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It is not uncommon to find unsightly tear stains in Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apsos, our breeds of choice. The underlying causes may be medical in nature, or genetics-, environment- and lifestyle-related. I have personally tried many approaches with varying degrees of success, a reflection of the fact that tear staining is (in my view) likely caused by the interplay of the multiple factors mentioned above.
When Kenzo, a Bichon Frise, came into LAHPSTR, he had relatively severe tear staining. I initially trimmed the hair around his eyes and nose bridge in an attempt to get rid of the red-stained fur. In parallel, I cleaned the affected areas with a damp wash cloth twice a day. However, these efforts proved insufficient. Our vet ruled out obvious medical causes such as ingrown lashes, and suggested over-the-counter grooming products.
I tried one such product I had previously used with success on a Shih Tzu and saw no improvement in Kenzo’s tear staining. At that point, I joined a Bichon group on Facebook and read their recommendations. A certain antibiotic widely used in conformation circles was not an option in my book as I could not justify using antibiotics for a purely cosmetic reason, However, one suggestion, substantiated by a link to a vet’s blog, caught my attention. It involved using a dilute boric acid or borate solution.
Upon further research, I realized that the anecdotal evidence for this method was, in my opinion. convincing. I therefore ordered a buffered canine eye rinse containing boric acid and its salt, sodium borate. I have been diligently applying a drop of the solution to Kenzo’s eyes and nose bridge area morning and evening since late November, except for a lapse of ten days during the holiday season. To my delight, the hair became lighter in color and within three weeks, the tear staining was almost gone. More importantly, the excessive tear production decreased significantly. Tear stains did again become slightly visible when we took a break, but now that we are back to applying the borate-containing eye rinse to Kenzo’s eyes, the tear staining is mostly gone.
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