Why do Shih Tzu tears smell?

Answered by Frank Schwing

Shih Tzu tears can have a distinct smell due to a combination of factors. These factors include the presence of water, sweat, oils, saline, mucus, and a fatty tissue called meibum. When all of these substances mix together and accumulate on the hairs of the face, it can lead to an unpleasant odor.

One of the main contributors to the smell is the presence of meibum. Meibum is an oily substance produced by the meibomian glands located along the eyelid margins. Its main function is to lubricate the eyes and prevent the tears from evaporating too quickly. However, when the meibum mixes with other substances on the face, it can create an environment that promotes bacterial growth, which can lead to an odor.

Additionally, the tear ducts of Shih Tzus are often smaller and more prone to blockages compared to other breeds. This can result in excessive tearing, causing the accumulation of tears and debris on the face. The combination of moisture and the presence of bacteria can contribute to the development of a foul smell.

Furthermore, Shih Tzus are brachycephalic dogs, meaning they have a relatively flat face and shallow eye sockets. This facial structure can lead to a condition called epiphora, where tears overflow onto the face instead of draining properly through the tear ducts. The excess moisture on the face can provide a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to odor and tear staining.

Tear staining is often seen as reddish-brown streaks under the eyes of Shih Tzus. This staining occurs when the pigments in tears, such as porphyrins, react with the hair and skin. The presence of bacteria and other substances in the tears can exacerbate the staining and contribute to the unpleasant smell.

To address the issue of smelly tears and tear staining in Shih Tzus, it is important to maintain good hygiene practices. Regularly cleaning the face and eyes with a mild, tear-free cleanser can help remove the buildup of tears, mucus, and bacteria. It is crucial to use products specifically formulated for dogs to avoid irritating their sensitive skin.

Additionally, keeping the hair around the eyes trimmed can prevent tears from getting trapped and accumulating on the face. Consulting a professional groomer or a veterinarian experienced with Shih Tzus can provide guidance on proper grooming techniques.

In some cases, underlying health issues such as allergies, eye infections, or blocked tear ducts may contribute to excessive tearing and odor. If the problem persists despite proper hygiene practices, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment.

The combination of various substances present in tears, along with factors specific to the breed, can contribute to the smell associated with Shih Tzu tears. By practicing good hygiene and addressing any underlying health issues, it is possible to minimize tear staining and reduce the unpleasant odor.