Epiphora or excessive tear production causes tear stains in dogs. Tear staining is most common in small dog breeds such as Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, and Maltese, among others. While tear stains are not harmful to your dog, they may be indicative of some existing problems, including corneal ulcerations, stress, bacterial growth, a PH imbalance, poor diet, or ear infections. However, if Chihuahua tear stains smell bad and somehow look more brownish, it could be a symptom of a yeast infection.
Chihuahua Tear Stains Remediation
Chihuahuas are more predisposed to tear stains because of the shape of their round protruding eyes. So, to prevent potential infections in your Chi and ensure she always looks her best, you should maintain the best practices of Chihuahua eye care. Below are some Chihuahua eye care tips and how clean tear stains:
Consider Changing the Diet
Sometimes, feeding your Chi with a poor diet or including an ingredient that she is allergic to (even it’s of good quality) can cause tear staining. So, just changing what you feed your dog or some of the ingredients that seem to irk her may help stop the tear staining. For instance, you can try changing the protein source; if she’s been feeding on a beef-based diet, try a chicken diet.
Essentially, changing the diet you feed your dog means changing the chemical makeup of the tears she produces. In other words, you’re trying to make the tears less staining. The tear stains on your Chihuahua have that “rusty” appearance because they contain porphyrins (waste products) that oxidize when exposed to air. While normal tears can also stain, it’s advisable to ensure that your dog only feeds on healthy, quality food.
Your dog can benefit from different types of raw and cooked foods, including oysters, rice, blueberries, kidneys, liver. Consult with a holistic vet who can help you formulate the right diet for your Chi. Remember, it might even up to 30 days before you start noticing any significant changes in the tear staining if the problem was indeed resulting from the type of diet.
Ensure Your Dog’s Water is Always Clean
The water you provide for your dog could be another cause of the tear staining. Always make sure her water is purified or distilled. Tap water that contains minerals such as chlorine, parasites, and weird bacteria is not recommended. Drinking stagnant water in your backyard or at the parks is even worse. In essence, you should avoid providing your dog with water that is potentially toxic.
Filtered water that doesn’t contain toxins and cancer-causing agents is a good alternative. Consider adding some apple cider vinegar to your Chihuahua’s water. Remember, you should only add apple cider vinegar to the water to kill bacteria if your dog is comfortable with it. Otherwise, you might risk sending her to the backyard or other wrong places where she can quench her thirst.
Maintain High Face Hygiene
Ensure that the facial hair of your Chi is dry at all times and that her eyes are clean. Use the right canine eyewash to flush your Chi’s eyes regularly. You simply moisten a cotton ball with the appropriate eyewash and rub her eye area gently. Wash the Chihuahua’s muzzle hair with a wet cloth and dry shampoo. Avoid irritating her eyes when cleaning them with suds or shampoo.
Trim the Long Hair
Chihuahuas are known to have long hairs on their faces. If the hair is not properly trimmed, it can irritate their eyes and cause them to produce more tears. Use the right pair of scissors and work very carefully to avoid injuring your Chihuahua’s tender eyelids.
For the safety of your dog, or if you’re not comfortable grooming your Chi because she can’t hold still, consider finding a professional dog groomer near you. If the dog is prone to crusting around the eye area or corners, ask the dog groomer to carefully rake and shave off all the hair around the eyes so you can be able to clean her effectively.
Cornstarch has proven to be very effective in absorbing the excess tears that small dogs produce and getting rid of tear staining. Follow these steps when using cornstarch:
- Mix a small amount of apple vinegar with two teaspoons of cornstarch and some hot water
- Allow the mixture to sit and cool down for a while
- Apply the mixture to your dog’s tear stains and allow it dry for about an hour
- Wipe it away gently with a wet washcloth
- Repeat the procedure after every 2-3 weeks
Alternatively, you can apply the cornstarch underneath your dog’s eyes and between the toes to keep them dry and thus prevent staining. Cornstarch can also be mixed with milk of magnesia and 3% hydrogen peroxide to make a creamy paste. The paste can then be applied to the tears stains and wiped away after a few hours to remove the tear stains.
You must be very careful when trying the cornstarch approach, especially if you choose to use bleach instead of vinegar; if the mixture gets into her eyes, it can cause serious irritation and excessive production of tears.
Prevent Yeast Infection
In some cases, Chihuahuas that experience severe tear staining are suffering from yeast infections. Therefore, it helps to try and get to the root of the tear staining problem. Your best bet is consulting your vet to find out whether your dog has a yeast infection or not.
Meanwhile, you should always follow your vet’s instructions and research widely on how to prevent bacterial infections in your Chihuahua. While it’s advisable to try out some tear stain products, you ought to be very careful about the ingested antibiotics. Such products could kill beneficial bacteria and create superbugs in your dog.
Regardless of whether your Chihuahua has light-colored fur or is dark, she is likely to show tear staining. The dark streaks of tear staining will seem more noticeable when she is outdoors than when indoors. For both cosmetic and medical purposes, you must always keep the hair on your Chihuahua’s face dry at all times. If this information was helpful for Chihuahua eye care and how to keep her healthy at all times, feel free to drop a comment below!
Dr. Belinda Hawks earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2006 and has been practicing veterinary medicine since then. Dr. Belinda currently works as a passionate rancher and mixed animal veterinarian in a rural town in South Carolina. When not practicing veterinary medicine or writing, she spends her free time with her lovely husband and three kids (2 boys and a lovely girl) in South Carolina.