Tearstaining is usually caused by excessive tear production, technically known as epiphora. Normally tears drain through small holes (puncta) in the eyelid into the lacrimal sac, which drains into the nasolacrimal duct, which in turn empties into the nose. However, if the nasolacrimal duct is blocked for any reason, the tears get backed up and flow from the eye instead. In addition, in some breeds, the nasolacrimal duct does not develop properly, resulting in chronic overproduction of tears.
Dog Breeds Prone to Tear Stains
Causes of Tear Stains
The rusty color is often due to porphyrin, a waste by-product resulting from the breakdown of red blood cells; the stains darken when exposed to sunlight. (No, you’re not imagining things when you think the stains look worse outdoors.) However, stains that are more brownish than red—and that smell bad—could indicate a yeast infection. The biggest culprit here is the strong-smelling “red yeast,” which can infect tear ducts and cause staining. It’s a good idea to talk with your vet about possible causes of tearstaining in your pet.
Tips for Tear Stain Prevention and Removal
It’s also important to keep the hairs around the eyes trimmed, as well as keep the corners of the eyes clean with warm water.
Tear stains can be safely treated with a variety of safe products. You can also try Healthy Promise™ Pet Eye Cleaning Wipes to safely remove tear stains with a single wipe. However, before using any commercial product, discuss the problem with your veterinarian to check for an underlying, treatable cause like an infection or blockage. This is especially important if the tearing appears suddenly on a breed not prone to the condition.
In some cases, oral medication can be used to make tear stains less visible, but this is generally not necessary.