Does your pup suffer from unsightly marks on their face and look like they’ve been crying? Well, don’t worry: they aren’t “crying” per say! Rest assured, your dog isn’t upset or sad but your dogs eyes are weeping for other reasons…
The dark reddish-brown tear stains under your dog’s eyes can indicate a lot of different things, so it is important to see your vet if your dog suddenly develops these marks.
Tear stains are more common in certain breeds, but when they appear out of the blue, it could be a sign that there is something wrong with your pup’s eyes and their health.
Have you ever looked down at your pup a thought they look like they have been crying? Their fur has dampened and the fur around the eye is a slightly dark brown or there’s a reddish mark that has appeared under their eye? Well, these are tear stains that have developed over time due to the weeping of the eye – something accompanied by a discharge. It’s called epiphora.
Commonly seen on dogs with lighter fur, epiphora is a condition that comes from excessive tear production or a complication when tears aren't able to drain correctly. Instead, these tears will spill from the eyes and stream down the face, alongside the nose, and through the fur. When porphyrin, a pigment found in tears, builds up under your dog’s eyes, it can cause the reddish stains to appear on their fur.
Epiphora can be caused by a number of things – ranging from acute to chronic, which can make the process of discovering the cause of the tear stain more difficult.
There are a lot of causes of tear stains, normally due to an irritation or from your pup being unable to release tears from their eyes properly.
Just like us humans, your dog will produce liquid in their eyes to help remove an irritant or foreign object, but if this natural process is impaired, it can result in abnormalities…
The reason your pup has developed tears stains could be due to an eye infection called conjunctivitis. Just the same as it affects humans, our four-legged friends can suffer from an inflammation in the lining of the eye that can then produce mucus, pus, and discharge. As this infection takes hold, your pup will struggle to open their eyes due to the solidifying of mucus and discharge. This can be uncomfortable for your pup and may even distress them.
Just like us humans, our dogs can fall victim to the same health complaints such as the optic nerve disease, glaucoma. This condition occurs when pressure is placed on the eye, resulting in drainage difficulties in the eye and socket. If left unattended and untreated, the condition can become chronic, resulting in permanent damage to the optic nerve and ultimately can cause blindness.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma, with 40 percent of dogs affected by the illness becoming blind within the first year. But don’t panic, if caught early, you can help preserve their vision for longer.
Remember, glaucoma isn’t a death sentence.
Sometimes the cause of the stains is simply a reaction to something in the air; environmental, at home or food-related. Dust, smoke and some perfumes can get into your pup’s eyes and irritate them, resulting in redness, itching and in some more serious cases, yellow-green discharge. The eyes will water and stream to try and remove the foreign invader, which will, in turn, cause the stains under the eyes.
Likewise, if your pup is suffering from a food allergy, it can react in all sorts of ways, including skin irritations, behavioural problems, and abnormalities in the eye. Once the eye begins to struggle with drainage and excess moisture, tear stains will become a problem.
This type of complication normally affects dogs with shorter snouts; Pugs, Pekingese, French or English Bulldogs, and Boxers are more prone to this issue. Typically, in these breeds, the eyes will bulge and protrude from the socket, making it harder for the pooch to close their eyelids fully around the eyeball.
With this lack of protection and frequent lubrication, the eye can become vulnerable to irritants and damage from foreign objects, dust and sometimes their own paws/claws when grooming.
Your pup’s lifestyle can have a huge effect on eye conditions such as epiphora, with anxiety and stress being a large contributor to hindering their eye health. Like humans, when your pup is suffering from anxiety, their bodies will become vulnerable to infection and illness due to a weakened immune system.
While their bodies are focusing on tension, stress and upset, an infection can take hold and cause issues; including eye conditions that will cause weeping and tear stains.
Think your dog could be anxious or stressed? Read our 5 tips to help calm an anxious dog here.
Due to the many causes of this problem, treatment is very varied, which is why we would advise that you seek advice from your vet as soon as possible. Once you know the root of the problem, you will be able to help your pup get back to full health, without hindering their vision.
If the cause of the problem is an irritant, your vet will flush the eye through to remove the object or whatever is causing the irritation. However, if the root of the issue is an infection, your vet may put your pup on a course of antibiotics or drops which may take a few weeks to complete.
Whatever the cause, your vet will guide you how best to help the situation, but there are things you can do to help prevent the cause of tear stains like using supplements that target the eyes.
Source a tasty eye support supplement to add to your pup’s daily diet from a reputable pet brand that contains natural ingredients.
Regardless of the reason your pup may be suffering from tear stains, it is wise to try and beat the problem before it begins. Take some extra time to pay attention to your dog’s eyes, bathing them regularly and making sure that they’re as healthy as possible.
Get your pooch to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect that they may be suffering from something more sinister.