Feeding the Fluffy Bichon Frise

Learn how to choose the best food for your Bichon.

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Page 7 of 7

Tearstains
Was it something My dog ate?

Medically speaking, excessive tearing is called epiphora. The end result of epiphora is often tearstainingstreaky reddish-brown smears that mar an otherwise perfectly white face. We wipe them off, clean them up, and the next day they're back again.

So what causes the stain? Tears are normally colorless, but they dry to a dark reddish-brown color because they contain pigments called porphyrins, as well as other pigment-like compounds. In addition, the constant dampness irritates the skin and fosters subsequent bacterial and yeast growth.

Some breeders believe that dietary factors may play a role in tearstaining, but epiphora is most commonly caused by either overproduction of tears or an abnormality in the drainage of the tears from the eye. Overproduction of tears usually occurs in response to an irritation or inflammation stemming from allergies, eyelid or eyelash abnormalities, or excessive hair at the inner corner of the eyelid. Abnormal tear drainage may occur when the tearduct is blocked, scarred or deformed.

Although diet is not the most common cause of tearstaining, some proposed dietary factors include:

 Highly pigmented foods, such as beet pulp, or artificially colored foods
 Additives or preservatives in dry food
 Substances in drinking water, such as iron and minerals
 The following nutritionally based measures have been suggested to reduce or eliminate tearstaining:
 Vitamin C supplementation
 Parsley flakes
 Wheat-germ-oil supplementation
 Bottled water
 Raw-food diet
 Natural diet with no additives, preservatives or food coloring

It certainly won't hurt your Bichon if you switch it to bottled water, but some of the above remedies could have detrimental effects. For instance, vitamin C supplementation could be harmful to a Bichon that's prone to calcium oxalate urolithiasis (urinary stones), because the resulting acidic urine could promote urolith formation.

Overall, theres little evidence to indicate that dietary factors play a major role in epiphora and tearstaining. So, if your Bichons in tears, its probably not something it ate. Its more likely that its producing too many tears or they aren't draining correctly. Your veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist can determine why and prescribe treatment to correct the problem.

- More Breed Diets -

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janet   Bethlehem, PA

5/2/2012 2:28:51 AM

good article, thank you

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Joan   Sterling, VA

2/16/2011 4:20:35 AM

We switched our Bichon's food to Wellness Super5Mix for Small Breeds. Within a week, the tear stains were gone.

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Casey   Murphy, CA

1/2/2011 1:04:11 PM

Based on my experience, I think that the food has something to do with the tear stains. My Bischon gets tear stains daily! Because I work full time, every workday I drop my Bischon off at my parents home to play with their poodle. I hear from my mother that my Bischon is constantly eating the poodle's food, they keep food out all day, filled up...and yes the poodle is fat. While I bring her food over to them, she won't eat her food, rather she eats from his bowl (she is HIGHLY COMPETITIVE with the poodle. Due to the holidays, I have been off work for 20 days and the dog has been home with me, eating once a day (that's all she would eat), going for 40 min walks, and drinking adequate water. SHE HAS HAD NO TEAR STAINS! It's amazing. I am sure it's the combination of the exercise and good food. Just my 2cents...

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Deanne   Camano Island, WA

8/13/2010 10:06:04 AM

Re epiphora or excessive tear stains in dogs: My dog gets ONLY filtered water, plus food with no artificial dyes (Canidae All Life Stages) and he still has terrible drainage. I clean w/salt solution (NO IODINE IN SALT!) sea salt best, and [try] to trim him myself at eye corners; he only gets groomed every 6 wks. Works only so-so--but he's worth it!

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