We are NOT
promoting a tear stain product. We are offering the
results of our extensive research to clear up tear stain myths,
curtail unhealthy "remedies" and offer
Staining: Research vs Internet Myths
Excessive tearing in dogs (called epiphora) and red
and brown tear staining is not merely a cosmetic nuisance. It is a symptom of disease, poor diet, allergies, genetic
predisposition or physical malfunction. Many of the
Internet suggested "cures" are myths passed down from one
lazy researcher to another so many times they are taken
as fact. Many of these myths, and the "cures" based on
them, are dangerous.
After years of research, and countless interviews with
numerous veterinarians, veterinary Opthalmologists and
antibiotic experts, we are currently writing and publishing our additional findings. Sign
up below to be notified of new findings as they are
using antibiotics to
control ugly red tear stains without realizing it if you use a product given
orally or sprinkled on food. Or maybe you're using
that merely keep tears from staining hair. If so, your dog's tear stains may not only return with a vengeance
with discontinuance or long-term use of the product, your dog's
problem may also worsen. Please, please, please don't be
seduced by manufacturers claims to sell out
your dog's health for beauty. Help is on the way!
Important: Yellow or greenish eye matter could be a sign
of infection. Please see your vet.
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be adding new pages periodically. Also, my vet is doing a trial of products to determine which
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satisfactorily with no adverse reactions. Sign up for more info.
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Subjects Discussed Here
Tear Staining – What Causes It?
Using Antibiotics for Tear
Staining – What Causes It?
tears (called epiphora) running down a dog's face has two
causes: too many tears or insufficient tear drainage.
Epiphora caused by too many
an automatic response
irritants such as dust, infection, allergens, poor diet or
a health problem. Think of tearing because of a
health problem as you would a runny nose. It's one way
bodies rid themselves of toxins.
Epiphora can also result when normal
tearing doesn't drain properly because of structural defects (genetics)
or blockage or inflammation of
the tear ducts. The
cause of the red or red-brown staining is something I'll discuss
in detail in an article soon. You won't believe what I've
Many dogs have excessive red
tearing but it doesn’t show (or offend) on their dark coats.
The pale faces of Maltese, Bichon and some Poodles make
these breeds’ tearing especially problematic as a
cosmetic matter. Other affected
breeds include, but aren’t limited to, Cockers, Greyhounds,
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels,
Shih Tzu, Chihuahua, Lhasa Apso, Papillon, Pekingese and
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Sudden onset tear
staining in adult dogs
If you have recently changed
your dog’s diet, either switch back then make the change
to the new food more gradual or gradually change to
another food. See
Dog Food: What to Feed and Why for more information on feeding.
your dog has moved to a new home (or day care) or you
have new carpeting, furniture, a new pet or family
member or other changes around your house or yard,
If you cannot pinpoint
suspect disease or dysfunction and consult your vet. This is especially
important if the dog squints, paws at his eyes or exhibits signs
of pain. Eyesight could be at stake.
Puppy Tear Staining
Puppies tear as they grow and the shape of their face
changes. They also tear when teething. This condition is
normal and will often go away on its own.
Please do NOT
give antibiotics to puppies to stop tear staining.
You may set them up for a lifetime of digestive
discolored teeth, yeast infections and
other health problems.
My dog Jiggy, a
Maltese, teared badly while teething. He and my other
dog Chiclet teared moderately thereafter -- worsening
when experiencing a health problem. Their tearing
disappeared when I switched them from so-called
premium, natural commercial food to fresh food.
It returns rarely, only during illness or allergy
season. For my dogs, and many others, tears are a barometer of their health.
of the tear duct system
Before investing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars
in a lifetime of tear stain products, we recommend you
have an Ophthalmologist check your dog's eyes for
structural defects, infections and inflammation. This is
especially important for Brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds like
Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso.
recommend seeing a eye specialist from the start,
rather than your everyday vet, unless your dog is
already scheduled for a check-up. Ophthalmologists know
a great deal more about eyes and may detect, or rule
out, conditions that a general vet may not -- in which
case you'll have to pay two vets when you're subsequently
referred to a specialist. This has happened to me twice.
Two different vets, on different occasions, detected
something troubling in my dog Jiggy's eyes. An Ophthalmologist immediately recognized
the condition as normal.
L. Clarke Cushing writes, “Congenital deformity of
the tear ducts or failure of them to form holes (puncta)
at the nasal end where tears drain into the nose will
cause excess tearing. Swelling associated with
inflammation and infection of the nose and sinuses may
obstruct the tear ducts by compression. The tear ducts
can also become clogged with mucus or pus. Foreign
bodies may block tear duct openings and may also
compress the ducts, as can tumors. Scar tissue, which
may arise from an infection or trauma may obstruct the
tear ducts also."
Testing for closed tear ducts
is done with an eye stain called Fluorescein.
If the draining system is working, the dye will confirm
it. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine recommends
that your vet use
prepackaged sterile strips
solutions can become contaminated and cause infections.
is required, know that it requires anesthesia.
Tiny hairs irritating
eyes poking at eyes (called
excess tearing. Removing these hairs requires anesthesia
and may or may not improve the condition. My Chiclet has
several of these tiny hairs but they don't seem to
bother her at all and don't cause tearing.
If surgery is required, you must see a board
Click this link for a referral list.
have photos of your dog showing bad tear staining
you would be willing to share with the world? If so, please
send your photos
Click this link if you have a
you'd like to share.
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this was a questionnaire, not a scientific study.)
than 300 people with dogs with a current or former tear
stain problem completed my survey. They also completed surveys on other dogs in their household who did not have a
tearing problem but ate the same food and lived in the
Because certain breeds tend to tear (and show staining) more than others, a disproportionately large number of
Bichon Frise and Poodles were represented.
51.4% of participants said that tear staining began
before one year of age and continues to present.
More than 90% had tears that were brown, reddish or
almost black. A few had yellow or green tearing
(generally indicating infection). A few had clear tears. 55% said
the staining was moderate to very unsightly.
antacids (like Tums) and eye drops
were the least affective.
(If your vet prescribed antibiotic drops, please
continue them through the full course.)
Almost twice as many people (41.4%) said that
a change of water
did NOT help
as said it DID help (24%). Whether it helps tears
or not, it is still better in some areas to give
purified or spring (not distilled) water.
water is fine for short term detoxing but not for
continued use as it may cause health problems.
71% said commercial products applied externally did NOT
clear up the problem; 31.4% said they DID work.
Obviously, these products must be continued indefinitely
and do not address underlying causes.
42% did not know if the products they used to clean
floors were safe for dogs. (Dogs eat off floors and lick
paws that trot across floors. Please check products for CHILD SAFETY and get rid of ones that don't
qualify. It may not help tear stains, but it will
definitely help your dog.)
58% had NOT had their
their dog's eyes. Of the dogs that were checked, most were given
only a cursory look by non-specialists during annual
exams. A few were told that very tiny hairs around the
eyes caused the tearing. (I was told this about my dog Chiclet, but most of the time she doesn't tear so I've
done nothing about them.) Removal requires anesthesia
and may or may not fix the tearing problem. Obviously,
longer stray hairs that can be trimmed away during
normal grooming should be removed. Just don't point
scissor points at your dog's eyes or body. Some vets said tear
ducts were "small" or "blocked." Other vets said: "White
dogs just do this." Not very helpful. Also untrue.
Non-white dogs also tear;
you just don't notice it.
And white dogs with proper care often no longer tear.
I'll be posting more about tear stains on my blog.
Sign up to
get alerts when the article is available. You can get
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everything we do on Twitter:
Yvonne, one of the readers of
this page, wrote to tell me that alkaline water helped her
dog's tear staining.
drank bottled spring water previously.) After the
alkaline water, she said his tears were clear rather than
brown after 4 weeks, then they stopped excess watering
altogether an additional 8 weeks later.
No one else has ever
mentioned success with this, and the cause of staining
varies, so the fix will as well. But it may be worth a try.
You can purchase alkaline
water at health food stores and on-line, or you can buy an
ionizer. I drink it myself. One caveat: if your dog has
health problems check with a vet first. Good luck! If
it works for you,
let me know.
USING ANTIBIOTICS for Tear
Are you using
a product that contains an antibiotic? You may not
realize it if you are.
selling antibiotics "off-label" do not advertise that
their products contain antibiotics.
You have to dig into the fine print. Surely they
fear it would scare you away -- as in our opinion it
should! Our advice: before administering any drug to
your dog (or yourself) do a "Google Search" of the top
two or three ingredients -- especially the ones you don't
recognize. Ignore words like "natural" and "pure"
and "safe" as
are used to make you feel good and may keep you from
actually investigating the ingredients.
If your vet gave you pills or a powder,
Veterinary Treatment List to see if the drug is an
antibiotic and, if so, to learn about the side effects
and precautions. Note: Too often vets prescribe
antibiotics, knowing the dangers of doing so, just to
please their clients (or shut them up!). They do what's
easy rather than what's healthful. If your dog suffers
the consequences of unnecessary antibiotic use, so what?
You can pay them to work on that problem, too.
tartrate (also called Tylan)
is made in
China. It is found in commercial products like Angel Eyes, Angel's Glow and
can be dispensed by a vet or vet supplier. Tylosin is an
antibiotic and is used in low doses as an
anti-inflammatory to treat colitis in dogs. Other
antibiotics used (and misused) include
Lincocin, and there are others. (Drugs.com warns: Lincocin
should be used only to treat or prevent infections that
are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by bacteria.)
should not be used in pregnant bitches or puppies as it
staining of the teeth and can affect bone and tooth
development. Also, avoid exposure to sunlight. Don’t use
with calcium, including Tums (another bad idea for
treating tear stains).
Extensive research has taught us one thing: excessive tearing is a health problem, not merely a cosmetic problem.
We also know that virtually all the conventional "wisdom"
on three original errors. Thus, almost every suggested
solution is based on flawed information.
If you're using antibiotics to
treat tear stains, but no particular bacterial
infection has been
diagnosed by your veterinarian, it is our opinion, and
the opinion of every vet with whom I've spoken, that you
should stop (after finishing one full course of any
prescribed antibiotic). Then begin taking probiotics.
use has unintended consequences and may lead to
antibiotic-resistant bacteria (putting your dog at
danger for future hard-to-cure infections). It may also alter
the composition of intestinal bacteria which your dog
uses to digest food properly, utilize vitamins and aid in a
healthy immune system.
Antibiotics are powerful drugs.
antibiotics like tylosin and
tetracycline were not developed to treat tearing, and
have not been studied by veterinarians or researchers for effectiveness in treating this
problem as far as I can ascertain. I
suspect a dog was being treated for something else and
the unexpected consequence was a clearing of tearing.
Are products safe?
Who knows? Marketing claims that a product is natural or
safe are just that: marketing claims. Safe may mean only
that most dogs experience no immediate, noticeable
health problems when it is administered. But unless
long-term "double blind" studies testing the products
were performed, along with a control group not using
this or a similar product, claims of safety are
anecdotal and probably wishful thinking. Any long-term
consequences would probably not be tied to the product
or even reported. For example, let's say your dog
developed chronic ear infections or cancer.
Would it occur to your vet or anyone else to tie the product
to the illness? Would you vet ask if your dog took the
product? Would you volunteer? As is the case with
non-immediate damage done by vaccines, connections
generally goes unnoticed.
antibiotic use for tear staining is dangerous
says: "Casual use of
antibiotics is responsible for antibiotic resistance of
bacteria in the environment and, in general, bacteria
that become resistant to tylosin also become resistant
to erythromycin. Since staining is simply a
cosmetic issue, perhaps non-antibiotic treatment could
be used instead." Perhaps?
says, "... the drug kills the
defenseless bacteria, leaving behind -- or "selecting," in
biological terms -- those that can resist it. These
renegade bacteria then multiply, increasing their
numbers a million fold in a day, becoming the predominant
Center for Disease Control says: "Antibiotic
resistance has been called one of the world's most
pressing public health problems. Over the last decade,
almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and
less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is
really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can
quickly spread to family members ...." You may be
thinking that you'll just use another antibiotic if this
becomes a problem. Think again. There are fewer and
fewer antibiotics that work!
An Overview of Antibiotic Resistance by Max
Sherman, RPh. “Resistance increases and occurs more
rapidly with bacteriostatic agents (e.g., tetracyclines,
sulfonamides, macrolides) than with bactericidal drugs….
Antimicrobial resistance is also more likely to emerge when
widespread usage is combined with suboptimal dosage.”
Note: Tylosin is a macrolide used for tear
stains in a suboptimal dose.
World Health Organization:
"Infections caused by resistant microbes fail to respond to
treatment, resulting in prolonged illness and greater risk
of death. Treatment failures also lead to longer periods of
Ask yourself: why would my dog require long-term antibiotic use? Would
you take antibiotics non-stop yourself with no proof
that you have an infection, and specifically the
particular infection that the antibiotic treats. Or without proof that long-term use is safe?
As malevolent bacteria like to say: what doesn't
kill you makes you stronger. The bad bacteria that
survive will be stronger, and your dog's chance of
fighting the bacteria are reduced!
ANTIBIOTICS or Repairing Antibiotic Damage
If you're using
an antibiotic ...
or are discontinuing an
antibiotic ... or just to improve your dog's health if
you've ever given antibiotics, give your dog probiotics.
Probiotics alone can
reduce tear stains in some dogs.
probiotics (good intestinal bacteria)
at a different time of day than you are giving
antibiotics. For example, if you give the
antibiotic with meals, give the probiotic midday and at
bedtime. This will help promote growth of
good bacteria to combat the every-stronger bad strains.
Buy probiotics at your health food store or on-line.
Every vet I know has a favorite product. I currently use
Cycles-of-Life Geneflora (Google it)because it can be
kept at room temp (rather than be refrigerated).
It can also be given with meals, whereas most probiotics
don't survive stomach acid. These two advantages make it
more likely that I'll use it regularly. In fact, I keep
it with my dogs' brushes and toothbrushes so I'll see it
My vet has
recently suggested I try
Jarrow's Petdophilus. Or you can use your own favorite
product. If using products for humans,
know that dosing for most products for adult humans is based on the person
weighing 150 pounds. So, if your dog weighs 50 pounds,
give 1/3 the amount. Use a product with multiple strains
Don't forget to sign up for our
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See our special pages on
Vaccination, the Rabies Vaccine and
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dealing with a difficult one).
is a consumer advocate, not a veterinarian. The information contained on this
web site is provided for general information purposes. Any
information provided is not veterinary advice and should
not be substituted for a regular consultation with a veterinary
professional. If you have any concerns about your dog's
health, please contact your veterinarian's office immediately.
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