Here is the full story on tear stains from the Maltese breeder, Bobby Lindon.She also gave permisson to use it on the groomers pages. I asked just in case you might want it.I also asked about how to protect the eyes.
Laurel

Sure its okay to forward this post, with credit, of course. This was a combination of my AKC Gazette article and some other things so the eye protection got left out.
Bobby

For eye protection I use Duralube -- its a petrolium jelly type product that comes in small tubes like the tetracycline, etc. You can buy this in the optical section of a drug store.
Put in both eyes before bleaching.

For those of you that asked I am including the text of my tear staining column for the AKC Gazette, with the inclusion of the bleaching information. Although written for the Maltese world it certainly can apply to other breeds. Hope this helps.

TEAR STAINING -- by Bobbie Linden, Bhe-Jei Maltese

Perhaps one of the most frequent questions I am asked about Maltese at dog shows is "what do you do to keep your dog's face so white?" My answer is always multiple in nature.; it includes the multiple causes of tear staining, including genetics, health and diet, and what the prevention is, and what can be done about it when you have it.

Background and Causes

Most veterinary eye specialists believe the actual cause of staining is excess tearing. When the face hair is wet from excess tearing it is the breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. One of the most common yeast infections is Ptyrosporin or Red Yeast which causes a deep reddish-brown stain. Low grade bacterial infections in the tear ducts are also common and may cause excess tearing and staining.

I believe that genetics plays a significant role in excessive tearing and staining. Like most everyone with more than one dog I have had Maltese that tear stain. However, my first champion Maltese bitch has had minimal tear staining. When I breed her both of her puppies had no tear staining as baby puppies. The female puppy continued through her championship and a limited specials career with no tear staining. She recently had a litter of 3 puppies and as of 4 months of age they have absolutely no tear staining or facial stain from nursing. One month after this litter of puppies was whelped I had another unrelated bitch whelp. Both were breed to the same sire The second litter of puppies had tearing and staining from the beginning. The head structure on the two litters is different. Many veterinary eye specialists believe that the actual structure around the eye area plays a significant role in excessive tearing. I feel there is a genetic predisposition toward tear staining. Being selective in Maltese breeding stock can play a significant role in tear staining.

Eliminating excess tearing is one of the best ways to stop staining. Maltese owners should pay attention to the hair around the face and prevent hair from falling into the eyes causing irritation and infection. Maltese can be susceptible to allergies so watch the environment your Maltese is in. I have heard from other Maltese owners whose dogs previously had sparkling white faces and overnight tear stained when in a hotel room with a friend who smoked. It also is important to be extra careful when bathing you Maltese. Shampoo and other chemicals in the eyes can cause irritation and excess tearing.

The water in many areas has a high mineral level. If your Maltese drinks from a water dish and your local water has a high mineral content you may find the entire face and beard stained. I have solved this by training all my dogs to drink from a water bottle. This also keeps the face dry. I start training puppies to drink from a water bottle when they are weaned. Alternatively, a Maltese can be placed on purified or commercial bottled water.

I also believe diet plays a key role in tear staining. I find that feeding a dry kibble that is natural with no additives, preservatives or food color in it seems to aid in maintaining white stain free faces. I also keep my show dogs' face hair in wraps so that their food does not come into contact with their hair.

Before a Maltese owner attempts to remove the tear staining from a dog's face it is most important to have eliminated the source of the staining. Otherwise it will just come back and many times it will be worse than before. Once the source of excessive tearing and staining is found a pro-active program to remove the staining can begin. After insuring that irritation, environment, water and diet issues have been as a source of excessive tearing you can begin to think about removing the tear staining. Dealing with yeast and bacterial infections is next. I have found success in eliminating tear staining by putting my Maltese on a ten day course of low dose chlortetracycline. Occasionally this may need to be repeated. However, I do not use this in puppies that have not yet cut their adult teeth.
Tetracycline has been shown to cause teeth which have not erupted to permanently stain yellow. Maltese not responding to tetracycline may respond well to Lincocine. Yeast infections in the ears may also be a frequent culprit of tear stain; this generally responds well to Otomax (gentamicin sulfate).

Removing Tear Staining

If you wish to attempt to remove tear staining from the facial hair there are a several things that can done. There are a number of products available from the dog products suppliers at shows or through mail order that can be used on the facial hair on a daily basis. However, it is my opinion that unless you have minimal staining these products just do not work.

I have three solutions that I can suggest to remove tear staining. Care must be taken in using these products or any other chemical solutions to not get anything in the dog's eyes. It is also important to remember that when attempting to removing tear staining you my also be damaging the hair. Before I bleach I make sure I condition the hair well first. What works best for me is Wella Cholesterol. I pack the face furnishings with this for several days efore I bleach. Make sure you neutralize the effects of the chemicals you have used and condition the facial hair after any attempts to remove stain.

1) Milk of Magnesia, corn starch and peroxide (20 volume to 40 volume) -- make a good paste of this and put on the stained area and let dry overnight. Wash out, CONDITION WELL. Keep doing this for several days until tear staining is gone, although I would recommend skipping a day or two between applications if possible.

2) Crowne Royale makes a product called "WHITNER" -- mix this with peroxide (20 volume to 40 volume) into a paste and again leave on overnite. The Crowne Royale Whitener works a lot like number 1, it works faster but IMHO it is much harsher -- CONDITION WELL. Crowne Royale's phone # is 1-800-992-5400 and is also available from many vendors at the dog shows.

3) Human hair bleach -- there are any number of brand of this. When I started in Maltese a number of years ago my mentor told me ONLY to use Wella Wellite (this is the one in the light blue/turquoise package). Many of the human hair bleaches are very harsh and they all work, but care needs to be used in selecting the bleach to use. I've tried others but always go back to Wellite.

The bottom line of beaching is CONDITION CONDITION CONDITION. I also use 40 volume most of the time. My personal hairdresser (who was one one of the top colorists is NYC before "retiring" to Northern California) told me that if your going to bleach 20 volume is just as bad for your hair as 40 volume -- the color comes up faster with 40 volume. The DAMAGE you do to the hair --and yes bleaching can do damage -- is the same. It depends on how long bleach is on the hair (time) and it is shorter with 40 volume -- hence less damage. I always use the creme bleach and have recently found a gel bleach that works quite well.. These are much better than the straight liquid types -- better on the hair.

And finally, don't be impatient. If you have a face that is badly stained it may take several bleachings to bring the color back up to white. Do it several days apart and in between CONDITION CONDITION CONDITION.

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