Click here to visit the most complete Maltese site on the WWW
Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that most of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinary medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.
Archived Message

Tear Staining
by Sue
Tear Staining We just got a maltese puppy last week ("Maggie" - born November 14th). She is a doll (house breaking a little intense, of course!) She is so-oo adorable looking BUT really has tear staining bad! I tried just using a cotton ball & water, but doesn't even come close to removing. I am afraid to buy the stuff on the market for fear it will hurt her in some way. Is this condition just something that comes with the territory for maltese, or is there a daily simple solution to this problem. Also, when do you start taking puppies to the groomer? I heard that keeping the hair short around the eye area helps with this problem so am anxious to take her to be groomed, but she certainly doesn't need a hair cut yet! Thanks for any help, I want to be a good maltese mom and get off to a good start!


Congratulations Sue & Maggie! Sue you are just going to love being a maltese mom. Sounds like you're out to a great start already!

Regarding tear staining, you'll find lots of information on the subject (check out the Maltese Only archives). My Shelby has a real tear staining problem. I've taken her to the vet where she was prescribed an antibiotic...didn't work. I used over the counter drops which also didn't work. My next step is to have the vet check out her tear ducts, they could be clogged or closed - I haven't done this yet. As far as removing the stains, I haven't had much luck. I've tried several different recipes but none have worked well for her. I just wash her face every evening using non-tearing dog shampoo. That seems to help, at least it removes the crusty build up and some of the stain. I've noticed through this forum that each maltese reacts differently to cures and stain removal. Your little girl may react well to one of these methods. Good luck and keep us posted on how things are going with your new fur baby!
Sandy (Shelby & Heather)

Sue, congratulations on your new baby. Tearstaining is a problem with these little guys/gals. But if you aren't showing them and it isn't a health problem don't worry about it. I wash Busters face when I bathe him and use Four Paws Crystal Eyes once a week. It was bad when I first got him at 16 wks but now at 6 mos. it is doing better. Good luck
Libby& Buster
dear sue & maggie: congratulations on your new presious baby! your letter made me remember by first days with my ali. in my opinion -- please do not clip the hair around her eyes. keep in mind, that when the hair grows it pokes into the eye and can cause more problems! that is just my opinion, but you should check with your veterinarian. please give maggie a big love for me!
Sue, Congratulations on your new sweet little baby. My maltese use to have quite a problem with tear staining also. She didn't develop it until she was about a year old but when she did it was pretty bad. I tried everything too and the best luck I had was with a product called Diamond Eye, but even then I had limited success and it didn't stop the cause so of course it kept staining over and over. At the time I kept her coat long and I didn't really believe her hair was the problem because I was very conscientious about keeping her top hair up and out of her eyes. However, after months of battling this staining and seeing my little sweetheart with a wet face almose constantly, I let the groomer cut the hair around her eyes. Well, I don't know if it was just a coincidence or what but she has not had ANY problem with tear staining in the last 2 years! I agree it would be important that you watch the hair by her eyes so it doesn't get so long it starts to poke into her eyes but all I can say is this worked for us. I sometimes look back at pictures of Angel and I can tell right away which pictures were taken during her "staining period." Now her face is always clean and dry.
Sandee M.
There are a couple of things to try. One is Collyrium, bought at the larger drug/department chains, which has worked along with keeping the hair near the eyes trimmed well (let the groomer do it). Neither of my little guys have the staining. I might be finding out that my littlest guy is allergic to the Collyrium though. He constantly itches his face, so I'm stopping it for a few days to see if that is the cause - I hope not. Good luck
Hi Sue, Congratulations to you and Maggie. Yup, tearstaining is a problem with these babies. I just had my Bailey groomed and they cleaned up her eye area really good so I recently saw an article that suggested giving these babies 1/2 Tums in the morning and 1/2 in the evening. I'm trying that now and we will see how it works - something about changing the balance in their eye moisture. Who knows, there are so many different approaches I guess I just keep trying different things and maybe, something will work. In the meantime just try to keep the area dry and maybe try the Diamond Eye also. Have fun with your new baby!
Robin D.
Sue I thought i would share my experience with tear staining. My Ellie is now 10 mths old and used to have bad staining. At around 6 -7 months i took her to the vet because she constantly had a wet patch on the bridge of her nose. The vet informed me that it was coming from her eye and that her tear ducts were probably blocked or didn't exist. I was hesitant to have them flushed out but I went with his advise. It took about 2 - 3 weeks after the flushing for me to see a remarkable inprovement. She now has hardly no staining and I am very very happy with the results. The vet also mentioned that you should not cut the hair away from their eyes because when it grows back the ends are blunts and irritate their eyes. He suggested that if I cut it I keep it very short all the time so that it doesn't go in her eyes. I hope this info helps.
Sue and Maggie! I can relate to you feelings about being a new Maltese Mom. I Brought Max hom on November 26th...he is now 17 weeks old and I just brought home Lizzy 2 weeks ago and she is 8 weeks home...I LOVE THEM!! Max has tears stains and I have tried everything I have read. To no avail until I started trimming the eye hair. It has helped alot! I watch for the short hairs growing twoards the eye and keep them short buy so far no trouble. Luckily my little Lizzy is a non-tear stained baby! Beautiful white face all the time...but her fur is a bit more course and wooly than Max. He is very silky, as the standard says they should be. Does anyone know if that could have anything to do with it the tearing problem, the texture of their hair? Also (a little off the subject) will the wooley type hair become more silky? Thanks! And good luck Sue! My Max is wonderful even with tear stains and I bet your Maggie is too!
Sue - Am glad you are enjoying your new puppy. Some Maltese seem to eyestain all their lives and others never stain. Have never been ablr to figure it out and have always assumed it had something to do with genetics. Just a guess on my part. Do not use tetracycline on your puppy until she is at least one year old - it can damage her teeth. My first Maltese always stained and I had my vet flush her tearducts and she never stained again. Most puppies stain while they are teething and usually stop after their permanent teeth are in. I personally do not cut the hair around the eyes because I like the expression much better with longer beard. I use a product by Wella, called Kolestral, that I get at Sally Beauty Supply to both condition and keep the hair out of their eyes. Another product that works well is called Silicone Glove. With that on the hair, the moisture from the eyes just rolls off. Another thing that helps is whitening shampoo. Just get a small bottle and use it only on the stains as it will dry out the coat. You also need to put conditioner on the beard where you use this shampoo. Good luck
Marie,I have a question about the product you mentioned called Collyrium. I was looking at it in the drug store the other day. It has boric acid as one of the ingredients. I assume it is a very little amount. I also assume it is perfectly safe to use, since humans apparently have no problem with it. I told a friend I was going to try it. She said "Well, chocolate doesn't hurt humans but does hurt dogs." I thought that was a good point.

My question to you is, have you checked with your vet to make sure it is perfectly safe. From your posts you seem very thorough. Please don't take this the wrong way. I know you love your "baby" and would do nothing to hurt him. But I would like to know if a vet has said it was o.k. Thanks,
Pam R.

Boric acid solution is indeed safe for pets, just be sure not to get it in their mouth. I have been using Gimborn Eye Clean, a boric acid base & it works fairly well. The vet said this is a good thing to use. Once a week I put the drops directly into her eye, the rest of the time I just wipe down the stained area and I just make sure that I rinse the area when I am done. Phoebe is now five months old and her stains are lessening! I have noticed that a couple of her adult teeth are about to break through where the puppy teeth were pulled & have no idea if this is the cause or not!
Leslie R
Pam, as for the Collyrium, it was recommended by my breeder (she breeds for show) and I've been using it on Baxter since I got him almost two years ago. It's great on him. Now, my new baby, Rudy, is allergic to something and it's driving me (and him) crazy! He itches his face constantly. I've eliminated the bedding issue, then I suspected that Collyrium was the culprit, but he's still itching after I stopped using it). I haven't changed food (although they can develop allergic reactions to old stuff) and from what I can see in his mouth when he allows me to look, nothing in there is wrong. Today I made an app't with the vet for Thursday night and I'll ask him about the Collyrium and post the answer.

Thanks for the comment on my thoroughness, but I don't think I'll share it with my husband... he tells the vet (we're there quite often - with 4 animals) that I would step over him laying on the floor with a broken leg to get an animal to the vet!! I'll let you know what the vet says.

Dear Sue,I think that the first step u should take is to start putting Maggie's hair up in a pony as soon as possible. As for cutting the hair, I think that if you do, you'll find that it does work, but in order to do this you should also cut the hair in between your puppy's hair, ruining all hope of a beautiful topnot. The method currantly use sounds a bit harsh, but it works, and my Toby has never been hurt by it. At least once a weak, i absorb hydrogen Peroxide into a cotton ball and use it to clean the fur around his eyes, and I reassure u that I am VERY VERY careful while doing this. As soon as it dries, Toby is a happy and clean-faced puppy again. It works wonders. To my knowledge, there is nothing that can cure tear staining completely, but if you know of a way, please inform me at . Well, I hope I have been of some help to you. Good Luck :)
Pam R., I couldn't wait until tomorrow night to get Rudy to the vet so I called and got him in this morning and went to work late. I won't go into Rudy's possible allergies because this post is about tearstaining and I don't want to get off the subject. I asked the vet about Collyrium (in fact, I toted along with me a bag of stuff that comes in contact with my little guy from chewies to shampoo to his bedding...). He said nothing in the Collyrium would hurt him even the boric acid. I'm not using it now just because we have to eliminate EVERYTHING, then introduce stuff back one at a time to find out what's going on. Collyrium has kept Baxter's eyes beautiful for two years and I can't wait to get them both back on it. (P.S. I've tried other eyewashes - Bausch & Lomb etc. and nothing is like the Collyrium). Hope this helps.
After reading information on this site 2 months ago, I decided to take Dexter off Science Diet Lamb and Rice and put him on CA Natural Lamb and rice. We noticed a difference right away. Take a look at the food you are using. Place a piece on paper towel and moisten. After awhile is it red? What I found was that SD has some coloring in it and the other doesn't. My guy loves the food. If you switch food do it gradually. Additionally I clean eyes daily with water and crystal eye using a Q-tip. This has really worked for us. Hope this helps.
Linda K
Marie, Thanks for the info. I went & got some Collyrium and started using it today. I watched them for a while after putting it in the see if they had any kind of reaction and so far so good. Good luck with the possible allergy problem. Keep us posted on that. By the way, I know this question is about tearstaining, but from what I have read, their food could possibly have something to do with it. If you basically have no problems with the tearstaining anymore, I would be very interested to know what kind of food YOU give your babies. Thanks again, Pam

P.S. - Your comment about your husband was extremely "close to home". I'm sure most of us "Moms" are like that! I know I am.
Pam R.

I have heard that cutting teeth aggrivates the staining, well - here's my observation. Phoebe has had a staining problem and I clean her face every day with the same stuff - I noticed Monday that there was less intensity to her stains - that night I found that one of her adult teeth was right at the gum - Tuesday she cut her first adult tooth - yesterday I could have not bothered with her face as it was as good as after cleaning it the day before! Same thing today! WOW!
Leslie R
Thanks everyone for the replies. I bought the Collyrium. I put it on Maggie with a cotton ball and tried to use my fingers to "work" it into the hair, but nothing much happens! I then "rinsed" it off with water and still nothing much. I am afraid of being too rough in that delicate eye area. Do you dilute the Collyrium with water when you apply it and how do you apply it and how often? Thanks again for all the input!
Sue, give the Collyrium some time. I don't think it is supposed to "bleach" it per se. The stains probably have to grow out. I think the Collyrium helps KEEP the area clean after the stains have grown out. I soak about half the cotton ball with it then dab at the inner corner of the eye where it tears. It will run down the side of the face a little, but don't use so much that it runs into the mouth. If it does, don't worry, it won't hurt them, it probably tastes bad though. I then take a flea comb and, starting at the inner corner, comb out and down taking the "eye cookies" (pardon the nickname) out of the hair. Then I take a dry cotton ball and soak up any residue Then comb the full face with the metal comb. Good luck, it'll take time if your babies already have stains..

Pam R, I know I'm going to be criticized, chastized, scolded and ridiculed, and I'm cringing at the reaction I'm going to get, but my breeder had them both on Pedigree when I brought them home and while I have occasionally tried other stuff (mostly "designer" brands when someone has said their stuff is the best), I come back to Pedigree Lamb and Rice. Baxter gets his mixed with a little bit of canned and Rudy is on the Pedigree Puppy Lamb and I might mix it with a few drops of water. My vet the other day said it was fine. He also commented, by the way, on that article in Consumer Reports saying that the "study" they did served no one but the makes of cheap dog food as they were rated cheapest to most expensive. Sorry I got so wordy here. Marie

I have read all the messages posted and noticed no one mentioned anything about the WATER they drink. I have a 8 month old, named Jillian. She's had a staining problem since I brought her home. I have tried, Diamond Eye, no luck... Recently on a trip to NYC, I met a woman who's mother and father breed Maltese. She suggested changing the drinking water to Distilled Water. I first started with Spring Water for about 1 week and noticed improvements. Then today, I switched to Distilled. I also trim inbetween her eyes every 2-3 days. I will give you an update on how the distilled water is working. The gal from NYC highly recommended using Distilled Water. Hope this helps... Jillian's Mom, Janet
Janet Pringle

Copyright 1998 © Jay Bianco All rights reserved.