Can a dog’s food cause problems with eye drainage? I adopted a not-quite-two-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I had a Cavalier puppy given to me as a gift (!) previously and fell in love with them. He died from intestinal cancer due to undiagnosed IBD. He’s the first dog I’ve ever had to euthanize. He also had dark drainage from his eyes, so perhaps that’s just a breed thing? When I got Sadie in September, there wasn’t a lot of staining. She’d been fed Nutro, but of course, I wanted to do “better” than that. So, after going through four bags of quality (all 5-star) grain-free kibble, she’s got major staining going on. She was having goo-poo as well. Things improved slightly when I took her off of Back to Basics, which is 74% protein. I know that high protein is all the rage, but I don’t think this little dog can handle it. Are there any high quality products which run about 20% -25% protein?
Diet can absolutely cause eye staining, but its important to remember that the breed of the dog can have just as great of an effect as well. Dogs with bulging eyes, like many chihuahuas for example, routinely have eye staining regardless of diet.
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.
But, I also have two chihuahuas who had massive staining while on puppy chow in their foster home and now have some, but not much, eye staining with quality foods (honest kitchen, acana, etc). I credit whats left of their eye staining to their breed and their bulging eyes.
So anyways, if your dog did not have much staining before but has massive staining now then consider switching foods. Also, you can do even better by stocking five or so foods at your home and switching every meal. That way your dog’s body will not develop new allergies and will not be lacking in any nutrients or minerals that any one food may be lacking in.
Both dietary and environmental toxins contribute to tear staining. That includes cleaning products, laundry products and everything with a fragrance. So can Pesticides, lawn and garden chemicals and petroleum products. Vaccines and worm Meds, and all other meds can also cause cause staining, as well as ear discharge, skin eruptions and seizures. Feeding the best specie appropriate diet, sans grain, potatoes & food additives goes a long way to helping keep your pet healthy, but its implant to remove environmental toxins as well. 🙂
I’ve got chemical sensitivities of my own, so I’m pretty careful about keeping stuff that might be allergy-triggers out of the house. I do live in a condo, so I have no control over what nastiness might be used on the common lawn areas. I allow my dog to have some people-food, but only if it is meat, vegetable or fruit. I buy organic produce, but more and more, “organic” doesn’t meant what it used to.
I’ve been feeding grain-free kibble, but have allowed sweet potatoes to be included in the formula. One of the treats I give my dog has white potatoes in it, but she only gets that treat every three days as I rotate them.
Maybe I should be looking at the items farther down in the list of ingredients, as legitposter wrote. I never thought of peas as being a problem, but who knows? It’s such a guessing game — buy a bag, feed it a week, see no difference, buy another bag. It looks like a pet food store in here! So many products are made in Diamond factories, and I am leary of them. Perhaps that is unwarranted?
I have tried just about everything to cure my rescued mini poodle of dark eye stains. Distilled water, filtered water, eye wipes, vinegar, PH urinary health supplements (I thought they might discourage yeast, I didn’t end up using them for long enough to tell for sure so that still might work), on and on. I did not want to use a popular product that contains off-label chicken antibiotic, Angel Eyes. It would really just kill the yeast, not eliminate the reason for the tears, and I have reservations about cosmetic non-prescription antibiotic use.
Eventually quality grain-free food and a daily dog multivitamin (Solid Gold brand Seameal) have reduced the stains by about 50%. I believe that a lot of the tearing is environmental allergy related, or perhaps due to the structure of the eye.
I’ve never thought about peas.
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 for your poodle. Sadie is still on grain-free — every kibble I’ve given her is grain-free. I’m wondering now if it’s her treats. I rotate Sojos lamb, Blue Buffalo duck/potato, & Natural Instinct rabbit. When her stools get mushy, I almost go into PTSD! That’s the first symptom I saw with my other dog who had IBD, but it wasn’t diagnosed… She does get real (cooked) chicken, turkey, ground beef, and ground bison, too. The stains are really bad now, but we are beginning our cedar season down here which is brutal for anything that breathes. That explains some of the staining, but not what has been going on before the cedar hit. I just can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.
I didn’t know that about Angel Eyes, but I instinctively did not want to use it. To keep Sadie’s eyes from being stinky, I dilute a small amount of hydrogen peroxide in some water and apply it with a Q-Tip or a baby toothbrush. She seems very grateful when I do this. Doesn’t do a lot for the stains, though…
BTW, thanks to everyone who has posted their thoughts about this topic. Every little bit of information is helpful.
The grain-free didn’t cure him entirely, he still has noticeable stains. But they aren’t as bad as they were. If you live near a veterinary opthalmologist, they could probably help.
Not a bad idea, Jackie B… Do you give your dog treats? Or any people food? I’m thinking maybe I’m giving her too many different things to assimilate?
My Pom will get tear staining and weapy eyes from foods that she is intolerant of but also will develop this symptom if I don’t keep her teeth clean.
interesting connection. I never thought of that. I know dirty ears can cause icky eyes. What foods give her problems with her eyes?
She is intolerant of chicken — not only does it cause the eye issue but also causes colitis. Turkey is problematic too but only reacts if eaten too frequently. Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) like rimadyl and metacam do the same thing (weapy eyes and colitis).
PS — I get gooey eyes when I consume a problem food for me — dairy. My eyes can sometimes get so much debris in them that I have pink eye symptoms (eyes stuck shut when waking) without the infection. It usually isn’t THIS bad but has happened a few times over the years. Usually it’s just a bit of goo in the inside corner of my eyes.
I have 3 Cavaliers and I have found that adding pre/probiotics and enzymes to their kibble/canned combo helps with their staining. I really only have 1 (my Ruby, Laverne in my pic on left) that has allergy related tear stains and she also gets anal glad issues sometimes. I’m not really sure what she’s got issues with, though. Normally, I do a rotation of kibble about every 1-3, 5 lb. bags and a rotation of canned every can or two. None of mine have them bad, though. I mostly feed grain free, but lately they’ve been eating Merrick Classic Sm. Breed kibble and it has grains.
Mom2Cavs — Do you use human probiotics or vet prescription probiotics? When my last Cavalier was undergoing chemo, the vet told me that I had to use Purina (Rx) because dogs needed different strains of probiotics than people and that they shouldn’t be getting dairy-based probiotics. However, I know several dog people who use people probiotics. So, I am confused! Maybe the vet hospital just wanted to sell their product.
Shawna — Oh, great! Sadie loves, loves, loves chicken & turkey! However, the lamb kibble I gave her offered no relief from the staining. ???
I switch through foods a lot because Prince gets bored of foods very fast. On his rotation are homemade recipes from Feed Your Best Friend Better, Stella & Chewy’s frozen raw, Sojo’s Grain-free (with raw beef), Artemix Fresh Mix Beef, Party Animal Venison, and some Merrick grain-free foods.
I do feed the Solid Gold Seameal. Recently I purchased some Missing Link supplement as well, so I might start doing both of those. They have different stuff in them.
@ramona72….I have heard that many people use human probiotics, but I do use those made for dogs. Some of my favorites are: Mercola Probiotics and Mercola Enzymes, Total Biotics and Total Zymes, Fresh Digest (this is just a prebiotics with enzymes), Geneflora, and I really like Solid Gold Seameal (it has kelp and contains enzymes…actuallly uses Prozyme in it), and Ark Naturals Gentle Digest (this is just a prebiotic and acidolphilus (sic)). Hope this helps!
I have cavachon puppy w dark eye stains, thick goop piles up that I have to pull off. Recently had “old” pork/beef and ground it up, adding 2 TBS to dry dog food and noticed 95% improvement (can’t hardly see tear lines on face anymore). So suspect “meat” seems to be beneficial. Only 4 days so far, but surprised at improvement. (Dog food is mix of Royal Canine & Rachel Ray)
Take him to the vet. It could be conjunctivitis, highly contagious.
PS: I doubt very much that his condition has anything to do with his kibble.
Dog eye discharge can be alarming to any dog owner. It can be caused by something as simple as environmental allergies or as serious as corneal ulceration. Whatever the cause, eye discharge should be addressed and treated before the condition becomes more serious, causing the loss of vision or possibly the loss of an eye. Tearing and discharge is the canine eye’s way of ridding itself of any irritant that may exist on a day to day basis or a chronic eye problem.
Determining the Seriousness of the Discharge
Ocular discharge can occur gradually or can develop very suddenly in dogs. A general guideline is that the more discharge there is, the more serious the condition of the eye. Other symptoms that indicate the need to be seen by a veterinarian for potential treatment are:
Eye discharge is thick and mucous-like
Eye discharge is yellow or greenish
Eye discharge is bloody
Tissue surrounding the eye is red and irritated
Causes of Eye Discharge
Eye discharge can be caused by any number of irritants. Causes of discharge include, but are not limited to:
Abcess or infection in the upper back teeth
Anterior uveitis or swelling of the iris and surrounding portions of the eye
Blepharitis or inflammation of the eyelids
Cherry eye or protrusion of the tear gland of the third eyelid
Deformities in the tear drainage pathway or inflammation, blockage or narrowing of the tear drainage path
Deformities, wounds or tumors of the third eyelid
Eyelashes growing out from the inside of the eyelid, irritating the cornea
Glaucoma or elevated interior eye pressure
Inflammation of the cornea
Inflammation, infection or tumor in the soft tissue around the eye
Scratches, cuts or ulceration of the cornea
Trauma to the area around the eyes and nose
Diagnosing Eye Discharge Problems
While a general practice veterinarian has some of the tools required to conduct a canine eye exam, a veterinary ophthalmologist will have the full spectrum of equipment required to conduct a full ophthalmic examination or specialized testing, should they be required. Some of the tests that may be conducted:
A Schirmer tear test, which determines whether tear production is reduced, normal or elevated.
Detailed examination of the canine eye interior, looking for inflammation, bleeding or other problems.
Fluorescein staining, to determine if there is ulceration or erosion of the cornea.
Tonometry, which determines if the interior eye pressure is reduced, normal or elevated.
If indicated, a veterinary ophthalmologist may also require cell analysis collected from gland openings or from the cornea or other eye tissue. Other procedures may also be required to determine if the tear ducts are blocked or if there are underlying systemic causes for the eye discharge.
Some dog breeds are known to have discharge and tear staining from their eyes. If your dog is one of these breeds and the tearing is a concern, have it checked out to ensure there isn’t an underlying problem. If your dog develops discharge, it is important to have the condition checked out, especially if the tearing is excessive, thick, or appears to be infected or bloody. By taking these precautions, you can help ensure your dog keeps his healthy eyesight throughout his lifetime.
Dark red with improvement after diet change sounds like a yeast problem. Some breeds are prone to blocked tear ducts though and that will cause discharge.
I just bought Zignature lamb formula. Changing from Natures Recipe. He’s a 7 mo. old Bichon and the staining is getting really bad. I’m hoping the Zignature will help. So what about treats. What treats are good? Any????
Julie & Sammy
I like freeze dried treats. They’re very limited in ingredients usually and you can rip them into smaller pieces. I also love the Plato brand of jerky’s but without knowing the trigger it’s hard to pinpoint the problem ingredient. I don’t remember the brand but my store sells stuff called Chicken Bark and Beef Bark (even a Roo and Shark Bark!) that’s one or two ingredients and made in Texas. They’re crunchy
Thank you, I did check all the treats and none have any artificial colors.
I have a 17 week old Havanese with serious eye stain lately. I’ve eliminated all bully sticks, and am looking at puppy and all stage foods without TOMATO POMACE as I suspect that may be the culprit for her eye stain. She’s been on Wellness Raw Rev, which she loves but has the Pomace as an ingredient. I’m switching to Orijen Grain-Free Puppy even though it has green peas and pea fiber way down the list of ingredients. I’ll let you know how she likes it.
I believe eyes stains can be rid of with quality foods. I have 3 white dogs, when adopted from rescues, stains around eyes, feet etc. I feed Wellness Core dry kibble and Farmers Dog As a topper…no more stains. Just note it will take a few months for this to happen, then the staining is over. Note that Farmers Dog is an online dog subscription food delivery company. Homemade dog food made with human grade ingredients. And my dogs love Wellness Core and Farmers Dog…and I have picky eaters.
I have a all white mixed Havanese, Bichon, Bolognese, and for the first 3 years he didn’t have a single tear stain. Last summer that took a dramatic turn and I had no idea why. I tried everything, I spent a fortune on different high quality foods, grain free, all natural, etc. I tried every topical eye cleanse for stains, washed his face twice a day with shampoo, changed his treats, researched online for hours, begged my vet to figure it out.. nothing worked. After several months, I realized I had changed his food flavor from chicken to Lamb, I was still using the same brand but a different flavor. When I realized that I had not thought about that and maybe I should go back to the original flavor he ate for 3 years when he didn’t have these tear stains, I switched back to the original food in the chicken and barley flavor. Within a month along with Eye Envy teas stain remover solution and powder, his eyes completely cleared up. Let me just say now that I don’t think it was the flavor change for my dog, rather the minor change in ingredients for each flavor. Here’s why, after several months of clear eyes again, I was in need of more dog food. Before and after the eye stain problem, I was using Hills Science Diet Advanced Fitness Chicken and Barley which never caused a tear any staining and cleared up the problem once I went back to it. The store happened to be out of the Advanced Fitness Chicken and Barley so I purchased the same Hills Science Diet brand again but in the Small Toy Dog formula in the Chicken and Barley flavor, how much of a difference could that make, right? … Low and behold the stains started to come back within 2-3 weeks. That’s when I realized, it might not have been the flavor change but perhaps an ingredient that was in one formula and not the other. I compared the ingredients one for one…. and there were 4 ingredients in the Hills Toy breed food formula that were not in the Advanced Fitness formula. Pea Fiber is one of the main ingredients, Powdered Cellulose, L-Lysine and L-Carnitine. I have no idea which of these is the culprit but someone mentioned above in another post that Pea heavy foods can be the cause. That might be the answer because the food my dog had issues with was obviously high in pea fiber, it was the second ingredient on the list. Just to be sure, I will avoid food with all four of those ingredients. Try a different food without Peas first, this may do the trick!
One more note to consider, L-Lysine was also in the other food, same brand different flavor Advanced Fitness Lamb & Rice, that caused tear stains. It was not in the Hills Advanced Fitness Chicken and Barley Formula.
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