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Chocolate Havanese

Eye care

Getting a health checkup is the first step. If the cause of the excessive tearing is a blocked duct or an infection, veterinary interventions like surgery , treatment or medication may be necessary. Once you are sure your Havanese is healthy, the next step is to eliminate the likeliest causes from the environment, water and diet. Ensure that there is no hair curling into the eyes to cause irritation. A tiny bit of trimming at the inner corner of the eyes will help as will keeping the facial hair out of the eyes, by keeping it brushed back or fastened with tiny elastics, barrettes, hair clips or a topknot. In the environment, try to limit the use of things like heavy air fresheners, carpet powders and other chemical products. Vacuum well and rinse well where any chemicals have been used.

Causes of staining

Water - In many areas, tap and well water may have a high mineral content. The impurities in the water may cause tear staining of the face and beard. In this case , a simple inexpensive solution is to use bottled, filtered or distilled water for your Havanese. A difference may be noted in as little as 10 days though it may take up to 3 months for optimal improvement.

Food - Additives, preservatives and food colourings found in many dog foods and treats can be significant factors. Certain spices, flavourings and ingredients may be culprits, such as beet pulp found in many commercial dog foods, or basted and flavoured rawhide and bones. Not only do they stain the face and beard but also any areas of fur that they come in contact with, as well as light coloured carpets! High sugar contents in some treats may fuel a yeast infection. Missing ingredients may also be contributing factors. Use the best quality food you can afford. Something as simple as EFA supplements (Essential Fatty Acids) can make a appreciable difference.

By simply removing some of these causative factors, you may minimise or eliminate much of the tearing and facial staining.

What to do

There are several options for dietary supplementation which may help minimize tearing and staining. If a pH imbalance is suspected, these may help the problem from the inside. A calcium supplement such as Tums (Calcium Carbonate) may significantly alter the pH of the tears which in turn will be less hospitable for the growth of bacteria and yeast. Another choice is to give an apple cider vinegar supplement. Vitamin C is another popular remedy purported to prevent beard staining as are Fatty Acid Supplements, parsley and Zinc. It is a good idea to check with your Vet before starting any supplements as they are not right for all dogs and also to confirm correct dosing.

Until you can find and eliminate the cause of the tearing and staining, you may wish to use some temporary measures to keep your Havanese looking great. Daily cleansing of the area with a soft washcloth is essential in removing any accumulated debris around the eyes and beard. Using saline eye drops is safe and gentle and will help wash out any irritants. Many products available from groomers, pet supply stores and catalogues can be used to remove stains from facial hair as well as chalks and powders used to cover up the stains temporarily. There are also some home made remedies you can try. **Use extreme care when using any of these commercial or home made products to ensure that nothing gets in your Havanese's eyes which could cause further irritation or injury. Always use mineral oil drops or ointment in the dogs eyes for protection ** It is also important to remember that many of these stain removal methods are quite harsh and drying/damaging to the hair. Be sure to condition the area well after any treatments.

Popular homemade remedies

Tear staining is unsightly. Getting rid of the cause is the best way to control the problem, but in the meantime, you may still want and need to remove or cover up the stains that are already there.

1) mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide (3%) with milk of magnesia and apply liberally to the stained area. Let dry. Wash thoroughly and follow with conditioner. Repeat as needed.

2)Mix equal amounts of Milk of Magnesia, and hydrogen peroxide 3% ( medicinal strength) and then add corn starch to make a paste; work well into the stained area and let dry overnight. Brush out. Wash then Condition. Do this daily or every other day until staining is gone. Some people choose to use 20-40 volume peroxide ( hair bleach strength). Though this does achieve faster results it is much harsher.

3) 3% Peroxide (medicinal strength) & coat dressing such as Crown Royale Magic Touch. Mix equal amounts. Just make a small amount at a time and store in a tightly closed bottle. Saturate the area using a cotton ball. Let dry, wash out and follow with conditioner. Use daily till desired results are achieved.

4) Silicone based products are a protective agent. These products may applied sparingly to the area. They will leave a protective layer on the hair which will help to prevent and minimise subsequent staining. These should be used sparingly as prolonged or excessive used can lead to dryness and coat breakage. Hair pomade or mustache wax may have similar protective qualities.

5) Human hair bleach -To be used only as a last resort and with extreme caution. This is not for the novice and should be undertaken only by individuals very well experienced in the technique. There are several brands available from any drug or department store. They do work but are very harsh. Rinse out every last trace of bleach; if not completely neutralized it can burn the hair and damage it beyond repair. Follow with conditioner. It is vital to use mineral oil drops or ointment in the eyes to protect them. Any bleach in the eyes can cause severe damage.

As you can see, in the case of excess tearing and staining, prevention is really the safest and gentlest way to solve the problem for your Havanese.