What are Tear Stains ?
Dogs produce tears with each blink of their eyes which contain anti-bacterial proteins to nourish and keep the eyes lubricated. Tears will flush away irritants and infectious agents that are constantly getting in the eyes. Dog's tears contain a pigment called porphyrin which permeates the fur around his eyelids. While most dogs have at least some tear stains around their eyes, the problem is much more visible on dogs with white or light-colored fur.
Why Do Maltese Get Tear Stains ?
Tear Staining in Maltese is fairly common because the rounder the eye the more tears will spill down the face then flow into the corner of the eye. Veterinary eye specialists believe that the actual structure around the eye area plays a significant role in excessive tearing. Excessive tearing can occur as a result of irritation to your dog’s eyes, allergies, dental or health problems, diet, or because blocked tear ducts don't allow the tears that are naturally produced to drain properly, so they'll to spill over the lid and run down their face staining the hair in the process. When the face hair is wet from excessive tearing, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast infections such as Red Yeast, which causes deep reddish-brown stains.
* Maltese Genetics: Play a big part, the eye structure was the most probable source of the problem. Maltese may be born with lower tear ducts that are Shallow, Clogged or Physically Closed, and may need to be surgically opened. Tear Duct Studies indicate that 20-25% of small dogs and cats are born with closed of shallow tear ducts. Tears overflow because there the eyelid space is not deep enough to contain them.
* Cutting Teeth: Cutting teeth may cause changes in the head & mouth structure of your pet, placing pressure on the tear ducts. We also notice Tear Staining on puppies at the 5 month mark when puppies cut their first teeth, and again when they cut their permanent teeth.
* Irritation & Allergies: Some animals get hair or eyelashes into their eyes causing irritation. Shampoos and other chemicals can also irritate their eyes. Many breeds are susceptible to allergies, some foods cause allergic reactions and animals may build an allergic reaction over time to a type of food. You should be premium food and possibly grain free.
* Stress: If your dog is uncomfortable or stressed-out; they are prone to all kinds of problems, including and leading to excess tearing, less eye drainage and more staining.,
* Food Quality: Diet can play a significant role in tearing. Many cheap commercial foods contain additives, dyes, or fillers. Always check the ingredients on dog food, stay away from foods that list Corn or Wheat.
* Health Issues: Tear staining can be linked back to ear infections, so it’s important to keep your dog’s ears as clean and dry as possible.
* Water: Use Distilled or Bottled Water. Tap water can contain high levels of minerals causing staining.
Many dog owners are concerned with the cosmetic effect that the stains have on their dog, but these moist patches of hair can also foster the growth of disease-causing bacteria. You can keep the area clean with baby wipes cut into smaller sections. If you are to worried, talk to your Vet and investigate further into why your dog is producing some many extra tears. Your first step is the start using a premium quality grain free dog food, the main ingredients should be a solid protein followed by some vegetables, this will help to reduce the levels of tearing. Next start giving your dog a teaspoon of plain yogurt once a week as it will fight the yeast that is causing the red tear stains. It will take a few weeks to notice but it will cut down on the amount of tearing. Some Vets recommend an antibiotic like Tylosin to kill the bacteria- this is how the popular product Angels Eyes works. Unfortunately you will kill other good bacteria in the gut and there may be other health implications. We recommend trying a natural food tear stain remover supplements first, these safely oxidize the iron inside the body preventing the bacteria from metabolizing anything. Three of the best are Angels Glow, NaturVet, and Eye Envy which is an eye treatment solution kit that is non-irritating and proven to prevent eye leakage and discharge. Your last option is a 10 day course of oral tetracycline which has to be prescribed by your Vet.
Cleaning Tear Stained Hair.
*Milk of Magnesia, corn starch and peroxide 2:4 ratio: Use equal volume of MOM and peroxide, and then use the corn starch to make a good paste of this; put on and work well into the stained area and let dry overnight. Wash out and condition well. Keep doing this for several days until tear staining is gone, its best to skip a day or two between applications if possible. I also like to use a few drops of Nexus KerapHix in this mixture to help with conditioning.
* 2% Peroxide & Crown Royale Magic Touch: Use the Magic Touch #1 grooming spray concentrate full strength 1:1 with 2%-3% hydrogen peroxide - as opposed to human hair peroxide. Mix up enough for a week at a time & keep in a closed bottle. Use as cotton ball to clean the eyes. This can be drying to the coat so follow with a hair conditioner. This is a longer term lifting of color over a week or two and may need to be conditioned to maintain clear conditions.
* Crown Royale makes a product called "WHITENER": Mix this with human hair peroxide 2:4 ratio into a paste and again leave on overnight. The Crown Royale Whitener works a lot like MOM/peroxide, it works faster but IMHO it is much harsher -- again, condition well.