Does your Maltese has reddish-brown streaks under their eyes?
These stubborn marks, otherwise known as tear stains, can occur in many dog breeds but are particularly noticeable in Maltese dogs. While they may not pose a health risk, tear stains can be unsightly and cause discomfort or irritation if left untreated.
Here’s everything you need to know about Maltese tear stains and how to manage them.
What causes Maltese tear stains?
Before anything else, you need to understand why tear stains occur. It’s also recommended to see a veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.
One of the main causes of tear stains is excessive tearing (epiphora). Tears contain a natural iron-based pigment called porphyrin, which can easily stain the fur of light-colored dogs like Maltese.
Excessive tearing can occur due to various reasons such as teething, eye or ear infections, blocked tear ducts, and even allergies to certain foods or environmental irritants (pollen, dust mites, mold, etc.).
Another cause of tear stains is genetics. Some dogs (especially small dogs with short snouts and shallow eye sockets) are simply more prone to developing tear staining due to their genetic makeup.
This includes Maltese, Shih Tzus, Yorkshire Terriers, Bichon Frises, and other breeds.
Less common causes of tear stains include eye structure abnormalities, eye injuries, and certain medical conditions such as conjunctivitis.
How to remove Maltese tear stains?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, here are some of the things you can try to remove tear stains:
One simple yet effective method is to use a tear stain comb to gently remove any crust or debris from the eyes. These combs have small, fine teeth that are designed to carefully lift any build-up without pulling or tugging at the hair.
It’s important to be gentle and patient while using the comb as this is a highly delicate and sensitive area.
If there’s still discoloration after using a tear stain comb, take a small amount of gentle cleanser such as baby shampoo and gently rub it into the stained area using a soft cloth or a cotton pad, but make sure not to get any of it in your dog’s eyes
Whitening shampoos and tear stain removers can also be used to help lighten and remove stains. That said, never use hair dyes or products containing bleach to treat tear stains.
Personally, I’ve found that using eye wipes is the easiest and most convenient option.
Again, remember to always start from the inner corner of the eye and gently wipe outwards, using a fresh wipe for each eye to avoid cross-contamination, and take care not to apply too much pressure or rub vigorously.
How to prevent Maltese tear stains?
The most effective way to eliminate tear stains is by keeping your Maltese’s face clean and dry. Regularly trimming the hair around their eyes is also key as it prevents irritation and excessive tearing.
Plus, ensuring that the eye area is clean and tidy can prevent bacteria and yeast from accumulating and worsening the problem.
In addition, you need to pay close attention to what you feed your Maltese. Certain ingredients, including artificial food dyes (and in some cases, certain proteins and grains) can contribute not only to tear stains but to other skin issues, too.
If your dog eats chicken-based dog food, it may be worth trying a different protein source such as fish or lamb to see if that makes a difference.
In fact, some pet owners have found success by switching their Maltese to a limited or grain-free diet.
Eye care supplements that contain cranberry or grape seed extract, lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids may also be helpful in reducing tear staining, while distilled or filtered water can help minimize iron (and other mineral) deposits that cause discoloration.
Lastly, regular visits to the veterinarian for check-ups and eye examinations are essential for maintaining good eye health. Your vet can provide advice on preventing tear stains and recommend any necessary treatments or dietary changes.
It’s best to avoid giving your Maltese any over-the-counter medications or antibiotics without consulting a professional first.
Home remedies for Maltese tear stains
If you prefer to use home remedies, there are a few options you can consider. Yet, keep in mind that each dog is unique, and what works for one might not work for another.
This is an excellent alternative to Talc and can be used to help absorb moisture and reduce tear staining. Simply sprinkle a small amount of corn flour onto your tear stain comb and gently brush it through your Maltese’s hair, focusing on the stained areas.
Witch hazel can also be used as a drying agent and it even has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe any irritation or redness caused by tear staining.
Another popular home remedy involves using chamomile tea as an eye rinse. Brew a cup of chamomile tea, allow it to cool, and then use a clean cloth or cotton ball soaked in the tea to gently wipe the tear-stained area.
Chamomile has soothing properties that can reduce inflammation and irritation, and it may even help lighten the appearance of tear stains over time.
Aloe vera and coconut oil
If you don’t have chamomile tea on hand, try using natural aloe vera or liquid coconut oil instead!
Apple cider vinegar
Additionally, you can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your Maltese’s drinking water, which is believed to help with tear staining (among other things) by changing the pH levels in the body.
Some Maltese owners swear by using a 10% mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water as a tear stain remover. However, be cautious when using this as hydrogen peroxide is a very strong solution and can potentially be harmful if not used or diluted properly.
Dealing with tear stains can be frustrating. Luckily, taking regular care of your Maltese, including keeping their eyes clean and hair trimmed, and feeding them a proper diet can make a significant difference.
Similarly, using tear stain removers or natural remedies such as corn flour and chamomile may help remove existing stains and possibly prevent them from coming back.
As always, it’s a good idea to talk with your veterinarian before starting any new treatments that you’re unsure about.