Your Bichon Frise is cotton-ball white and fluffy. He has a cute black nose and merry black eyes. You love everything about him except the unsightly red stains trailing from his eyes. They make him look dirty and fail to disappear no matter how often you try to wipe them away. What causes these stains and are they a sign of an infection?
According to Dr. Rick Furman of Klaich Animal Hospital in Reno, Nevada, Bichons are no more prone to actual eye infections than any other dogs. Because of the abundance of hair near their eyes, they often exhibit an unsightly reddish stain under their eyes. In fact, many other furry, white dogs, like Maltese, show red staining. And against their white fur, the stain is very easy to see.
When It's Not Infection
The staining doesn't necessarily indicate infection. Tears caused by fur in the eyes react with sunlight to grow a fungus that appears as the red stain. The main factor in preventing this stain is to keep the fur around the eyes trimmed. Once the fur is trimmed, a pad soaked in anti-fungal liquid should be used to wipe the area around the eyes two to three times a day. A product called Malaseb Pledgets can be prescribed by a veterinarian.
When It Is Infection
Dogs do get eye infections, called conjunctivitis, just like people. According to the Canine Health and First Aid section in "The Complete Dog Book" by the American Kennel Club, conjunctivitis is defined as "an inflammation of the smooth, pink tissue that lines the lids and covers part of the eyeball. Swelling and discharge are noted. A clear or watery discharge suggest an allergy, foreign body or physical irritant. A pus-like or colored discharge indicates the presence of bacterial infection." Dr. Furman says that the infection should be treated with an ophthalmic antibiotic.
Additionally, he says, just like people, dogs have eye problems more often in the spring and fall because of allergies to pollen in the air. But he also noted that some dogs do have a condition called Distichiasis (extra eyelashes). These surplus or misplaced eyelashes on the inner edge of the lids rub against the cornea and irritate the eye, which causes the eyes to tear. These extra eyelashes can be removed permanently through surgery.
So show off your pretty white dog by keeping him properly groomed, which includes making sure the hair around his eyes is trimmed and, if necessary, wiped with an anti-fungal pad. However, if he still has this unsightly problem, a vet trip may be necessary.