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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Poodle Eye




Condition Overview

This problem, in which brown stains appear at the corner of the eye, is common to several toy breeds including Toy Poodles, Lhasa Apsos, Maltese, Pomeranians, Pekingese, and others. This is primarily a cosmetic problem.


Reddish-brown stains will be found on the fur descending from the dogs eyes.


The exact cause of tear overflow in these breeds is unknown. One theory is that susceptible breeds have a pooling space that is too small to collect a lake of tears. Tears contain chemicals that react with light to produce reddish-brown stains. The staining will be more apparent in dogs whose haircut is light colored or white.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination.


The dog's appearance can be improved for cosmetic purposes by plucking the stained hairs or clipping them close to the face. Daily cleaning alone will decrease, but not eliminate the discoloration. Stains can be removed by bathing the area with a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide (1:10). Apply the solution to a Q-tip to be sure peroxide does not get into the eyes.

Do not use chlorine bleach for the eye stains! The fumes are painful and may cause chemical conjunctivitis. Bleach in a dogs eye can cause serious injury leading up to blindness. Commercial grooming wipes are also available to help with year stains.

Poodle eye often improves when the dog is given a course of tetracycline, which is secreted in the tears and binds the photochemicals that cause the staining. The face remains wet but is not discolored. Tetracycline is given orally for 3 weeks. If the staining returns after the antibiotic is stopped, long-term antibiotics can be considered. One option is to add low dose tetracycline to the dog's food daily.

Surgery is another alternative. The operation involves removing part of the tear gland of the third eyelid. While this reduces tear volume and makes a better tear lake, it does carry the risk of producing a dry eye. Removal of the tear gland should only be considered if the Schirmer tear test shows that the strip wets more than 15mm per minute. After the surgery, dogs may still develop keratoconjunctivitis Sicca later in life.


Daily cleaning alone will decrease, but not eliminate the discoloration.


Please contact your veterinarian or a professional pet grooming facility to assist you in cleaning up the tear stains.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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