Maltese, Yorkshire terriers, Pekinese, shih-tzus and poodles, among others, are all breeds that battle tear staining. In normal eyes, the tears produced are drained out of the eye through a tear duct into the nose. The bad smell and discoloration are from excessive tear production or tears spilling over the eyelid. Tear spillage can occur due to mechanical blockage of the tear ducts or due to bulging eyes that cause spillage of tears over the eyelid. Overproduction of tears can also cause tear stains. This can be caused by a couple of different things including genetics, eye infections, eye irritation and allergies.
Some dogs are just genetically apt to produce more tears. Another very common reason is the hair growing between the eyes and on the snout. That hair is often trimmed back so that you can see the dog’s eyes and so that the dog can see you. When it begins to grow back out, it can hang in their eyes, occasionally poking them and causing irritation. The irritation causes increased tear production. Another problem is distichia, which is when the eyelashes curl back or grow towards the eye instead of out. This also causes eye irritation and, if really bad, can cause eye ulceration. The last and probably most common cause is allergies. As you might have experienced yourself, sneezing, coughing and watery eyes all are symptoms of allergies.
Increases in tear production can cause or even be caused by reoccurring eye infections.
The moisture around the eye can make a perfect environment for bacteria and yeast to grow. A sure sign of infection is when the discharge from the eye no longer appears to be tears or clear. When it becomes red, yellow or green, you probably have an infection. Make sure you are checking with your veterinarian to ensure you don’t have either one of these infections. They will need to be treated as soon as possible to avoid other problems like ulceration or loss of vision.
Wiping around the eye area gently with a soft, clean cloth moistened with water, once a day will help decrease staining and odor. There are wipes that can be prescribed by your vet that are quick and easy for on the go.
There is also a powder that is made to sprinkle on top of the food that will eliminate that staining. There are various oral medications or supplements that can be given for tear staining. It is best to consult your veterinarian prior to starting any new medications.