Allergies, Tear Staining & Tummy Troubles
I do my best to breed healthy dogs that do not tend to have a heavy tear staining problem, or itchy skin, but like humans, any dog can get a food or environmental allergy, which is most often what causes tear staining, or itchy skin and paws.
There are some products on the market, which claim to help with the problem, but with the exception of a simple fish oil supplement, I haven’t found most of them to be effective. I'm not sure if the fish oil helped with tear staining, but it does stop them from the "dry skin itchies". I usually give them a squirt on their food about every other day throughout the wintertime. Having your dog on antibiotics or antihistamines is an option if you have environmental allergies, but for food allergies... well, we can control that just by switching up the type of food we feed.
If your Coton ends up with tear stains, consider first what your Coton is eating/drinking. I use mostly bottled spring water for my Cotons, since we have well water at home. Their outdoor water is still well water, however.
I use stainless steel or glass dishes, because porous dog dishes can harbor bacteria. Still they sometimes are found lapping at a puddle outside, or at the horse trough, it happens. I just don't think water is usually an issue in this problem.
In general, I advise to look at their environment, and look at their food. (I'll discuss environmental allergies on another page). The best dog foods for dogs with allergies have limited ingredients, and "uncommon" ingredients. In general, dogs do need some grains, but maybe the grain they're eating is not compatible with their system? Or maybe no grain at all would be better? Many allergy sufferers will find relief by switching to a different protein (such as Bison, Duck, Kangaroo or Seafood). Limited ingredient dog foods can make it easier to pin down which ingredient is causing the allergy- once you know the problem ingredient, it makes choosing a food SO much easier!
NutriSource has quite a few healthy food options (in small kibble form) ALL of which DO NOT have potatoes, corn, soy or wheat in them, which are all very common allergens in dogs. They have both grain and grain-free products, and several types of proteins available as well. Still, what works amazing for one dog, may cause another allergic misery.
If you have allergy / tear staining issues with your Coton, I would suggest perhaps first trying the Small and Medium Breed Puppy Food formula that is Grain-Free. Or the adult small kibble formula that is grain free if they are over 1 year of age. Please keep puppies on a puppy diet, it's truly needed for their first year.
An adult Coton could also try the Seafood Select version of Nutrisource. It's been extremely helpful for many dogs that have allergies. The next two that would be logical to try would be the High Plains or Woodland Select formulas.
Switching dog foods is perfectly ok, but PLEASE do not switch dog foods overnight unless the previous food is causing a life threatening reaction. In general you should start with 20% new food and 80% the food they've been on. Slowly add more percentage of the new food until you are feeding 100% of the new food. This should happen over the course of about a week. By one week, they can be 100% on the new food.
While you're going through this process, watch for any differences or reactions.
Some people do rotational feeding of the different NutriSource products, swapping out proteins every six months or so, to get different nutrients and to see which work better for their dog. If you do rotational feeding, it's best done within the same brand of dog food, so the ingredients are similarly balanced enough to not cause gastric upset during the switch. Always do the proper, week long method of switching between foods.
If you feel NutriSource products don't work for your Cotons, feel free to venture to other highly rated foods, even specific "allergy-free foods" if you feel there might still be an issue. The "Wellness" brand is another great pet food line I would recommend highly. (Puppies LOVE the Wellness Puppy Bites).
Speaking of tummy issues....
NutriSource already has probiotics in it's dog foods that helps your dog digest their foods more completely (which is why their poos are small and firm as they should be!), still, under times of stress or if my dogs seem to be feeling not quite up to par, often I will add an additional pro-biotic supplement to their diet.
One pro-biotic product I love for making a tummy healthy again, is called ProBios. You simply add 1/2 tsp of the powder to your dogs food each day, and it helps maintain a healthy tummy. I don't do this year round, only when I feel there might be an issue.
In your puppy transition pack, sometimes I send along a small tube of probiotic for Day 1 and Day 3 at their new home. This, too, is a great product in a handy, small tube which I'll link to on the side in case you preferred that type.
Another option is to add a tablespoon of "ACTIVE CULTURE YOGURT- PLAIN" to their food. The majority of plain yogurt sold is active culture, even if it doesn't say it. It's my go-to product when someone isn't feeling good (people too!).