Long-snout dogs like poodles and cocker spaniels as well as short-nosed breeds like Pekingese and Maltese are prone to developing tear stains. These stains, though they may not adversely affect your dog's health, can be unsightly. Rather than purchasing expensive commercial remedies to eliminate tear stains, consider trying a few natural, home remedies to treat your dog. You can make a home remedy for tear stains using ingredients you already have around the house.
Though tear stains may be caused by a medical condition, the most common culprit is eye irritation. If your dog's hair grows too close to the eyes, it can cause itching and irritation, which results in excessive tearing. Some dogs are simply born with shallow eyelids that aren't deep enough to contain the dog's tears, thus causing them to spill out onto the fur at the corners of the eyes. Another possible cause for tear staining is blockage of the tear drainage holes, or puncta, which could be the result of an eye infection or injury.
If you are looking for a natural home remedy to clean your dog's tear stains, several herbs may be effective. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties and can help combat the bacteria and fungi that may grow in tear stains. Calendula, an herb often used to treat wounds, is effective against a number of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Euphrasia, also called eyebright, is an herb often used to treat eye infections. Though it is typically administered as a tonic, you can use it as an eyewash to treat tear stains.
White vinegar can be an effective remedy for tear stains in that it may help to prevent future stains. Once you have cleaned your dog's eyes, start adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to your dog's drinking water. The vinegar will change the pH of the water and thus alter the pH of your dog's tears, which can prevent yeast buildup. Yeast buildup can result in the visible coloration of tear stains as well as the growth of bacteria -- by preventing yeast buildup you can also prevent new tear stains from forming. Tums, an antacid, can also be effective in this way if you feed your dog half a tablet twice a day.
Corn Flour and Bleach
Another popular home remedy for tear stains is the combination of 2 teaspoons of corn flour mixed with a few drops of boiling water and one drop of bleach. To use this remedy, let the mixture cool to room temperature before applying it directly to the tear stains. Allow the application to dry for at least an hour, then wipe it away with a damp cloth. When using this remedy, be sure to avoid getting any of the solution in your dog's eyes, because it could cause irritation. Repeat the treatment every other day for two weeks to reduce the appearance of tear stains and to prevent new stains from forming.
Tips for Keeping Eyes Clean
After you apply a home tear stain remedy, there are a few things you can do to prevent future tear stains. Use a pair of blunt-nose scissors to carefully trim the hair around your dog's eyes so the hair cannot cause irritation. If you aren't comfortable performing this task yourself, ask your veterinarian or a professional groomer to show you how. When bathing your pet, avoid getting water in your dog's eyes; this too could cause irritation. Try spreading an opthalmic ointment around your dog's eyes before his bath, or simply wash his face with a damp cloth. If your dog continues to exhibit tear stains, bring him to your veterinarian for a checkup to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing the excessive tearing.
Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.