treat the source of the stains and has natural drying and lightening agents that remove the unsightly stains.
Always Bright Eyes is a 2 step system.
The first step is cleansing under the eye with the all natural liquid which contains an all natural herbal formula that works to eliminate bacteria and yeast at its source. While lightening, one of the ingredients also works as a mild toner, to tone down the yellowing on the fur that goes along with tear staining.
The second step is an all natural powder which helps keep the eye area dry and prevents re-growth of the bacteria that can cause the staining. The powder contains two unique drying agents that work together to dry, exfoliate and lighten the area under the eye. An all natural herbal ingredient which has antibacterial properties helps to prevent bacterial growth.
Always Bright Eyes is available as a complete set.
The set includes the 2 oz. size of powder and the 4oz. size of liquid as well as an application brush for the liquid and a natural goat hair application brush for the powder.
Purchase Always Bright Eyes
We really hope this information has been a help to you. Tear stain is an ongoing problem for light coated pets and there has always seemed to be a real lack of a product that genuinely works.
Always Bright Eyes is the culmination of 20 years of experience breeding Maltese by Alan and Veronica Fawcett AKA Always Maltese.
The years of practical hands on experience of trying one product after another led us to develop our own products for grooming that just work better.
The resulting tear stain remover we developed keeps to our "all natural" approach to raising Maltese and grooming them.
( We will be releasing several of our other grooming products in the near future.)
We hope you try Always Bright Eyes to help with any tear staining issues you may have.
Be sure to visit our websites:
We would love to hear from you as well.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Always Bright Eyes is: Topically applied not ingested. Made with natural human-grade ingredients. Non-irritating Safe and easy to use. Safe for kittens and puppies. Works for all light coated breeds!
American Maltese Association
Dr Foster and Smith