How to Get Rid of Dog Tear Stains?

By Kim •  Updated: 09/05/20 •  10 min read
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Do you have a furry, white angel ball of fluff—perhaps a Poodle or Bichon—who has red or brown discolored fur around her eyes? Does your furry companion have excessive tears that cause these stains? Are you looking for dog tear stains removal? Then, you’ve come to the right place!

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Today we’re going to look into the problem of tear stains, what’s in your dog’s tears, what causes excessive tearing and then look at some methods you can use to lessen the effects of the tears or even possibly complete rid your dog of this problem.

What’s in Your Dog’s Tears?

Why do your dog’s tears make the area around her eyes (and possibly her nose and muzzle) red or brownish? First, the medical term for excessive tearing is called Epiphora. Epiphora literally means “excessive tearing.” This condition isn’t seen as a medical condition on its own, but rather as a symptom of an underlying medical problem or other issue.

What are Tears For?

Just like tears help keep our eyes healthy, your dog’s tears do the same for her. Tears help to keep the eye hydrated and clear away foreign debris. However, with excessive tearing, the eyes are constantly watering, with tears flowing down around your dog’s eyes and possibly even to her muzzle.

What Causes Dog Tear Stains?

Did you know that your dog’s tears aren’t clear, like yours? A dog’s tears contain a substance called porphyrin. Porphyrins are nothing more than iron-containing molecules; these molecules are actually waste products.

The body breaks down red blood cells, which are then removed by your fur baby’s body in her bile, her intestinal tract, saliva and even in her urine and tears. When these porphyrin-containing tears sit for long periods they actually stain (dye) your pet’s white or light-colored fur. If left for long periods, these stains are very difficult to get rid of.

Exposure to sunlight can make the stains even worse

Porphyrins are produced by all dogs; you won’t notice the stains on dogs with dark fur, but mostly on dogs with white or light-colored fur. These reddish/brownish stains can even appear on parts of your dog’s body where she licks most often: feet, legs, etc.

Dog Tear Stains: Medical or Cosmetic Issue?

While excessive tears can be a cosmetic issue, there could be an underlying medical problem causing your dog’s excessive tearing. What types of medical problems can cause epiphora? Here’s a of some common causes of excessive tearing in dogs:

If your precious pup has tear stains from excessive tearing, then it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian to first rule out any underlying medical conditions. Do this before trying to get rid of your dog’s eye stains on your own.

Some methods to get rid of your pet’s tear stains can make an unsuspected medical problem even worse. So, first check with your vet to rule out any health problems. Once you’ve ruled out medical issues, then you’re ready to look at other methods to help get rid of your dog’s eye stains.

Genetics and Eye Stains in Dogs

Did you know that certain dog breeds have a higher tendency to have eye stains than other breeds? Genetics can play a role in the chances of your dog developing eye stains. These breeds have a higher tendency for epiphora:

Just because your dog may belong to one of the listed breeds doesn’t mean she will develop eye staining. It only means she has a higher tendency to develop this problem at some point.

Puppies and Excessive Tearing

Most people don’t realize that puppies can also have excessive tearing. This is usually caused during the teething stage when puppies love to chew. During teething, you may notice some staining around your puppy’s eyes. This may clear up over time, as the puppy’s adult teeth come in and she matures.

Other Causes of Tear Staining

Your pup’s eye stains can even be caused by her diet, your drinking water, plastic food dishes, medications, stress and more! So, where do you start to rid your dog of her eye stains and help her recover?

Start Here First: What to Avoid

When you look online or in your local pet shop, you’ll find a wide variety of products on display. They all claim to help cure your dog’s eye stain problem. Common sense should hit at this point—you begin to realize this is a widespread problem for dog owners, and you see there is not one single cure that works for all dogs.

So, be cautious when using any OTC eye stain remover on your pet. It’s a good idea to ask your vet for advice—which products do they recommend, what ingredients to stay away from, etc.

Some OTC Eye Stain Removers and Supplements Contain Antibiotics

Sometimes people have dogs that receive antibiotics for a specific medical condition and they see that their pup’s eye stains either lessen in intensity or completely go away. This is because tearing can be caused by an underlying bacterial infection.

Some OTC dog tear stains removal products have been developed that contain antibiotics

These are not particularly harmful if used as directed; however, they contain antibiotics. Overuse or long-term use of antibiotics is a known factor in the development of superbugs. Why take the chance of your dog developing a superbug after long-term use of an antibiotic?

Many of these products have been discontinued due to the fear of overuse and the creation of superbugs. However, be sure to read labels—tylosin is one antibiotic often used in eye stain removal products. You may even find this antibiotic as an ingredient in certain supplements meant to cure eye stain problems.

Herbal Treatments and Supplements

Even natural ingredients, herbal treatments and supplements can pose a health hazard to your pet. You have to watch out for allergic reactions and other side effects. Just be aware and read the labels of all products. Again, consult your vet for the best options for your precious pet.

Now that we’ve talked about what to avoid, let’s find some possible solutions for your fur baby’s eye stains! Let’s take a look at a homemade tear stain remover you can try.

Dog Eye Stain Remover DIY

Some veterinarians recommend using a dog eye stain remover diy with a boric acid solution to remove your dog’s eye stains. Boric acid oxidizes the red blood cells, which has the effect of lightening the fur around your pup’s eyes.

You can make a boric acid solution by taking one tablespoon of boric acid and mixing it with a cup of boiling water. Be sure the boric acid powder is completely dissolved in the water. Allow the solution to cool, then use a cotton ball to wipe around your dog’s eyes and stained areas. Use this solution every day, once or twice a day on your dog’s eye stains.

Be very careful not to get this mixture into your dog’s eyes—it could burn and/or damage your dog’s eyes. Remember—this is an acid—even mild acids can burn and hurt. You can safely use this solution for one week—be sure to keep it refrigerated. After this, you’ll need to make up a new batch.

Now, let’s take a look at another homemade tear stain remover to try!

Dog Tear Stains Home Remedy

Another dog tear stains home remedy you can try is liquid Vitamin C around your dog’s eyes. Put some liquid Vitamin C on a cotton ball and wipe the area around your dog’s eyes and the stained areas of her face. Again, be very careful not to get the Vitamin C in your dog’s eyes, as it will burn and could cause eye damage. This method can take time to work, so be patient.

Dog tear stains yogurt is another method you can try to remove your pet’s eye stains. Yogurt contains probiotics which are known to help balance your pup’s overall health. Mix one tablespoon of yogurt into your dog’s food twice a day. Some people swear by Greek yogurt, but any yogurt will work. Treating dog tear stains yogurt can take time—so be patient.

Other Things to Try for Your Dog’s Tear Stains

There are additional things you can do at home to try to remove or lessen your dog’s tear stains. As noted earlier, tear stains can be caused by many things, including diet, plastic food bowls, etc.

1). Diet: when it comes to your dog’s diet, watch out for food colorants, as these can sometimes cause the brown or red colored stains around your dog’s mouth and on her muzzle. Also, allergies to certain ingredients and/or preservatives have been known to cause excess tearing in some dogs.

2). Get rid of plastic water bowls and food dishes: consider changing out plastic food and water bowls. These are known to develop cracks that harbor colonies of bacteria, which can cause staining and/or infections.

3). Replace drinking water: regular tap water may contain minerals that discolor your dog’s fur. Consider changing to filtered or bottled water for your dog to help with staining issues.

4). Keep your dog’s face clean: keeping your dog’s face clean can really help with eye stain removal. Use either a soft washcloth or a cotton ball dipped in warm (not hot) water and wipe your dog’s eyes and face twice a day, every day. This removes the tears—faster removal will keep the tears from staying on your pup’s fur. The longer the tears remain on the fur, the darker they become and the harder they are to remove.

5). Grooming hair around the eyes: you can also try to keep the hair around your dog’s eyes clipped. This can help reduce stray hairs that could get caught in your pup’s eyes and cause excessive tearing.

As you can see, there are numerous things you can do to treat your dog’s eye stain problem. Before you try to treat this issue yourself, be sure to check with your veterinarian. They will check your dog’s overall health and look for any medical problems that could be causing the excessive tearing.

If your pup has a clean bill of health, be sure to ask your vet about diy and home remedies, or OTC products that might help. Your veterinarian is the best one to give you advice about how to treat your dog’s tear stains.

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Kim

Kim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.

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