tear staining has always been an annoying aspect of having white dogs. Although, genetics do play a part in tear staining, environment and stress play the biggest part in dogs staining. Any dog CAN have a tear staining issue .... no dog is immune to this problem. 

SOME   tear staining is due to a low grade systematic infection. This can cause the enzyme levels in the dog's bodily fluids to be "off" and therefore cause excessive staining. This systematic imbalance can be caused by simple stress or it can indicate an underlying health issue.

Tear Staining is the red/brown discoloration that can usually be found on a dog under the eyes and around the mouth. In some more progressed states you can also find staining on the feet or around the genital areas.

As a first attempt to treat mild tear staining, many vets/breeders treat tear stain with an oral antibiotic. The most prevalent antibiotic used intially is Tylan Soluable Powder. Tylan powder is an antibiotic that is not commonly used with dogs. This is helpful, has most dogs will not have built up an immunity to this anitbiotic. It can be dissolved in their drinking water or be given orally daily. Different people use different doses. I would talk to your vet and breeder friends to see how they dose their dogs. Tylan is also a very mild antibiotic that has a secondary benefit of being useful in the treatment and prevention of some gastro-intestinal infections that can be picked up at dogs shows or other places with many dogs present. Although safe for dogs of all ages (except nursing puppies, mothers in whelp or nursing, and dogs on other medications),


 ....not recommend using it continuously. .......give them at least a week off every 3 weeks, to be on the safe side. Results do not happen overnight, but if after a 3 week period of time you don't see an improvement there probably is an underlying cause for the staining. Remember that the existing stain will not disappear but the hair will start to grown out white around the staining area.

If you have a darker stain that is resistant to a mild antibiotic treatment, you will need to more directly identify the specific health issue. First, visit your veterinarian to have a thorough examine, to look for ear infections, eye infection, blocked tear ducts and teeth issues. No antibiotic can fix some of these underlying health issues by themselves.

If you are having problems with tear staining and Tylan doesn't work,...YOU CAN HAVE  a Culture and Sensitivity test run on the tearing residue. By just putting them on random antibiotics at the wrong doses, you could eliminate many common antibiotics by desensitizing the dog's system to them. Tylan is primarily made to battle microplasma in poultry and swine. This is not a commonly used canine antibiotic so if desensitizing occurs towards Tylan, it is not as damaging as it could be with other more commonly used canine antibiotics. Having the tearing cultured almost always is successful because the sensitivity report that tells your veterinarian what exact antibiotics the bacteria will respond to. This takes the guesswork out of the equation. In bad cases, I have found the bacteria to be resistant to most commonly used veterinary antibiotics. Tear staining can be attacked in two ways, with both oral antibiotics and with eye medication. Consult your vet for the proper doses.

Bad tear staining can be communicable. Constant wetness under the eyes is the perfect environment to develop a secondary baterial infection. This tends to turn into a form of Staph. Dogs licking each, other sharing water, using the same brushes can pass the bacteria. I Lysol my brushes every so often, or have dedicated brushes for certain dogs. I clean my dog room and puppy room with a bleach based solution and at completely other times an ammonia based solution, either can be mixed with Fabulouso. Many health issues (i.e. coccidia) are only killed by ammonia not bleach and vice versa. For day to day cleaning of my doggie areas, I use Odo-Ban or Simple Green. Regular washing with anit-bacterial dish washing liquid of all dog's water and food bowls is very important. Water and food bowls should be either ceramic, glass or stainless steel. Plastic and other materials can harbor bacteria. Once a month, the bowls can be soaked in a weak bleach solution for true sanatation and then washed in a normal fashion with soap and water.

Tear staining is usually has an environmental basis, too. In addition to antibiotics, I also use more holistic solutions:

**Using filtered or distilled water.

**Using ionizers in the rooms with the dogs for air purity, good ventilation for example exhaust fans, ceiling fans, open windows etc.

**Exposure to sunshine is crucial. Being outside with sunshine and clean fresh air is healthy for everyone, including dogs.

**Keeping your dogs clean with their hair out their faces is also important.

**Keeping your dogs environment clean is imperative.

**Keeping the filters in your air conditioning and heating systems clean.

Genetically, there are some bloodlines that are more prone to tearing then others. Hair growth on the eyerims, and more protruding eyes can be indicators. Prevalent problems with related dogs in different environments is also another good indicator. The predisposition to having health issues that cause tear staining can be genetic in origin. Look for trends in the dogs of that particular bloodline.

As for cleaning up the already stained hair. The key is to eliminate the cause of staining first and then you will find the stained hair will slowly fade and be much easier to whiten. There are ways to remove the stain once the staining has stopped. But, unless there is a crucial reason to remove the stain, always remember that staining is just a superficial thing and the ways to remove the stain are harsh to say the least. Tearing is always a medical issue, with environment, care and genetics playing a part in the mix. Consistancy and time are always the keys to the best solution!


 To remove stains after they occur you can mix Milk of Magnesia and Hydrogen Peroxide in equal parts and add corn starch to make it the consistency of a paste and apply it to the stained area, be careful to avoid getting it into the eye itself. If you accidentally do get it into the eyes, flush the eye with pet eye-wash available at vets or pet stores. Let the mixture dry in the stained area and remove with a damp cloth. If there is redness on the skin afterwards, you can apply diaper rash ointment -- again, be careful to not get it in the eyes. On a daily basis, or as needed, you can remove excessive build up with a plastic flea comb, or damp cloth, or just trim the stained hair away with pet thinning shears. If your dog is nervous or fidgety when you work around the eyes, the trimming should probably be best left alone though.

There are products on the market that advertise to help prevent or eliminate tear stains, and I myself have tried many, but the most effective seems to be a product called "Angel Eyes." It is available in pet stores, some vets, or on-line on Petedge.com. "Angel Eyes" is an additive you sprinkle on top of the dog's food. It helps eliminate tear stains internally. I've seen many owners use it for dogs with bad tear stains, and these dogs now have very light stains or none at all


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When red blood cells are naturally broken down by the body, a chemical substance known as porphyrin is left in the bloodstream. Porphyrins are excreted primarily through bile and the intestinal tract, but in dogs a significant amount of porphyrin is excreted through tears, saliva and also urine.
Porphyrin is an iron-containing substance. If you have ever fed your baby an iron-fortified formula, you know about those burp stains being problematic, and those stains are nearly impossible to remove!
All dogs have this same iron-staining problem caused by their tears, saliva and urine, but of course it is most noticeable on light colored dogs. If you have ever noticed a white dog who has been licking or chewing on his leg, the hair in that area will turn iron-brown in color as well. These iron-related stains intensify/darken in the presence of sunlight.
When my bitch who is cream colored was nursing her litter, I could see where the saliva of the puppies had stained the hair around the nipple area to a rusty brownish tint.
I have heard many causes attributed to tear staining, everything from beet pulp in dog food to yeast and bacteria as the culprits. However, these are not the causes of tear staining. The actual cause of stains is the tears themselves.
Some veterinarians may not be familiar with the actual cause of these stains; or may consider this problem purely a cosmetic concern. Medical reasons for excess tearing should be ruled out by your vet....blocked tear ducts, eye infections, entropion (inward rolling of the eyelid), allergies, cold weather, wind and anything irritating to the eyes stimulates tear production and can result in staining.
Young puppies will tend to produce more tears when they are teething. When the dog reaches maturity, tear staining should lessen. However, some dogs may produce more tears than others.
Iams company addresses this issue on their website They have had people asking about beet pulp in dog food as a cause of tear staining. However, beet pulp is not the cause of tear stains. Beet pulp is not even red in color! It is white.

The best remedy is to keep the area clean and dry, and out of sunlight. My mother-in-law religiously uses Visine drops for her cream pom, and his tear stains have disappeared. Some sources advocate the use of distilled drinking water. Some have found giving Tums (calcium tablets) to be helpful. On the Coton de Tulear list I subscribe to, one members swears by Vitamin C in the drinking water. She has done personal research and says that the vitamin C alters the body pH, with interferes somehow with the porphyrin pathway.
Low-dose tetracycline also blocks the pathway whereby the porphyrins do not enter the tears and saliva. However, use in young dogs is not recommended due to the side effect of discoloring the permanent teeth.
There is a company called "Eye Envy" that sells medicated pads to wipe the area, then there is a powder which is applied. I had some success using their products, but regular use is required and results won't happen overnight.
There are companies who sell some EXPENSIVE concoctions (Angel's Eyes is one of them), that contain low doses of the antibiotic Tylan. This will work the same way as Tetracycline, and prevent the staining. It is supposed to be safe even in young dogs and does not discolor the teeth. You can go to one of the veterinary websites and buy Tylan powder which you add to their food, just a pinch daily.
Usually as dogs mature their tearing problem will diminish. Staining can also occur around the mouth (from saliva) and areas which contact urine.
You could try using something in the coat which would repel or lessen saliva contact, perhaps powder or a cream of some type. My friend with a Maltese uses a paste made of half boric acid, half cornstarch. Put it on, let it sit for a few minutes,then wipe off. After a couple days the stains will abate. Whatever you do, if you decide to use this paste, DO NOT get it into the eyes. And, do not use it routinely, as it will dry and burn the coat. Some show people do resort to half-strength hydrogen peroxide to remove the stains. When used frequently, this will dry the coat and make it brittle.
Diligence in keeping the affected area clean and dry is the most effective treatment!