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Shih Tzu Tear Stains

Shih Tzu Tear Stains

This section is dedicated to helping your regarding Shih Tzu tear stains.  While this problem is more obvious on pure white dogs, it does happen to dogs of any color or mulit-color.

Sadly, some owners believe that staining is normal.  We have actually spoke with an owner who though that their dog’s coat was naturally red around the eyes…they had no idea that it was an issue or that anything was wrong.

While the stain itself does not cause health issues, there are some health issues that can cause the staining.

Furthermore, it can make the dog uncomfortable since that part of the coat, around the sensitive eyes, will often not be soft and clean.  It is often difficult to comb….And it can be an irritation to the dog.

Lastly, in regard to appearance, a Tzu is not meant to have discoloration on the coat and to have this around or under the eyes is not normal and can be fixed.

Let’s looks at the causes of this,prevention and treatments that actually work…and what does not work.

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Red Yeast

This is a bacterial infection that is thought to grow when a dog has extreme tearing. This means that a watery solution that has an elevated sodium content is almost continually dripping from the tear ducts and slowly yet progressively being soaked into the hairs that are beneath and to the side of the eyes.  When the moisture is always there, it develops into a breeding area for moisture loving microorganisms....with red yeast being the most widespread.

This will cause a red to brown stain that is very obvious.  The excellent news is that there is a cure.  An owner must bring their Shih Tzu to the veterinarian and an antibiotic (most often tetracycline ) as it can given to treat this.  Additionally, the subject of excessive tearing must be dealt with....If not, infection will come back again. There are several alternatives, with the most severe being surgery.  One should discuss all possibilities with their dog's veterinarian and opt for what is in the best interest of the dog.

Water and Food Bowls

The containers that your Shih Tzu eats and drinks out of is just as significant as what is in them.  Many plastic colored dog food bowls can cause hair stains, predominantly to the face.  The colorants used in manufacturing them will gradually be released into the food and water, which then goes into the hairs on the dog’s face.  This can be fixed by using only stainless steel or ceramic food and water bowls.

The size of the bowl will also be important. It is best to use smaller, shallow dishes.  If a bowl is too large, Shih Tzu tear stains can develop when the face becomes too wet by having to dive too deep into the bowl... The hairs become wet, stays wet and then the red yeast that we mentioned above can set in.  While putting any longer hairs back into a tie or bow, even short hairs around the face can easily become damp and if not wiped dry soon after drinking and/or eating, bacteria can begin to grow.

The Actual Food & Water

There are many doggie treats that can cause staining.  To make them appear more appealing, many have colorants added…This makes the treats red, orange, yellow, etc.  It is a shame that this is done, as they would taste exactly the same without this additive.  

If you see tear staining, it is recommended to keep away from colored treats and stick to white or light cream ones.  The alternative, of course, is to home cook and have no colorants at all.

The iron content of your tap water can cause staining.  Using a filter attached to the tap will work well to catch not only intense iron concentrations but also other elements that you and your Tzu should not be ingesting.  On the other hand, you may wish to use bottled water . (Cheaper if bought in gallon containers).

Treatment No Matter What the Cause

Here is what DOES work…

A solution of boric acid and corn starch -  It is VERY important to NOT allow this to touch your dog’s eyes.  If there is another dog in the house who may possible touch or lick your Tzu while this solution is on, they should be separated.

It is suggested to begin slowly… with using 2 tablespoons of boric acid mixed into corn starch. If you do not see any improvement after 4 days, the amount can be increased….with ½ being the maximum amount.   One would apply this using a small brush (such as a small blush makeup brush or a children’s toothbrush)….Or you may do it with your finger.  

In many cases, this will work by killing germs that are causing the tear stains.

Buttermilk - 
This would be buttermilk in powdered form, added to the Tzu’s food…1/4 teaspoon each day.  It takes some time to work, but we have seen results with this.

Angel Eyes Tear Stain Remover -
  One of the most popular commercially sold products for dog with tear staining…we have seen results with this. One should note that it works best if applied at all times as directed…If one does not follow the direction, one will not see results.

The Problem with Vinegar

Many websites suggest adding vinegar to a dog’s drinking water as a means eliminate stains. However, we see very limited results… Mostly because of the terrible taste of the vinegar….Most will have an aversion to it and not want to drink their water when this is added.

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