Medical issues such as periodontal (gum) disease, excess saliva production and dental problems including abscesses can result in dogs producing large amounts of saliva. In a lot of cases, the excess saliva is produced as a way to try and get rid of excess bacteria that is present as a result of dental / periodontal problems.
It’s important to be aware of people trying to pedal remedies and supplements to remove stains on fur. Very often, these people will be selling you products that won’t work and care should be taken before using these – and any other – supplements.
There are a number of different factors that can contribute to your dog’s fur becoming stained.
As with people, dogs have allergies to things like pollen, certain foods, certain plants etc. And as with people, dog’s will do everything they can to relieve the irritation and discomfort caused by these allergies.
At the chemical level, red-brown fur staining is caused by a compound called porphyrin. Porphyrins are iron containing molecules produced when the body breaks down red blood cells. They are removed from the body primarily through faeces. However, porphyrin can also be excreted through tears, saliva, and urine. All dogs produce and excrete porphyrins, but porphyrin staining is of course more noticeable in dogs with white fur.
Should I Worry About My Dog’s Fur Changing Color?
Porphyrin staining isn’t always something to worry about. However, excessive staining accompanied by certain symptoms or behaviors often indicates an underlying medical issue that may need prompt veterinary treatment.
Tear stains are particularly noticeable in certain breeds, like Maltese, Shih Tzus, and short-nosed Bulldogs. This is “because of excessive tear production and the way the tear ducts are located in the head,” Dr. Klein says.
Of course, excessive staining around the eye could also indicate eye abnormalities, allergies, infections, or injury. Head to the vet if swelling, discharge, or discomfort accompanies the staining.
Drool-prone dogs, like Saint Bernards, often have rusty-colored muzzles and beards. However, sudden excessive saliva production can indicate periodontal disease, teeth fractures, or other dental dilemmas—keep an eye out for stinky breath, bleeding gums, or difficulty eating.
When dogs lick their paws excessively, a build-up of porphyrins from the saliva turns the fur around the area pink or rusty red. Over time, the stains can turn a darker brown. While the staining is only unsightly, excessive licking is often a sign of an underlying medical or behavioral issue.
How do you get the red stains out of a white dog?
Make a paste of baking soda and water, and brush it into the stain. Let dry and then wipe off with a damp cloth. If any stain still remains, repeat.
Turning Red [YTP] but actually funny
Q. My 12-year-old dog, Emmy, has been pure white her entire life — until the last 7 months. As you can see from the photo, she now has a rust-colored face and paws. Three different veterinarians have given me three different theories for why this has happened, ranging from old age to allergies. At this point she has been on four allergy medications, including steroids, but none of them has helped. I should note that she has also had pus in her left eye, which is red. I have been applying the over-the-counter eye ointment Maxitrol, but I am already on my fourth tube — it only works for a couple of days. Please help my baby girl. I don’t know what else to do.
A. Hair around a dog’s eyes may take on a rust color any time there is an increased flow of tears. Tears contain proteins that bind to iron, and when the tears reach the outside of the body and are hit by oxygen, they literally rust, explains Tufts veterinary ophthalmologist Stefano Pizzirani, DVM. It is particularly obvious on white-coated dogs.
Tear overflow can occur for a number of reasons. The most common is extra hairs rubbing onto the cornea, which is very sensitive. (Have you ever had a hair in your eye?) Sometimes an infection or foreign body causes a problem. Allergies, too, can increase tear production, with the rusty coloring showing up on the sides of the nose.
As for the rust color anywhere on the legs, including the paws, the cause is licking. Saliva, like tears, can cause a red stain. Common causes of excess licking include psychological triggers or again, allergies.
In the case of your own dog, Dr. Pizzirani says, it looks from the photo like there’s a small mass on the bottom of the dog’s left eye, at the edge of the eyelid. That can produce some friction on the cornea, he says, which would increase tearing and overflow.
The best bet would be to have Emmy examined and diagnosed by a veterinary ophthalmologist and perhaps a veterinary dermatologist. Proper treatment will bring her coat back to its natural color.