How to Clean Bichon Frise Eyes and Tear Stains

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How to Clean Bichon Frise Eyes and Tear StainsIf you have ever owned a small dog, you are likely familiar with tear stains. They tend to be more visible on white dogs and have a reddish-brown color. While these tear stains are not exclusive to small breeds, they are a common problem for the bichon frise.

What causes these stains, and what can you do about them?

Why Do Tear Stains Form Under Bichon Frises’ Eyes?

There are several reasons that tear stains may form under your bichon frise’s eyes. Mostly, the reasons involve some sort of problem with tear ducts. Such problems are very common in smaller breeds, and the bichon seems to be particularly susceptible.

Genes

It’s pretty common for purebred bichons to suffer a genetic abnormality that affects their tear ducts. This abnormality can cause blockage of the ducts, leading to infections that cause runny puss excretions. If the condition is very serious, it may require surgery. That entails having a vet surgically open, clean, and expand the tear duct.

Infections

Infections can cause your bichon to suffer excessive tearing. That is particularly true of infections in the sinuses and ears. These infections cause a buildup of tears and mucus, which then release and cause tear stains.

Teething

Teething is a trying time for babies. That is also true for puppies. While teething, your bichon pup may experience excess tearing.

Diet

If your bichon frise is allergic to anything in their diet they may start tearing excessively. The same can occur when their diet does not meet their nutritional requirements. Ingesting high levels of minerals like iron can cause red tear stains.

Irritation

Various irritants can cause tear stains—these range from chemicals that your bichon makes contact with to fleas and mites. The bites of the latter cause an immune response very similar to an allergic reaction.

What Are the Risks of Not Cleaning Your Bichon Frise’s Eyes?

There is a risk of infection for most pets if you don’t keep the eye area clean. The moist and warm area is an ideal breeding ground for numerous types of bacteria. When it comes to bichon frises, the risk of complications relating to eye gunk is above average.

The effects of such bacterial infections depend on the specific bacteria in question. Still, infections can lead to loss of sight and a variety of complications that can affect your bichon’s health. Severe infections can spread to the sinuses. Such a sinus infection can, in turn, spread to the rest of the body. Even if the infection doesn’t cause any serious symptoms, it compromises the immune system.

That is potentially life-threatening for a bichon frise. Like most purebred dogs, bichons tend to have a weaker immune system. Additional strain from bacterial infections can leave your dog exceptionally vulnerable to secondary viral, bacterial, or fungal infections.

How to Clean Your Bichon Frise’s Eyes and Tear Stains

Keeping your bichon frise’s eye area clean is an essential step in avoiding tear stains. There are a couple of ways in which you can safely clean your bichon’s eye area, but keep in mind that most animals do not like having the eye area cleaned. Therefore, you will need to make the experience as gentle and stress-free as possible.

Keep Things Calm

The first step is to lul your bichon into as calm a state as possible. Using a gentle tone while reassuring your dog may help. Next, find the quietest spot in the house with no distractions. If you can’t get your dog to remain calm while having their eyes cleaned, you can have a second person assist in gently restraining the dog.

It’s preferable to make the entire experience as brief as possible. You will need to be patient with your bichon while they protest and try to get away.

Damage Control

Before you do anything to clean away the tear stains, a professional groomer should first cut off most of the fine hair directly around the eye area.

What You Need

The best way to clean the eye area is by using a soft cotton ball. It’s important to note that there is no agreed-upon, surefire method to remove tear stains. Using a cotton ball and purified water to clean the eye area is the safest option.

Some people recommend using food-grade hydrogen peroxide (3%). It might help clean the area, but there is a risk of causing a chemical burn on the fragile skin surrounding the eye. If you want to be 100% safe, you should consider getting a purpose-made commercial product – as an example, Miracle Care offers such tear stain cleaning pads.

You will need some dry wipes to dry the area once thoroughly cleaned.

Bichon Frise Tear Stain Cleaner

The Cleaning Process

To clean your bichon frise’s tear stains, follow the below:

  • Step 1: Gently wipe the eye area, starting from above the tear duct and wiping down over the tear-stained area. If you decide to use any products, use a second cotton ball soaked with purified water to wipe the area clear of any remaining product.
  • Step 2: Repeat the process to get the best results, but consider your bichon’s distress. If they begin to act panicked or show signs of aggression, cut the exercise short. You can always try again later. But, whatever you do, don’t use negative reinforcement or show any impatience. Doing so will only make the whole affair more difficult the next time you try.
  • Step 3: Using dry wipes, gently dry the eye area. The drying process usually removes more of the gunk than the wet wiping. It would be best if you got the area as dry as possible. Leaving it moist can contribute to bacterial growth.

Additional Tips

Below are a few other things to keep in mind as you work on cleaning your bichon’s eyes:

  • Keep children and other pets away during the process. Any additional noise and movement will make your dog’s anxiety worse. Also, do not use a hairdryer to dry the area. Only use dry wipes.
  • Some people recommend restraining your dog with a blanket. The idea is to wrap the dog up like you wrap a baby up. This method may help counter most of your dog’s resistance. However, in our opinion, being restrained in this way will only make the experience worse for your bichon.
  • As much as you want to take care of all your pet’s needs yourself, the best thing to do is make regular appointments with a professional dog groomer. They can take care of the worst of the tear stains and give you helpful tips to keep the tear stains to a minimum.
  • If the tear stains become more prominent, you will need to take your bichon frise to the vet to get a proper checkup and diagnosis. You should also see a vet if the tearing is new and has set in over a short period.

Summary

Tear stains are a common problem in many small dog breeds. It shows more on dogs that have white or very light coats. While tear stains can be relatively benign, they are unsightly blemishes that distract from the handsome features of the bichon frise.

The risks of not cleaning the tear stains and eyes area, in general, include bacterial infections. Such infections can lead to serious health problems. While one can treat most bacterial infections when caught early on, prevention remains better than cure.

Many commercially available products claim to be the solution to tear stains, but there is no consensus that any of them work. It is likely just as effective to use a cotton ball and purified water. It’s always best to hire a professional. Regular grooming and visits to a dog parlor combined with a comprehensive hygiene regime can help avoid tear stains altogether.

In addition to this article, you might also want to read about bichon frise eye problems in general.