Only One Eye With Tear Stains

by Eileen
(Maryland)

What does it mean if there is a tear stain under only one eye? I have a mixed breed 11 lb pug, Boston, Shihtzu mix. Only one side of his face is affected. What's up with that?

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Hi, Janice here from Small Dog Place
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Aww, I was hoping you'd post a picture. A Boston-Pug-Shih-Tzu sounds like quite a combination.

I am assuming that the staining is coming from the eyes and is not staining on whiskers or beard due to water or food. Face staining is a little different, but that is almost always bilateral.

When you see staining on one side of the face that looks like it is originating from the eyes, it is probably a condition that is affecting only one eye. A blocked tear duct is one of the first things that come to mind. Please note that I am not a veterinarian and only a veterinarian can diagnose problems, but blocked tear ducts can create that problem. There could also be a variety of other eye problems that your dog may have that is causing the problem. I will just address the one: Blocked Tear Duct

When I first learned about blocked tear ducts, it made no sense to me that tears could be streaming down the face causing problems. For some odd reason, I thought that "blocked" meant that the face might actually stay dry. Not so.

My veterinary ophthalmologist explained that with normal tear ducts, the tears that are produced remain within the eye, lubricating it and washing out any dust or debris. When the ducts are blocked, tears continue to be produced but instead of flowing back into the eyes where they should go, they stream outward onto the area surrounding eyes creating staining.

I currently have one puppy of my own with this problem but she is too young to do anything about it. Sometimes the ducts can be opened with good success, but sometimes they close again.

As long as the dog does not seem to be in distress, the only thing you need to do is wash the eye area once a day and keep an eye on the situation. (no pun intended)

If you want to get it checked out, the first visit would be to your regular vet. Most vets now-a-days will refer you to the veterinary ophthalmologist.

Please remember that I'm not a vet and there are many different problems that can affect dog's eyes including problems with eye lashes and the skin surrounding the eye. If you have a dog with Boston, Pug and Shih Tzu DNA, unfortunately you are likely to encounter at least one. Eye issues are very common in all three breeds.

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