How to Get Rid of Tear Stains on Dogs


As a dog owner, you may observe that your dog has discolored hair or tear stains under one or both eyes. You can get rid of tear stains on dogs naturally or by cleaning tear stains from dog’s eyes regularly.

Tear stains or ‘Epiphora’ is a common problem in dogs, especially in white-coated breeds. It is the reddish or brownish discoloration that appears around a dog’s eyes.

Tear stains are usually harmless, as it’s not a disease of dogs. It is a symptom that arises from several causes. The overflow of tears can cause these stains and can be more noticeable on dogs with lighter coats.

Here’s everything you need to know about tear stains on dogs, the possible causes, and ways to remove dog tear stains.

Possible Causes of Tear Stains in Dogs

Tear stains in dogs usually occur when porphyrin from dogs' eyes comes into contact with their fur. A dog’s porphyrin is released when its body breaks down red blood cells.

According to the Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC (American Kennel Club), Dr. Jerry Klein, porphyrin is the most common reason for pink, red, orange, or brown tear stains on your dog’s fur.

Besides that, several reasons cause tear stains in dogs. Let’s look at some of the possible causes.

1. Genetics

Dog breeds with short noses, large eyes, or long hair around the eyes, such as Miniature Goldendoodle, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Toy Poodle, Bichon Frise, and Lhasa Apso are more prone to tear staining than others. These breeds tend to produce more tears than other dogs. Their narrow or blocked tear ducts prevent the tears from draining properly.

2. Eye Infections

Bacterial or fungal infections can cause inflammation and irritation in the eyes of dogs. It leads to increased tear production and staining. Some common signs of eye infections are redness, swelling, discharge, itching, and pain. If you observe any of these signs in your dog, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

3. Allergies

Allergens such as pollen, dust, mold, or food can trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. These allergies can affect their eyes as well as their skin and respiratory system. It can cause itching, sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes, which can result in tear staining.

4. Diet

The food that your dog eats can influence the pH level of their tears and saliva. Their food diet can affect the color and intensity of the tear stains. Some ingredients that can cause tear staining are artificial colors, preservatives, corn, wheat, soy, and beet pulp. You have to avoid these ingredients or switch to a natural or grain-free diet for your dog.

5. Blocked Tear Ducts

Sometimes, the tear ducts that drain the tears from the eyes to the nose can become blocked by dirt, debris, hair, or inflammation. It can cause the tears to overflow and stain the fur around the eyes. Blocked tear ducts can also lead to infections and eye problems if left untreated.

6. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that occurs when the pressure inside the eye increases due to fluid buildup. Glaucoma can cause pain, vision loss, and blindness in dogs if not treated promptly. One of the symptoms of glaucoma is excessive tearing, which can cause tear staining.

How To Get Rid Of Tear Stains On Dogs

Getting rid of tear stains on dogs is hard and requires time. Tear stains can affect the appearance of your dogs and indicate some underlying health issues. So, you have to get rid of them off your dogs.

Here are some tips for cleaning dog tear stains.

Identifying Tear Stains

The first step is to identify whether your dog has tear stains or not. Sometimes, what looks like a tear stain may actually be a wound or an infection that needs medical attention.

You can use a cotton ball or a tissue to gently wipe your dog’s eyes and check for any signs of injury or infection. If you notice any blood, pus, or foul odor, you should take your dog to the vet immediately.

Consult a Veterinarian

The next step is to consult a veterinarian to determine the cause of your dog’s tear staining. Your vet may perform some tests such as blood work, eye exam, or tear duct flush to diagnose the problem and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Depending on the cause of the tear staining, your vet can recommend antibiotics, antihistamines, eye drops, surgery, or other options.

Regular Cleaning

One of the most important things you can do to get rid of tear stains is to keep your dog’s eyes clean and dry. You have to know how to clean eye stains on dogs to get rid of them.

You have to wipe your dog’s eyes with a damp cloth or a cotton ball soaked in warm water at least once a day. You can also use a mild shampoo or a specially formulated eye cleaner to wash away dirt from your dog’s eyes gently.

Natural Remedies

You can also use natural remedies or household products to get rid of dog tear stains. However, you have to be cautious while using these remedies on your dog’s eyes. Dr. Ilia Medina, DVM at VCA Bolingbrook Animal Hospital, said that coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide are not safe to use near your dog's eyes.

These are some natural remedies that you can try at home to get rid of tear stains from your dog’s fur.

Demineralized water with no iron

One of the simplest ways to prevent tear staining is to provide your dog with clean and fresh water that has no iron or minerals in it. You can use filtered or bottled water for this purpose. Iron and minerals can react with the porphyrins in the tears and saliva and cause staining.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent that can help fight infections and inflammation in your dog’s eyes. You can apply a small amount of coconut oil to your dog’s eyes with a cotton ball or a dropper once or twice a day. Coconut oil can also moisturize and soften your dog’s fur and skin.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can help balance the pH level of your dog’s tears and saliva and prevent staining. You can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water bowl or food once a day. You can also mix some apple cider vinegar with water and spray it on your dog’s eyes and fur.

Trim Facial Hair

Trimming your dog’s facial hair around the eyes can help get rid of tear stains. Long hair can trap moisture and dirt and cause irritation and infection in your dog’s eyes.

You can use a pair of scissors or a clipper to carefully cut the hair that covers your dog’s eyes or touches the corners of the eyes. You can also use a comb to gently remove any mats or tangles from your dog’s fur. If possible, take your dog to a professional groomer every month.

Grooming Routine

A good grooming routine can help keep your dog’s eyes clean and free from tear stains. You should groom your dog regularly and pay special attention to their eyes.

You have to dry their facial fur with a clean, dry washcloth at least 2 to 3 times daily. Use a fine-toothed comb to remove their caked-up debris.

You should also trim their facial hair around the eyes if necessary. Furthermore, check their eyes for any signs of injury or infection and seek veterinary attention if needed.

Commercial Tear Stain Removers

If none of the above methods work, you can try some commercial products that are designed to remove tear stains from dogs. There are many types of tear stain removers available in the market, such as wipes, powders, liquids, gels, creams, or supplements.

You should always read the label and follow the instructions carefully before using any product on your dog. You should also consult your vet before using any product that contains chemicals or antibiotics. These commercial products may have side effects or interactions with other medications.

Avoid These Products for Removing Tear Stains

While many products claim to remove tear stains from dogs, some of them may be harmful or ineffective for your dog. So, it’s important to keep these products away from your dog’s eyes to ensure dog safety.

You should avoid using the following products to clean dog tear stains.

Bleach or Hydrogen Peroxide

Bleach or hydrogen peroxide are strong chemicals that can damage your dog’s fur and skin. They can also cause irritation, burns, or blindness if they get into your dog’s eyes. Bleach or hydrogen peroxide are not safe for dogs and should never be used to remove tear stains.

Human Eye Drops

Human eye drops are not designed for dogs and may contain ingredients that are toxic or harmful to your dog’s eyes. It can also alter the pH level of your dog’s tears and saliva and cause more staining. Human eye drops can interfere with your dog’s natural tear production and cause dry eyes or other eye problems.


Vinegar is a natural acid that can help remove stains from some surfaces, but it is not suitable for your dog’s eyes or fur. It can cause stinging, burning, or irritation in your dog’s eyes and skin. Vinegar can also damage your dog’s fur and make it fragile or dull.

Alcohol-Based Products

Alcohol-based products such as rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or alcohol wipes can also harm your dog’s eyes and fur. It can dry out your dog’s eyes and skin and cause infection. Alcohol can also strip away the natural oils from your dog’s fur and make it prone to matting.


Tear stains aren’t painful for your dogs, but they can be frustrating as you may not like the look of them. A variety of reasons cause these reddish-brown marks under the eyes of dogs.

Get rid of tear stains on dogs by cleaning their eyes, using natural remedies, trimming their facial hair, or using commercial products. But you should always consult your vet before using any product or medicine on your dog.

Tear stains are harmless but can indicate some health issues. You can prevent tear staining by feeding your dog a high-quality diet, providing them with clean water, protecting them from allergies and irritants, and taking them to regular vet check-ups.

We encourage you to follow these tips for how to get rid of tear stains on dogs and help your dog have clear and beautiful eyes.


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