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Q&A: Can an Ear Infection or Yeast Cause Tear Stains in Dogs?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

A change in diet may go a long way in easing your dog's discomfort!

A change in diet may go a long way in easing your dog's discomfort!

Why Does My Dog Have Red Tear Staining After an Ear Infection?

"My 7-year-old female Lab developed a bad ear infection that went away once medicated (antibiotics). Since then, she has developed red tear stains and red spots on her coat and around her mouth. She is constantly licking her paws, scratching her ears, and rubbing on the carpet. Could this be yeast? A bit after, we switched her food from prescription Hills Metabolic mobility to Acana's Light and Fit recipe. She has never been sick, and this was her first time with an ear infection.

What could this be?" —Kenia

Food Allergies in Dogs

Your dog's first ear infection may have been the first bout of allergies. It is impossible to say if it is seasonal allergies or due to her food, so you will need to have her examined by your regular veterinarian and then put on an elimination diet.

Dogs usually develop food allergies when they are puppies, but it can happen in dogs older than seven. It may be the new food, but more likely, it is because of an allergy to something in the other diet she was on. (Beef, chicken, wheat, fish, corn, dairy, and even lamb.) (1)

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Novel Protein Diet and Yeast Swab

Start her on a novel protein diet right away and take her to your regular veterinarian to have the tear stains swabbed for yeast. The yeast infection that is making her tears red is probably secondary to the allergy, but you want to be sure before putting her on an anti-fungal medication to clear that up.

It is rare, but I have also heard of yeast causing an eye infection (2) that can lead to irritation and excessive tearing. If the yeast are just on the skin, they will be easier to treat, but you should at least have her eyes examined before starting treatment.

Start Treatment Quickly and Be Patient

It takes anywhere from 6 weeks to several months for the signs to go away even when the diet is switched, so make that change as soon as possible so that she will feel better more quickly.


(1) Valentine B. Review of critically appraised topics on adverse food reactions of companion animals. Can Vet J. 2020 May;61(5):537-539.

(2) Ledbetter EC, Starr JK. Malassezia pachydermatis keratomycosis in a dog. Med Mycol Case Rep. 2016 Jan 21;10:24-6.

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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