Bothered by tear staining on your dog’s face?

Seems that somebody is always asking us as vets for some way to remove or prevent the moist brown streaks that tend to form along the nose near the eyes of certain dogs.  Small breed dogs, dogs with light colored or white hair coats and dogs with wrinkly skin or skin folds are most commonly affected. 

Typically, this is mostly a cosmetic problem, but not always. Before you embark on any treatment please be sure to have your dog examined by your veterinarian for any of the various medical problems that can cause tear staining.  Sometimes tear staining can be caused by blocked tear ducts, eyelash malformations, allergy, dry eyes, glaucoma or conjunctivitis, and so on.  Basically, anything that causes increased tear production or poor or inefficient tear drainage can cause tear staining.  Some of these causes are serious and most can only be effectively treated by a licensed veterinarian.

Setting medical concerns aside for the moment, there are many dogs that have a facial conformation that simply results in increased tear staining. These kinds of problems are usually not fully correctable. Tear staining is likely to be a long term problem for these dogs.For dogs in the uncorrectable group, here are 12 treatments that have been said to work for cosmetic facial tear staining. We haven’t tried all of them on dogs ourselves.  Also, the fact that so many treatments have been suggested over the years makes me suspect that no one treatment works in every case.

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1. Cleaning & Hygiene – Twice-a-day face cleaning with cotton balls soaked in warm water can help keep the tears from causing the stain to begin with. Keeping the face and nose fur clipped extra short helps even more.

2. Petroleum Jelly – Brushing Vaseline on the fur with a tooth brush is also said to work well – especially when preceded by face cleaning as discussed above. Allow 2-3 months for all the stained hairs to fall out on their own. The new hairs coming in won’t be able to pick up stain when coated in Vaseline.

3. Powered buttermilk – This product is found in the baking section of grocery store. Users say you simply mix some into the pet’s food once a day. Not clear to me why or how it would work.

4. Prostora Max – This all-natural probiotic dietary supplement from Iams is usually prescribed to help treat diarrhea and stomach disorders. However, it has also been found to be pretty darn effective against cosmetic facial tear staining as well, when given long term. There are no scientific studies to support this, but it has worked well in our hands.

5. FortiFora –This is a probiotic dietary supplement from Purina. Just as above, the mechanism of action is unclear and the product is not intended to treat facial tear staining. But it does seem to work. Effects are said to be noticeable by day two and quite dramatic after two or three weeks.

6. Proviable – This a probiotic type for dietary supplement produced by Nutramax. Like the other dietary supplements, many people have reported great success using this product against cosmetic facial tear stains.

7. Tear Stain – This is a dietary supplement available in powdered or soft-chew form, produced by Vet Classics. It contains Dried Whey, Natural Flavoring, Non-Fat Dry Milk, Silica Aerogel and Stevia. As the name suggests, this product is specifically intended to treat cosmetic facial tear staining.

8. Douxo Micellar solution – This is a topical solution for dogs that usually prescribed for ear disorders. When used for cosmetic facial tear staining, pet owners simply wipe it on the stained area once day with a cotton ball, and then once or twice a week, after the worst of the staining is gone. Some dogs seem to have more resistant staining than others, though most dogs will show improvement or resolution of the stains after two or three weeks.

9. Lid ‘n Lash – This is a hydrating and moisturizing cleansing gel for sensitive eyelids and eyelashes. It is available as a spray, gel or medicated wipe. It may be used to remove excess secretions and debris from eyelids and eyelash. Daily use is recommended.

10. Tylosin – This prescription-only powdered antibiotic is typically used in tiny doses to help treat inflammatory bowel disease and other intestinal disorders. However, many Vets report success in using this same antibiotic to treat cosmetic facial tear staining. For maximum effectiveness the powder must be added to the pet’s food daily forever.

11. Angel Eyes – This is a commercial dietary supplement that contains the antibiotic tylosin ina non-perscription format. But it is still an antibiotic. And again, for maximum, benefit, the product must be added to the pet’s food once a day indefinately.

12. Tetracycline – Tetracycline is another prescription-only antibiotic, available from your veterinarian. This drug is fairly inexpensive, but like all the other drugs, when it is stopped, the tear staining returns.

For more information on solutions for Facial Tear Staining please contact the Chastain Veterinary Medical Group by calling Preston Road Animal Hospital at (877) 296-5995 or Meadow Brook Animal Hospital at (972) 439-1344.

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