Many dogs have reddish-brown tear stains under their eyes and on their muzzles. These stains are unsightly, but are not dangerous to their health. Tear stains are usually easily removed with a few simple treatments. They can also be easily prevented once they have been removed.
Tear Stain Causes
Physical characteristics, such as long hair on the muzzle or around the eyes, deep facial wrinkles, blocked tear ducts or bulging eyes can cause tear stains. Biological causes of red tear stains include red yeast, various eye and ear infections and pH imbalance. Red tear stains can also be caused by environmental factors, such as plastic food or water bowls and minerals in the water your dog drinks.
Dogs Prone to Tear Stains
Any dog with white hair on his face, especially if he has facial wrinkles or long hair or whiskers on his face, is prone to tear staining. Breeds like West Highland white terriers, Maltese, Pekingese, bulldogs, poodles and Chinese shar pei, among others, are likely to have tear-stained faces. Mixed-breed dogs can also have tear-stained faces, particularly if any of these breeds appear in their lineage.
Adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to your dog’s drinking water will change the water’s pH, which in turn will change your dog’s pH. The slight increase in acidity will reduce the opportunity that any bacteria or yeast has to take hold in your dog’s system. Once any existing tear stain has been removed, continuing to add white vinegar to your dog’s water will either reduce their recurrence or eliminate them entirely.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Like white vinegar, apple cider vinegar will raise your dog’s pH when added to her water. Apple cider vinegar can also be used in your dog’s food for a similar result. Add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to food or water for small dogs and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to food or water for medium to large dogs. In addition to its pH-changing properties, however, apple cider vinegar can also be added to your dog’s final rinse water following her bath. Once your dog’s rinse water runs clear, pour a 50/50 mixture of water and apple cider vinegar over her, followed by another rinse. This mixture will act as a natural flea remedy, reducing any staining that your dog may have through contact with fleas. Take care to avoid your dog’s eyes, however, since vinegar will cause her eyes to sting.