Tears — More Than Meets The Eye

By Ava Frick, DVM, CVC, FAIS

Tears have a purpose; to lubricate and moisten the eye. Many pets have facial staining from excessive tear production. We often see it in small breeds, brachiocephalic and large round eyes. This can happen if eye lashes rub against the eye, irritating it. But there are other underlying reasons too.

Tears will be reduced in a sympathetic (fright or flight) state, where circulation and attention is being routed to the muscles of extremities and heart for “escape.” This condition can happen over time with chronic stress and worry, creating digestive problems. Tears will be increased in a parasympathetic state. This turns on (if the body is not under sympathetic influence) during digestion and rest. It focuses which circulation to the central core and slows the body down. A body that is parasympathetic dominant, meaning too much of the “slow” compared to the “go”, may have over production of tears. Lack of tissue calcium and imbalance of gut microflora can increase drainage of the eyes.

Calcium is needed for many areas of the body. It is carried in the blood for minute to minute life. But it is also needed in muscle and nerve tissue function and the immune system. Studies show reduced calcium and magnesium availability increases the ability of cancer cells to grow. A body low in calcium, of the lactate form, can raise tear production and facial staining due to the alkalinity of the tears.

Up to 85% of a body’s immune function begins with the digestive system; parotid gland, teeth, stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, small intestine, and colon. Malfunction anywhere along this path leads to reduced immune function. Susceptibility due to imbalance of beneficial microflora can occur if small intestine and colon balance is disturbed. Dysbiosis can happen with oral antibiotics and medications, poor enzyme production, chronic stress, and reduced liver function. It is further sustained in an alkaline state where the pH is 7.5 or greater.

The approach to treating epiphora (excess tears):
Clean the face to keep the bacteria down and prevent developing sores. Tropiclean, a local company in Wentzville, has a product called “Spa Tear Stain Facial Cleanser”. It is designed with a mild coconut cleanser, plant ingredients from vanilla, blueberry, kiwi, ginger, and white tea to gently lift tear stains and balance the skin. It has natural exfoliating activity while gently hydrates the skin. This is safe for those sweet mugs of our lovable cats and dogs!

Improve and / or restore microflora balance. There are many probiotic products available and some work better in one body than another. Focus on a good blend of stabilizing bacteria. Fructooligosaccharide, yeast extracts, enterococcus faecium, and lactobacillus are some of the “good guys.”

Provide enzymes to help with digestion starting at the stomach. Enzymes are essential for every metabolic process in your dog or cat, from their immune system processes to the functioning of their internal organs. There are also specific enzymes necessary for your pet’s proper digestion.

These digestive enzymes include; protease to break down protein into amino acids, amylase to break down carbohydrates, lipase helps with digesting fats and cellulose to break down fiber. Your dog and cat produce these digestive enzymes naturally; however they do not produce enough of the enzymes necessary to process their food completely and efficiently.

Signs that your pet may be lacking in digestive enzymes include:
Acid reflux, Belching and gas, Vomiting undigested food (four or five hours after eating), Bad breath, Bloating, Diarrhea, Abdominal pain, cramping and gurgling, Foul-smelling stool, Undigested food in your pet’s stool.

Assess calcium tissue availability with a test called Tissue Mineral Analysis. It is performed on a hair sample shaved from the tummy area. In the St. Louis area Dr. Ava Frick is an expert at interpreting the results and guiding proper supplementation.
Supplement with calcium lactate if a parasympathetic dominant individual. A questionnaire called Clinical Animal Nutrition Survey will help you assess this status. It is available on our website at www.AnimalRehabStLouis.com

Select a diet that is grain free. Cereals and grains can interfere with many facets of digestion and liver function. Raw (frozen or freeze dried), home cooked, canned, or dehydrated are the easiest to digest and the canine computer responds best to these formats. If you must feed kibble select a baked food over extruded.

Ava Frick, DVM, CVC, FAIS, 636-549-9100.
105 East 5th St. Eureka, MO 63025.