Why Dog Tear Stains Might Signal an Infection

A dog with eye tear staining can be a frequent occurrence, leaving a reddish, tan or even black discharge on the fur around the eyes. This staining is more noticeable in light coated dogs and may be noticed frequently in Maltese, or flat faced breeds such as pugs.

Sudden Tear Staining Can Be a Symptom of Conjunctivitis

The sudden appearance of tear staining on your pet can have many causes, such as injuries, foreign bodies or eyelashes that turn inward and rub the surface of the eye, leaving it open to infection. A greenish or yellowish discharge with tear staining may signal an eye infection called conjunctivitis and should always be evaluated by a veterinarian. Redness of the eye may also be present. The cause is most frequently related to bacteria, although allergies and irritation from bathing or grooming solutions getting into the eyes can be culprits, and can be treated with antibiotic eye ointments or solutions.

Blocked Tear Ducts and Cherry Eye as Causes of Tear Staining

Sometimes the eye drainage can be the result of a blocked tear duct that does not allow the drainage of eye secretions into the nasal cavity. The pooling of these secretions can be a place for bacteria to begin to multiply and cause infection. Another eye condition called cherry eye occurs when there is protrusion of the dogs third eyelid. In dogs, the third eyelid is located in the inner corner of they eye and contains a tear gland that can become swollen causing cherry eye. This condition is most often corrected by a relatively simple surgical procedure, as medications are not frequently effective.

Home Care for Tear Staining Problems

It is important that you adhere to the treatment plan recommended by your vet, and that you keep the eye cleansed with a sterile salt solution, with tepid water or with another solution prescribed by your vet. Regular skin cleansing prevents skin irritation from the discharge and removes the breeding ground for infection. Your vet may recommend an ointment to be used around the eye to prevent further irritation, if the skin around the eyes is already irritated from drainage. Always treat your pet's eye area gently and wash you hands before and after administering eye medications and performing eye care.