Best Dog Food for Tear Stains

Have you, like countless other dog lovers (any Maltese lovers in the house?), battled those ugly tear stains with little success? With proper grooming, the Maltese tends to be one of the most beautiful small breed dogs out there…but their pretty face is often marred by those unsightly stains. Keep reading and our tests will reveal the best dog food for tear stains.

It’s only natural to wonder if the dog food you are providing them has something to do with it.

It is one of the most common discussions out there among Maltese owners:

“Can a dog’s food cause problems with eye drainage? So, after going through four bags of quality (all 5-star) grain-free kibble, she’s got major staining going on. “ 

Ramona72

It is one of the most common discussions out there among Maltese owners:

“Can a dog’s food cause problems with eye drainage? So, after going through four bags of quality (all 5-star) grain-free kibble, she’s got major staining going on. “ 

Ramona72

and:

“Eye stains are usually a sign of some sort of food intolerance or allergy. I have a dog in particular who gets massive staining when eating a pea-heavy food, which many grain-free kibbles qualify as. This dog gets no eye staining when eating a food who’s carbs are majority grain or majority potato-based.”

Anonymous

Oh, and this one…

“It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? You just keep trying all sorts of things, and none of them works! Glad to read that the grain-free food did the trick… Sadie is still on grain-free — every kibble I’ve given her is grain-free. I’m wondering now if it’s her treats?”

Jackie B

There is so much information out there! And so much of it is contradictory!

In this article, I am going to take a look at all this sometimes confusing information. My goal is to help you understand what is the best dog food for Maltese tear stains.

I’ll also take a look at some other factors that you may want to think about when taking steps to resolve those notorious red under-eye blotches.

What are Tear Stains in Dogs?

You know what dog tear stains are. That’s why you’re looking up the best dog food for tear stains! Those reddish-brown stains under your dog’s eye are unmistakable.

But what are they, really?

Where do they come from?

Why do they form?

Understanding the Stain

Porphyrins are molecules that contain iron (hence the reddish color). These are abundant in tears, saliva, and urine.

Your dog’s tears do not come out of their eyes tinted red. That would be really weird.

But when the tears accumulate on the fur around the eyes, those molecules start to build up.

This creates those nasty reddish-brown deposits. If your dog is in the sun a lot, the stains will darken and intensify.

Some experts think that the abundance of porphyrins your dog may have could be tied to liver toxins and general liver function.

According to Dr. Leo of Leo’s Pet Care, there are also suspicions of an interaction between a yeast called Malassezia (which is found on your dog’s skin and fur) and bacteria to produce additional porphyrins on your dog’s fur.

This means that for some dogs, a low-grade bacterial or yeast infection may also be an underlying factor in particularly stubborn cases of tear staining.

We’ll get back to all this later.

First, it’s important to look at all the potential causes of why your dog may be tearing up too much.

Other Medical Reasons for Dog Tearing

According to WebMD, there are a variety of other causes that could cause to your dog’s excessive tearing and eye stains. Some of these reasons are physical. They have nothing to do with your dog’s diet.

  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Oddly shaped eyelids
  • Excessive fur growth around the eyes
  • Abnormal eyelashes

Other reasons why your Maltese may have excessive tearing can include:

  • Allergies
  • Ulcers
  • Glaucoma

Of all these issues your dog may have, allergies are the only reason that may even be remotely related to the food you give your dog. 

You mustn’t diagnose your dog yourself.

Please, plan a trip to the vet to have their eyes examined. Make sure to rule out any underlying physical cause of your dog’s excessive tearing.

So now, about that food-tear connection.

How are Dog Tear Stains Caused by Diet?

One of the most common home remedies for tear stains begins with a change in diet for many Maltese owners.

This is because, as mentioned previously, excessive tearing can potentially be caused by: 

  • Allergies or food intolerance
  • The build of toxins in the liver
  • Excessive yeast production

For a lot of dogs, those allergies can be set off by dust, pollen, mites, or mold. Environmental allergies are really common in dogs. These should not be disregarded or misdiagnosed. Be sure to talk to your vet about what your pet could be allergic to.

Food Allergies or Intolerances?

Food allergies and intolerances are a common issue in many small breeds. Especially those with delicate appetites like the Maltese.

There is a general consensus among Maltese lovers and experts that eliminating corn and wheat from their diet does wonders for clearing up eye stains.

These two ingredients are really common in commercial dog food. They are generally recognized to be the blame for many an ill in a lot of different dog breeds.

The theory is that by eliminating these two key ingredients, you are eliminating the threat of allergies in your pup. By minimizing potential allergens, you can minimize excess tearing.

Liver Toxins?

Another cause of tear stains directly related to diet is caused by an excess of toxins secreted by the liver.

This has to do with the actual production porphyrins.

These little chemical structures that cause the brown-red staining are a completely normal waste product. They come from iron-containing red blood cells. These blood cells are naturally broken down in the body through a process called heme biosynthesis.

Woah. We’re getting scientific here.

Hang in there – I’ll try to keep it simple.

This is a complex process that requires a delicate balance of different kinds of enzymes. If everything is all good, this function happens smoothly in the liver.

The excess of porphyrins results when there is an imbalance in these enzymes. This happens because certain toxins accumulate in your dog’s system. When these toxins build up, the process of heme biosynthesis cannot happen efficiently.

There is one specific group of chemicals called Sulfonomides that disrupt this process in particular.

How do these sulfonomides get into your beloved Maltese?

Through their diet.

These “sulfa drugs” are commonly used to prevent bacterial infections in cattle, pigs, and chickens.

These contaminants are present in most non-organic dog foods that have their main protein sources from beef, pork, and poultry.

The best food for Maltese tear stains should not contain these ingredients if they are non-organic.

Excessive Yeast Production?

This third dietary factor is often overlooked. Symptoms of overactive yeast production often look like food allergies.

Many times, dogs will have itchy ears, an itchy muzzle, and itchy feet. They will constantly lick, scratch and chew on the parts that they can reach. You may notice that this often causes staining of these areas as well. (Remember, there are porphyrins in saliva too.)

If your dog has all those symptoms, besides pronounced tear staining, you might want to consider that your dog has a yeast imbalance.

We know that there are naturally occurring yeasts on our dog’s skin and fur. We also know that sometimes these yeasts can get out of control and cause problems.

As previously mentioned, one of the theories behind Maltese tear staining is that an excess of yeast around the eyes. These yeasts interact with different unknown bacteria and produce even more porphyrins. This results in more pronounced staining.

How can diet help with reducing yeasts?

Yeasts feed on sugars and starches. The best way to prevent or stop yeast overproduction is to minimize these in your dog’s diet.

But wait a minute. You’re not feeding your Maltese baby that much ice cream!!!

Remember, sugar and starch do not come exclusively from cookies and treats or even fruits.

Sugars are also formed in the process of digestion.

Corn and wheat both break down into sugars. Potatoes, oats and even tapioca also break down into sugars.

The best dog food for Maltese tear stains should ideally have these kinds of ingredients in limited quantities.

The Best Dog food for Maltese Tear Stains

So after all our analysis, the best dog food for tear stains should have the following characteristics:

  • Contain no wheat or corn ingredients or byproducts.
  • Be organic, if possible. If not organic try to avoid chicken, beef and pork ingredients.
  • Consider anti-yeast formulations offered by high-quality dog food producers.
  • Remember – investing in high-quality dog food is a small price to pay compared to the costs of veterinary visits.

You can also save yourself the hassle of investing in costly products designed to help clean up your Maltese tear staining.

Why not go to the root of the problem and fix it?

The Deal on Feeding a Maltese

Since we’re talking about your fur babies’ diet, it is also important to talk about how they eat.

The Maltese, by nature, eat like a bird. This breed, depending on their size, weight and activity level, only need to eat a maximum of 300 calories a day. Older dogs can get away with as little as 165 calories. They eat very little.

But the thing is, they need to eat all the time.

This breed is particularly susceptible to low blood sugar. They call it Hypoglycemia.

This means that your adorable little Maltese needs to have free access to food all the time.

You might notice that your pup just eats a kibble or two every now and then. This is completely normal and you should not worry!!

Some well-intentioned dog owners will withhold food and feed on a strict schedule. This, for a lot of breeds, is an effective way to overcome pickiness and encourage their dog to eat enough.

But please, don’t do this to your little Maltese. With other breeds, it’s easy to think that they are being picky or don’t like their food.

Understand that this is how the breed is and it is how they need to eat. 

What Does this Have to do with Eliminating Tear Stains?

It means that the best dog food for Maltese tear stains should be a dry kibble.

Why? Because dry kibble tends to stay fresher longer than wet food. If you are leaving a portion of food out for your dog to eat at their free will, you want to make sure that it doesn’t go rancid.

Rancid food can cause a whole host of digestive problems for your pooch.

Wet or canned food can go “off” in a matter of hours at room temperature.

Dry kibble, however, will stay fresh all day long.

It’s also good for their teeth.

So unless your Maltese has specific dental issues that keep them from eating dry kibble, try to avoid the wet stuff.

Related Questions

Do probiotics help with tear staining?

Lots of Maltese owners have observed that adding a probiotic supplement to their dog’s diet has helped combat tear stains.

The theory is that by supporting digestive health, you are supporting immune system health. A strong immune system is fundamental to preventing the overgrowth of yeast. It also helps prevent allergic reactions.

Certain dog foods come formulated with probiotics. Others do not, but you can easily purchase a probiotic supplement and add it to your dog’s diet.

What are some other things I can do to get rid of tear staining?

One thing that most veterinarians recommend time and again is simple daily hygiene.

Your Maltese is a beautiful dog and should be groomed regularly:

1) Make sure that you trim the hairs from around your dog’s eyes. This might be a job best left to a professional groomer.
2) Clean the area around your dog’s eyes every day, at least twice a day. Use a clean, damp cloth.
You can use a very mild boric acid solution to lighten any existing staining. Apply it with a cotton ball after wiping down the area.
3) Another bit of advice that you might find helpful is to change out your water and feed bowls.

What difference does that make?

Basically, plastic dishes can wear out over time. They get rough surfaces with repeated washing and use. This can lead to different bacteria finding safe harbor in the dish.
Switch to a stainless steel dish set. This may be helpful to cut out potential bacterial contamination of your dog’s face when they are eating.

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