How do I Clear Up my Shih Tzu’s Tear-Stained Facial Fur?

Dogs are the most popular types of pets in the entire world and are the most beloved animals. That is why they are even called man’s best friend in the first place. But there are plenty of different breeds of dogs that are all loved for their own unique qualities and attributes. And when it comes to toy dogs that come with the playful and cute demeanor that many different people love, the Shih Tzu is arguably the best.

Shih Tzu owners would say that there really are not a lot of problems you should worry about when taking care of one of these dogs. They are so easy to take care of, and they are also quite playful and clean despite their long hair. However, one problem that most Shih Tzu owners often face is how these dogs often leave stains coming from their tears. What are these stains, and what should you do to remove them?

What are tear stains

If you have a Shih Tzu, you will know that these dogs usually have a sort of discoloration around their eyes. This is more prominent in Shit Tzus that come with light colors as opposed to the ones with darker hair. But, in most cases, this dark coloration around the eyes is very much evident in a lot of different colors and types of Shih Tzu dogs.

But the coloration around the eyes of a Shih Tzu is actually quite normal. For one, there are some cases when they are not stains but merely part of the dog’s coat. If they are only a bit darker than the rest of the dog’s coat, then there is a good reason to believe that the colorations around the Shih Tzu’s eyes are not stains but are actually just part of its natural coloring.

However, if the color around the eyes of the dog was not present when the dog was still a puppy but developed later on while it was growing up, there is a good reason to believe that it is actually a stain coming from the Shih Tzu’s tears. This coloration may also spread out more or become more intense as the dog grows older. And if you feel the hairs around the eyes, they should have hardened crispiness that is not normal and is not quite the same as the rest of the Shih Tzu’s coat.

Other indications that the coloration may, in fact, be tear stains include runny and watery discharge from the Shih Tzu’s eyes. The hairs around the dog’s eyes should also appear to be damp as if the dog had just taken a bath. And though it is not always the case, you may also notice some sort of discoloration around the dog’s chin or beard.

What are the causes of these tear stains?

Of course, as the term suggests, tear stains are actually caused by the Shih Tzu’s tears. It happens when they tear up too much due to having runny eyes, and the tears start running down the eyes and build up in the area surrounding the dog’s eyes. The tears won’t always be noticeable to owners because of how it may happen in a slow and gradual manner.

The tears can leave a stain on the area around the dog’s eyes because of how substances in tears tend to build up there. Such substances are called porphyrins, which are molecules that come from how red blood cells are broken down further. These molecules can be found in the dog’s excretions, such as their tears, saliva, and urine. That is why dogs will also have discolored hair in the parts of their coat that they often lick. The porphyrins in its saliva will build up and cause some sort of discoloration in the same way as tears build up around the dog’s eyes to cause discoloration.

The discoloration around the Shih Tzu’s eyes can actually intensify if the hairs are damp and are infected by red yeast. This will make the stain even darker and more pronounced than it was before.

What you have to consider here is that, while tears are normal for any kind of dog, there are some cases when the Shih Tzu may be tearing up more than it should. This may be attributable to the following:

  • Your dog may be tearing up due to an allergic reaction to its food or to its immediate environment.
  • Some chemicals in the dog’s food may be causing a reaction that causes it to tear up more than it should. The same could be said about your Shih Tzu’s food and water bowls, as they may contain chemicals that can cause your pet to tear up more.
  • The air may be full of eye irritants that can cause the dog to tear up more the same way as you would actually tear up more when there is something wrong with the air.
  • The tearing may be caused by an eye infection or an eye disease that you should prompt you to have your Shih Tzu checked by a veterinarian.

How to remove the tear stains?

Removing the tear stains should not be restricted to actually removing the stains on the area around the Shih Tzu’s eyes. Instead, you should have a more well-rounded approach that will actually remove the stains and prevent the occurrence of the stains for a long period of time. As such, you should look at removing the triggers that are causing the Shih Tzu to tear up, using a remover that can actually clear the stains, and maintaining a routine that could prevent stains in the future.

First off, you have to look at the possible triggers that are affecting your dog to make it tear up more than it should. You have to eliminate triggers one by one to see if the dog’s condition is improving. Try changing its diet to see if it was its food that was causing it to tear up. You may also want to switch up to a different type of food or water bowl. The air around the dog may also be affecting it. At the worst, it may be suffering from a sort of illness or condition. In such a case, you should promptly take it to a vet to have it checked and treated.

Second, removing the stains can be done using the following methods:

  • Wiping the stains with a wet cloth for about two to three times a day or as needed. You should go to a pet store or to a vet to ask for a good canine tear stain wipe that can effectively remove the stains around your Shih Tzu’s eyes in a safe manner.
  • However, if the stains were already intensified by a yeast infection such as when they already appear reddish, you may need to ask your vet for another product that is stronger but still safe. Make sure that it does not contain any harmful chemicals or has no bleach or peroxide.

Lastly, you should make sure that you maintain the color around the dog’s eyes by doing the following:

  • Continue to wipe the area around the eyes using the same solution or product that you used even though it may have already returned to normal.
  • Change the dog’s water and try using safe drinking water that does not have any chemicals that can cause the discoloration around the eyes.
  • Make sure that the triggers that are causing the Shih Tzu to tear up have actually been eliminated permanently.
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Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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