A product that you may have on your retail shelves right now could be in the middle of a big controversy.

Epiphora, excessive tear production in pets, often results in unsightly and sometimes smelly brownish-red staining around pet’s eyes.  There are a number of ways to combat this condition, and many products on the market to help control it.  However, some of the tear stain removing products contain an ingredient that is under close scrutiny by the FDA. The unapproved drug that some manufacturers are using is the antibiotic tylosin tartrate, also known as tylan.

In August of 2014, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to several companies that manufacture tear stain removing products for dogs and cats that contain the unapproved antibiotic. According to the letter, “These tear stain removers also contain the medically important antibiotic tylosin tartrate, which is not approved for use in dogs or cats, or for the treatment of conditions associated with tear stains.”  The letter also stated, “Unapproved animal drugs are not reviewed by the FDA and may not meet FDA’s strict standards for safety and effectiveness.”

Tylosin tartrate is certified by the FDA but is only approved for use in livestock such as cattle, chickens, swine, and turkeys.  The FDA has prohibited the use of tylosin in dogs and cats, except where it is specifically prescribed by a veterinarian. The FDA contends that the products that contain tylosin tartrate are misusing the antibiotic. The FDA has further warned the offending companies that if the products stay on the market, the agency may seize them or file an injunction against the companies that make or distribute the products.

The overuse of antibiotics can have unintended consequences and negative side effects, and can result in serious health problems for pets. It may lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria which could put the pet at risk for future hard to cure infections.  It may also alter the composition of the intestinal bacteria that pets need to digest their food properly and to utilize vitamins.

As groomers, we owe it to ourselves and to our clients to keep abreast of things that are happening in our industry.  Many of your customers have no idea that these products could be potentially harmful to their pets. They trust your knowledge and your expertise when they are in need of a product to deal with tear staining on their pet.  Take the time to check the ingredients in all of the products you carry that are designed to eliminate the staining.

Not all of the over-the-counter products to remove tear stains contain the unapproved antibiotic. There are many approaches to dealing with Epiphora, and a multitude of effective products that can be used. Do your research. You need to be aware of the ingredients that are in all of the products that you carry in your salon. Then you can guide your clients in the selection of a product that will safely deal with their pet’s needs.