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In Poodles, Bichon Frises, Maltese and other similar breeds and mixes, abnormal eyelid structure or tear duct obstruction can prevent tears from emptying into the nose and down the throat as they do in normal dogs. (Human tears drain that way, too, which is why when you cry you can taste the salty tears in your mouth.) As a result, tears spill out onto the fur along the side of the nose. In addition, hairs and other irritants rubbing against the eyes can cause an increase in tear production, which has the same effect.
For these and other breeds, the fur of the face holds moisture and fosters the growth of bacteria, which can lead to rust-colored staining, skin irritation and, in some cases, a nasty smell. Because many of these dogs have a white coat, the problem is that much more obvious.
To have a chance at resolving those ugly rust stains, you need to start by seeing your veterinarian. It’s not uncommon for there to be contributing factors that need to be resolved, in addition to the discoloration. Some possibilities include:
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