Improve the health and comfort of canine patients prone to tear stains by talking to their owners about proper ocular hygiene.
Tear stains in dogs are caused by a chemical called porphyrin. These iron-containing molecules – excreted through the intestinal tract, bile ducts, saliva, urine, and tears – can cause red-brown stains on the dog’s fur, most noticeably around the eyes on light-colored dogs. Excessive tearing can be caused by numerous factors including dry eye, certain medications, conjunctivitis, glaucoma, eye infections, allergies, ingrown eyelashes, poor diet, and environmental factors. Brachycephalic breeds are predisposed to tear staining, since their flatter noses can affect their tear ducts by making them narrower or crooked, which can lead to an overflow of tears onto the fur.
Talking to pet owners about tear stains
Once you’ve ruled out any underlying condition such as those listed above, it’s time to open up a dialogue with the pet owner about the next best step for their pet. In addition to recommending safe, quality products (see below), encourage pet parents to eliminate any environmental factors, such as dust and harsh chemical-based cleaners in the home, that may be contributing to excessive tearing. Be sure to educate them on symptoms that can accompany unmanageable tearing, such as odors caused by fermented bacteria and yeast. Pawing of the face is often a sign that the cause of excessive tearing may be creating discomfort.
The problem with antibiotics
A common treatment option for tear stain prevention is Tylosin. At first glance, products containing this antibiotic may appear to be a viable solution, but their efficacy is unpredictable and potentially dangerous.1 Typically prescribed to treat bacterial infections in farm animals, this harsh ingredient has not been FDA-approved for use in small animals. In addition, it can negatively affect their immune system by causing antibiotic resistance.2
Treating the cause
Since excessive tearing is often the result of an underlying ocular condition, it’s important to treat the cause with a gentle approach that will support the overall health of the animal. Patients with dry eye, for instance, will often have tear staining due to blocked or infected tear ducts that don’t allow for proper drainage of the excessive tears which are created to lubricate the eye. By using a product such as I-DROP® VET GEL, the problem and its symptoms can be properly managed. I-DROP® VET is a uniquely formulated line of lubricating viscoadaptive tears, which provides superior hydration and comfort with its blink-activated coating and recoating of the surface of the cornea. The line includes I-DROP®VET GEL, a preservative-free drop for severe dry eye and I-DROP® VET PLUS designed for acute or seasonal dry eye.
Eliminating tear stains
Many products designed to prevent tear staining (even those without Tylosin) contain chemicals that can sting and burn the eyes.
The ideal cleansing product will also hydrate the skin around the eyes while preventing contact between the porphyrin and the animal’s fur. This can be accomplished with a daily application of I-LID N LASH® VET – an ocular hygiene cleanser that works to prevent tear stains and eliminate facial fold odors, while soothing and hydrating the eyelids and surrounding skin.
Take the time to get to the root of tear stains so you can confidently recommend safe and effective products that will help your patients look and feel their best!
3Geis, Philip A. (2006). Cosmetic Microbiology: A Practical Approach, CRC Press.
Vanessa Poulin is an Animal Health Specialist at I-MED Animal Health. She believes education is key to ensure veterinarians and technicians are giving optimal care and treatment for our companion animals. She offers training sessions to veterinary students, veterinarians and technicians explaining the science behind keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry Eye Disease), and how various molecules/ingredients may help treat this disease. With a B.S in Microbiology from University Laval, she previously worked in a lab researching human genetics before she switched to work in the animal health industry.