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Tear Staining in Cats and Dogs

What is Tear Staining?

Tear staining, also known as epiphora, is caused from an excessive tear production in dogs and cats and is normally just minor. Excessive tear production results in a red/brown streak under their eyes and is much more obvious in lighter-furred animals over their darker counterparts.

However, tear staining can also be due to a more serious health complication, such as:

  • An eye infection
  • Teething
  • Ingrown eyelashes
  • Tear duct and gland abnormalities
  • Ear infection
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Eye disease
  • Medication
  • Stress
  • Poor diet

Whilst it is unlikely that your pet might have one of these health complications, its recommended that you consult a vet to rule out any of these possible causes.

What causes Tear Staining?

The breakdown of red blood cells create a waste product called porphyrins. Whilst in most animals – and humans – these are removed in faeces, but in cats and dogs they are removed through urine, saliva and tears. When the porphyrins are on fur for a period of time staining will occur and will darken once exposed to sunlight.

In chronic cases, the stains will go brown indicating that your pet has developed a yeast infection from having constantly damp skin – highlighting the importance of going to the vet once tear staining has been noticed. This is because the constant damp skin causes skin irritation which is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and yeasts infections.

How do you treat Tear Staining?

Treatment normally depends on the cause of the tear staining and sometimes flushing out the eye will sort out the problem. Besides this and going to the vet there are other ways of treating tear staining in your pet. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Washing your pets face with a wet and damp cloth twice a day
  • Replace plastic food and water bowls as they can harbour bacteria with non-plastic bowls
  • Fresh filtered water instead of tap water – tap water contains a high mineral content which can be toxic to pets
  • A high quality diet – both a grain free and/or a raw diet can greatly benefit pets in many ways, see our other blogs to find out how
  • Regular grooming for both dogs and cats
  • Eye wash to gently clean any matted fur with a cotton ball

Team Shanklinpets