Many light-colored, small dogs, especially the Maltese, often develop brownish stains around the eyes. This is a common cosmetic problem caused by an overflow of tears onto the area around the eyes. The brownish color is caused when bacteria on the face interact with the tears. The cause is often due to blocked tear ducts. Miniature breeds like the Maltese often have prominent eyes that stretch the drainage system, resulting in blocked tear ducts that do not drain out the nose but instead collect under the eyes. The brownish spots are especially noticeable against the white coat of the Maltese.
Examine the dog’s eyes and try to determine the cause of excessive tears. Allergies, foreign objects, ulcers and medical conditions such as abnormal tear ducts can cause excessive tear production. If you suspect a medical condition is the cause, take the dog to a veterinarian.
Clip any long hairs around the dog’s eyes. These hairs easily become matted and can lead to skin irritation and possibly infection. Clean the eye area thoroughly, removing any crusty material with a clean towel. If you see a skin lesion, clip the hair closer and apply an ophthalmic antibiotic ointment to the area. See your veterinarian if the lesion appears infected.
Rub a cotton ball or gauze pad soaked in a tear-stain cleaning product formulated for dogs onto the eye area, being careful not to rub any product into the eye. Flush the eye area with warm water after application of the product. You can also make your own cleanser by mixing one tablespoon of boric acid into one cup of boiling water, mix well, let it cool to lukewarm and apply with a cotton ball or gauze pad.