Tear Staining in dogs and cats is most commonly seen in animals with white or light coloured coats, with some breeds like Maltese or Persians being more prone to the condition. It is a reddish-brown stain or discolouration of the hair around the eyes. The tear staining is caused by a condition called Epiphora, which is when there is an excessive amount of tears flowing around the eyes or on the face.
If you notice any signs of Epiphora, like excessive moisture or tears around your pets eyes or face, tear staining or eye irritation, you should take them to a veterinarian for an examination. A vet will examine them and then try to determine if there is an underlying cause for the excess tear production.
Some causes of Epiphora include;
- Abnormal growth of eyelashes
- Eye injury
- Foreign body in the eye
- Scratch on the eye
- Eye ulcer
- Blocked tear duct
- Facial / eye anatomy
- Hair getting into the eye
The treatment of epiphora is determined by the cause and this is why a veterinarian needs to be consulted. Treatment may be simple like flushing the eye or trimming the hair around the eyes. Sometimes surgery may be required to correct anatomical problems or to unblock the lacrimal duct. Problems can occur if the condition is not treated or monitored especially since the constant moisture around the eyes can be the perfect place for yeast and bacteria to grow. The yeast or bacterial growth can cause the eye to become itchy, tear ducts to become blocked or infected and even eye infections can develop. If the eye becomes itchy or irritated the cat may scratch or rub the eye which could then damage the eye further.
Some pets will unfortunately suffer from intermittent episodes of epiphora throughout their lives. To help reduce the eye discomfort you can keep the eyes clean by wiping them with an eye wipe, a wipe specially formulated to not irritate the eye. Keeping the hair trimmed around the eyes may also help reduce discomfort and the tear staining.
To keep your pets eyes clean and reduce the unsightly reddish-brown stain there are a number of tear stain removal products available for both cats and dogs. There are powder supplements available that you feed to them and it can help reduce the stain by reducing the oxidation through the tear ducts. You need to feed this for a period of time and the stains will gradually disappear as the new coat grows through. There are also wipes and cleaners available to clean the eyes and help remove the stain.