A dog’s tear staining occurs due to several factors, which include tearing and the growth of bacteria and red yeast in the fur around the dog’s eyes.
Genetic and environmental factors can cause the dog’s eyes to tear excessively.
Environmental factors come into play with tear staining in the case of a dog with allergies. Dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies and irritants like pollen; a dog may also have allergies to dust or other similar allergens that irritate the eyes, causing the dog’s eyes to tear.
Most veterinarians agree that face staining results from excessive tearing. 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.
Some dogs are genetically predisposed to excessive tearing. And dog genetics will also determine the dog’s coat type. A dog with long hair, like the Maltese, Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso, can experience eye irritation from long fur on the face that comes in contact with the eyes, leading to tearing and ultimately, tear staining.
Dog breeds with bulging “bug” eyes, like the Shih Tzu and Pug, are also prone to excessive tearing, as the eyes are more exposed and therefore, more prone to irritation.
How Do a Dog’s Tear Stains Form? What Causes Tear Staining?
Excessive tearing will moisten the fur around the dog’s eyes. The warm, moist fur is prone to bacteria growth and yeast growth, especially the growth of “red yeast.”
Red yeast causes tear staining that’s reddish brown in color. The red yeast that grows in the fur may be associated with an odor as well. In fact, some other breeds of dogs, like Pugs, may have tear staining on their cheeks due to a growth of red yeast.
Dog owners can remove a dog’s tear stains by controlling the growth of yeast in the fur around the dog’s eyes.
What Causes Fur Staining Around My Dog’s Mouth?
In some cases, moisture can lead to a build-up of red yeast around the mouth. But more commonly, dog owners will see a Maltese, Shih Tzu, West Highland White Terrier or Lhasa Apso with discolored fur around the mouth, beard and even on the chest and front legs, as a result of minerals present in the dog’s drinking water.
Purified drinking water can help minimize beard staining and staining of fur around the dog’s mouth. Dog owners should also be sure to find a dog food without artificial coloring, as dyes in pet foods and treats can stain white dog fur.
Eye Problems and Eye Infections in Dogs With Tear Staining
Dogs who are prone to tear staining are also more prone to eye infections.
Bacteria will grow in the moist, tear stained fur around the dog’s eyes; the bacteria then travels into the eye, causing an eye infection. Symptoms of an eye infection include eye redness, eye discharge (often thick, and yellow or green in color), squinting, pawing at the eyes and other signs of eye discomfort.
The moist fur on the dog’s face can also cause facial yeast infections. Symptoms of a yeast infection on a dog’s face include red, swollen skin, crusting and oozing skin, intense itching and a distinct odor. The yeast infection can also spread to the dog’s ears or to the dog’s paws, particularly if the dog is pawing or scratching the face.
It is important that your dog’s vet determine the cause(s) of the excessive tearing and any treatment your dog may need. Until then, keeping the eye area wiped clean daily will help. There are a few products on the market for help in preventing and removing tear stains such as Four Paws Tear Stain Remover Eye Wipes.