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Some dog breeds like the Maltese are particularly prone to excessive tearing, which can cause reddish-brown staining under the eyes. Several commercial products and common household ingredients can be used to remove the tear stains. Pet owners should be aware that the marks will reappear if the root cause is not treated. Maltese tear stains can be caused by many different factors, including mineral-rich drinking water, blocked tear ducts, and fleas.
Pet owners can try removing Maltese tear stains with commercial products intended for that purpose. Directions for use will vary depending on the selected product, so you should carefully read the label's instructions. Otherwise, some household products may also remove the tear stains. When using any product, homemade or commercial, be very careful to avoid getting these substances in the dog's eyes. In addition to applying a tear stain remover, the dog's face should be regularly washed to avoid re-staining.
Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and milk of magnesia, and then add just enough cornstarch to make a thick paste. This paste should be applied carefully to the Maltese tear stains and massaged into the fur. After allowing it to dry overnight, the Maltese owner should then wash it out well and apply a dog fur conditioner. Several applications may be needed to completely remove the Maltese tear stains.
After treating the dog's tear stains, pet owners should talk to a veterinarian about the possible underlying causes. In some cases, the dog's tear ducts could be blocked, which may be linked to genetics. The Maltese will likely need to undergo surgery to have the tear ducts opened so that they can be irrigated properly.
If blocked tear ducts are not the cause of the dog's tear stains, the veterinarian may recommend antibiotics. Tylosin and tetracycline are used to combat Maltese tear stains. Follow all of your veterinarian's dosage instructions carefully. It is not generally recommended that antibiotics are used on a long-term basis. A veterinarian may also prescribe eye drops or ointments intended for use in the eye to help prevent excessive tearing.
Maltese tear stains may sometimes be caused by mineral-rich water. Using bottled water for the dog may help. Pet owners might also put a small amount of white vinegar into the dog's water, with the approval of the veterinarian. Other environmental factors might include fleas, which can cause irritation and can also stain the fur with waste products, so pet owners should work with the veterinarian to control them.
I have also heard that diet can contribute to the reddish tear stains. It has been attributed to dyes in the pet food. I talked with a woman at a dog show who had a Maltese and asked her about it. She said she changed her dog's diet to "white" or undyed foods. She fed broiled chicken and/or turkey breast, rice and so forth, and said that really helped. She said her vet helped her design a diet that was nutritionally sound, and didn't include foods that would color the tears.
It's certainly something to try, and cheaper than surgery to check for blocked tear ducts.
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