tear stain removal
(St.Peters, Mo. USA)
Question: My white female has red tear stains. How do I remove them?
Tear stains on the face of your beautiful furbaby can be discouraging, but the appearance of reddish or dark streaks along the sides of the nose is common with Shih Tzus.
Tear stains are probably not an indicator of a health problem, but do have your vet take a look just in case. It’s possible your pet is overproducing tears due to a blocked duct or abnormally shaped eyes.
Part of a Shih Tzu’s brachycephalic charm is that their eye sockets are shallow and very prominent on the face. In this position their eyes must produce a lot of moisture to maintain proper health. To make things worse their short little snouts and long hair make it almost impossible for excess water to drain away from the face.
Moisture gets trapped in the hair, attracts dirt and dust, makes a mess and creates a bad smell.
There is some controversy regarding whether or not a change in food and water can alleviate the problem. According to Pet MD, probiotics (which are found in yogurt) can be helpful in reducing tear stains. If you live in an area where hard water leaves red or dark stains on your tub and sink it’s possible that switching to distilled water could be helpful.
If you’re not already feeding your Shih Tzu a high-quality, wheat-free food I recommend a change.
Once you’ve established that your pet’s in good health and receiving good nutrition there are a few other steps you can take to reduce the appearance of tear stains.
- Ask your groomer to keep the fur below your Shih Tzu’s eyes clipped short.
- Clean the area twice a day with a cotton ball dipped in warm water. Use one cotton ball per eye.
- Dry the area as thoroughly as possible and apply a thin dab of petroleum jelly. The jelly will prevent water from soaking into the fur.
- Use a non-antibiotic cleaning product to remove stains. Be aware that some ingested and external tear-stain removal products contain antibiotics. Giving your dog antibiotics unnecessarily promotes the same health risks as it does for humans. Your dog could become resistant to antibiotics, leading to big problems if he ever actually needed them. Also, tear-stain removal products are meant to be used every day for the rest of your dog’s life. Antibiotics are not.
Few breeds can match the loyalty, devotion and all around adorable nature of the Shih Tzu. But all that love and companionship does come with a small price tag; Shih Tzus require almost daily grooming.
Feed your dog the best wheat-free food you can afford and incorporate tear-stain hygiene as part of your grooming regimen. You may never completely eliminate your dog’s tear stains but with regular care you can greatly reduce them and allow your Shih Tzu’s natural beauty to shine through.