Is Your Dog Susceptible to Tear Stains?
Tear staining is a very common problem that affects dogs, and there are many causes of tear stains. The main cause of this problem is an excessive production of tears, a condition known as epiphora. Tear staining is much more prevalent in dogs with light-colored coats, particularly white dog breeds.
The top dog breeds prone to this problem include Shih Tzus, poodles, Lhasa Apsos, Papillons, Pekingese, Cocker Spaniels, Maltese Bichan, Pomeranians, Pugs and Chihuahuas. This is mainly because the pigments contained in the dog’s tears dye the lighter coloured or white fur.
Porphyrins are the primary causative agents of tear stains on white dogs. Porphyrins are molecules that contain iron. The iron is a waste product following the breakdown of red blood cells in the body. Dogs excrete porphyrin through their saliva, urine and tears.
The staining occurs when the tears containing these poryphins sit on the fur for a period of time. Moreover, the stains tend to darken when they are exposed to sunlight. This is the reason why dog tear stains seem to get worse with each day the dog plays outside.
CAUSES OF TEAR STAINS ON WHITE DOGS.
Since tear stains on white dogs are caused by an excessive production of tears, it is important to look into the underlying causes of the condition.
While eye infections are quite common in many dogs, there are some dog breeds that are more prone to developing them. Dog breeds such as Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apsos, Maltese Bichan and Pekingese are susceptible to tear staining resulting from eye infections. A dog with an eye infection will display several symptoms.
The dog may have thick yellow or greenish discharge from the eyes. The eyes may be red, swollen and bloodshot. Also the dog may exhibit squinting and will be constantly pawing their eyes. Dog owners must be constantly on the lookout for these symptoms.
It is important to note that certain dog allergies can result in symptoms similar to those of an eye infection. Dogs’ eye problems should be diagnosed by a professional veterinarian in order to determine the underlying causes of the tear staining. The most commonly reported eye infections in these dog breeds include dog conjunctivitis, blindness in one eye, color blindness, canine glaucoma, uveitis and corneal ulcers.
BLOCKED TEAR DRAINAGE HOLES.
Dogs normally produce a thin film of tears to lubricate their eyes. These fluids normally drain into the lacrimal ducts (tear ducts). The lacrimal ducts are found at the corner of the eye running along the internal side of the nose. These ducts drain excess tears into the back of the throat and nose.
A blockage in the tear ducts results in an overflow of tears from the eyes. The two main causes of tear duct blockage in dogs are eye infections and eye damage due to physical trauma. Eye damage often causes the formation of fibrous scar tissue which blocks the tear ducts. Dog breeds such as Cocker Spaniels, Poodles and Chihuahuas are more prone to developing tear duct blockages.
Another cause of blocked tear ducts is eyelids that are turned inwards towards the eyeball. This condition is referred to as canine entropion. It can be present soon after birth or may develop later on in a dog’s life. Entropion largely affects the outer aspect of the lower eyelids.
It can occur in one or both eyes. This condition causes the excess tears to drain onto the dog’s face instead of the lacrimal ducts. Dog owners must watch out for rolling of the eyelids, thick discharge from the eyes, wetness of hairs next to the eyelids and rubbing of the eyes. However, proper diagnosis of this condition is done through ocular examination by a veterinarian.
LONG HAIR AROUND THE EYES.
Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Maltese and Pugs have excess hair growth in the skin folds around their eyes. This extra hair often transfers tears away from the eyes and onto the face resulting in tear stains on white dogs. Additionally, they harbor dust, dirt and harmful bacteria that make such breeds susceptible to eye infections leading to excessive tear production and consequently tear staining.
Dog owners must realize that tear stains on white dogs is not just a cosmetic problems. It is an indicator of the dogs’ overall eye health. Tear stains can be managed by keeping the environment around the dog free from allergens and irritants. Underlying problems such as eye infections and canine entropion should also be addressed as soon as possible.
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