Tear stains in the poodle dog breed
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Tear stains in the poodle dog breed

Dogs
Health & Safety

The poodle dog breed is perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable of all common and popular breeds, particularly if the poodle in question is large and sporting a full lion clip or show clip. However, poodle hybrids are even more popular today than pedigree poodles, with common favourites such as the cockapoo and Labradoodle being common sights out and about in the UK.

This means that not only are there a reasonable number of poodles around in the UK but also that a large percentage of cross bred dogs also have poodle ancestry and as such, will sometimes share similar traits and tendencies, including those relating to hereditary health and conformation problems.

One such issue that affects a reasonable number of poodles and to a significant but lesser extent, breeds with one poodle parent is tear staining, which can both stain and discolour the fur around the dog’s eyes, and also potentially indicate a general problem with the eyes and tear ducts.

In this article we will look at tear stains in the poodle dog breed (and poodle hybrids too) and why they occur, what can be done about them, and how much of a problem they really are. Read on to learn more.

What are tear stains?

Tear stains occur when the lubrication in your dog’s eyes runs down onto the fur of their face, usually from the inner corner of the eyes. Dog’s eyes are naturally moist and require tears to keep them lubricated, but depending on how much lubrication is produced and the shape and angle of your dog’s eyes, this fluid may pool under the corners of the eyes.

Bacteria that is naturally present on the skin and coat of your dog then feed on the tear secretions, which leads to the discolouration that is often a trait of tear staining. This is usually a rusty or brown colour, which cannot simply be wiped off and often form a stain.

Why do tear stains occur?

Tear staining can occur for various different reasons, and usually depend on a combination of traits being present.

If your dog produces too much fluid from their lacrimal ducts (the tear ducts, responsible for providing lubrication to the eyes) this has to go somewhere, and can lead to the dog’s eyes having a very moist and shiny appearance, and of course, tears running from the corners of the eyes.

Additionally, if your dog’s tear ducts are too narrow, this can lead to pooling of fluid in the corners of the eyes and again, running down. The angle of your dog’s eyes and so, the angle at which the tear ducts lie and the shape of your dog’s face in general may also affect how much tears tend to pool, and where they run down the face.

Allergies, infections and anything else that affects the eyes and ears, nose and throat can of course worsen the problem, or cause tear staining in a dog that is not otherwise prone to it.

Why is the poodle often affected by tear staining?

Tear staining tends to be more of a problem in some breeds than others, and in the poodle the problem often arises because the poodle’s lacrimal ducts tend to be on the narrow side, which in turn causes pooling in the corners of the eyes that then tracks down the face, becoming discoloured over time as it comes into contact with skin bacteria.

How much of a problem is tear staining?

Tear staining is not something that your dog is really aware of, and it is more of a cosmetic issue for the owner than it is a problem for the dog. However, if the problem is caused by or worsened by allergies, getting the allergies under control is important in order to ensure that the dog’s quality of life remains good.

Infections and other problems that can cause tear stains also need to be resolved, and of course if your dog has a conformation issue that affects their vision or comfort, this will need treatment too.

Can you do anything about it?

It is a good idea to get your vet to check out your dog’s eyes in the first instance, in order to confirm that their eyes are healthy and that their tear staining is not a symptom of a larger problem.

As long as your vet is happy with the situation, there is usually nothing that needs to be done, but of course keeping your dog’s eyes clean and wiping them over with a clean, soft cloth daily will help.

When it comes to preventing or removing tear staining, keeping the fur immediately under their eyes short can lessen the effect of staining, and you can buy wipes designed to reduce the staining itself, although these are only of limited effectiveness.

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