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- A dog tear stain has a reddish-brown color because of the substance in it called porphyrin, which is produced when red blood cells are broken down by the dog’s body.
- Although pretty common, dog tear stain can be caused by health conditions, genetic abnormities, allergies, eye injuries, poor diet, and more.
- To get rid of the stain, you can use over-the-counter dog tear stain removers, as well as natural remedies like yoghurt, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and more.
Does your dog have unsightly discoloration under its eyes? If you answered “yes,” there’s a good possibility that your dog has tear stains.
Although this common cosmetic condition is most noticeable on white-coated dogs, it can appear in almost any dog breed. In fact, even our four-legged friends with dark coats can get tear stains.
Regardless of the breed, dog tear stains are extremely unattractive. They can sometimes smell bad too. This is why I often encounter pet parents searching for some great ways to get rid of them. Don’t worry. There are many great treatments for this common cosmetic issue.
Here is everything you need to know about tear stains on dogs and how to get rid of them in a timely manner.
What Exactly Are Tear Stains In Dogs?
Also known as “tear marks,” tear stains in dogs refer to the excessive tears that are visible on a dog’s face.
The condition can occur when the tear ducts system isn’t working properly. The overflow of tears ultimately results in dark discoloration under a dog’s eyes. If the discoloration is more reddish, it could be a sign of a yeast infection. A yeast infection is often the result of a moist environment.
More often than not, this discoloration will be present beneath your dog’s eyes. The official term for this cosmetic issue is epiphora.
What Causes Tear Staining?
Before determining the best way to treat tear stains, it’s important to know the underlying causes.
Most of the time, this cosmetic condition is caused by medical conditions, genetic abnormities, allergies, eye injuries, poor diet, and much more. The following are the most common causes of this condition:
- Ear infections
- Shallow eye sockets
- Teething issues
- Blocked tear ducts or blocked tear drainage holes
- Excessive tear production
- pH imbalances
- Hair growth close to eyes
- Unhealthy diet
- Environmental irritants
- Irritated eyes
- Eye trauma
Make sure to schedule an appointment with a vet to determine the possible causes of your dog’s tear stains.
Which Dog Breeds Are Most Likely To Have Tear Staining?
If you are aware that certain dog breeds are more likely to have this cosmetic issue, you definitely deserve a high-five.
The reasons why some breeds are more susceptible to tear staining could vary greatly, but many experts believe genetics may play a big role.
Pugs, Cocker Spaniels, Maltese, Boston Terriers, and Poodles are a few dog breeds that often have this cosmetic issue.
Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet?
Even if your pup seems perfectly happy, you should still visit a vet sooner rather than later. The reality is that your pup could be suffering from an eye disease, and it may get worse if left untreated.
A highly qualified vet will perform a thorough examination and conduct some tests to determine the underlying cause of the tear stains .
If a vet suspects that this cosmetic issue is caused by an eye condition, your dog may be referred to an experienced ophthalmologist for further evaluation. The best-case scenario is that your dog needs eye drops, and the worst-case scenario is that your dog needs eye surgery. In order to ensure that your pup doesn’t lose its vision, your dog should get treatment as soon as possible.
Maybe your dog’s tear stains are caused by allergies. If this is the case, a vet will probably recommend a steroid ointment.
So, Your Dog Has Tear Stains: How Can You Get Rid Of Them?
Since your dog’s tear stains are such unsightly, you probably want to get rid of them immediately—similar to knowing how to remove brown stains from white fur.
While there are many great products and home remedies to get rid of dog tear stains, you should consult with a vet to determine the right treatments for your dog.
Check out these common treatments for tear staining in dogs.
Dog Tear Stain Remover: One of the most effective treatments is a tear stain remover. The product is currently available as a powder, paste, wipe, and liquid. Regardless of the type of stain remover that you choose, this product can remove the gunk-like magic. Just so you know, the paste will eliminate the bacteria in your dog’s eyes too. Many of the best dog stain removers are available online and at pet stores. Try the ones that are free of harsh chemicals.
Pro Tip: The product can usually be used pretty regularly.
Tear Stain Soft Chews: A great choice for dogs who hate grooming, tear stain soft chews can treat the underlying cause of this cosmetic condition. These products are usually formulated with natural ingredients that have antibiotic properties. Many dogs love tear-stain soft chews because it’s actually really tasty. Tear stain soft chews can also be bought online or at pet stores.
Over-The-Counter Wipe Products: Cotton balls and makeup remover pads are great products that can be used to clean your dog’s stained areas. For the best results, spray these over-the-counter wipe products with saline solution or warm water.
Yogurt: Many experts believe that plain, unsweetened yogurt may also be a great treatment. There isn’t a lot of studies showing that yogurt really works, but it’s definitely worth a try if your dog isn’t lactose intolerant.
Coconut Oil: There’s no hard evidence that coconut oil can get rid of the reddish brown stains either, but this treatment should also be considered if your vet preapproves. The key is to choose the best coconut oil. Organic coconut oil is supposed to work really well because it doesn’t have a lot of chemicals. Once you purchase the right coconut oil, just rub some coconut oil on your dog’s unsightly stains for a few days. If you’re consistent with applying coconut to your dog’s eyes, you are more likely to see results.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Many pet owners swear by using apple cider vinegar to get rid of tear staining. If you want to try this home remedy, drop a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into your four-legged friends’ water or food bowl.
Hydrogen Peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is also a home remedy that many pet owners have used. After spraying a washcloth with water-diluted hydrogen peroxide, apply gently to your dog’s stained tears. Avoid getting hydrogen peroxide in your pup’s eyes.
Pro Tip: If you are nervous about this home remedy, you can ask a groomer or vet for assistance.
Milk of Magnesia: Milk of magnesia can be combined with hydrogen peroxide to remove tear stains. When you combine milk of magnesia with hydrogen peroxide a paste will form. Apply the paste to your pup’s stained areas.
Regular Grooming: Although it sounds really simple, regular dog grooming can also eliminate tear staining. Always make sure that you’re cleaning your dog’s tear stains frequently. You can clean your dog’s eyes with baby shampoo or eyewash for dogs. Ask your vet about using a contact lens solution too. Grooming your pet by yourself should be something you should learn.
Antibiotics: While vets have prescribed antibiotics for this cosmetic condition, they usually are not the first recommended treatment. Many studies suggest that antibiotics can severely harm a dog’s body. If a vet does proscribe antibiotics, the dosage will probably be really low.
Whitening Products: Some pet owners have used whitening products to treat this cosmetic issue. These products may be able to whiten your dog’s fur, but most vets wouldn’t recommend them. The truth of the matter is that whitening products typically feature extremely damaging chemicals. You don’t want these chemicals to make your dog’s tear stains worse.
Pro Tip: If you plan on using a home remedy, you should definitely get veterinary approval. Do not try to remove dog tear stains with makeup remover or bleach.
How To Say “Goodbye” To Your Dog’s Tear Stains Forever
While there are several great treatments for stains in dogs, they don’t have to be part of your dog’s life forever.
If you are like most pet owners, you want to all about preventing tear stains from developing in the first place. Here is a list of great ways to prevent tear stains in dogs.
- Trim the fur around your dog’s eyes.
- Clean your dog’s face on a regular basis
- Make sure that your dog’s facial hair never touch its eyes
- Ensure your pup has a healthy diet without cheap fillers. Avoid feeding your dog over-processed food.
- Try keeping your dog hydrated with only filtered water, and ensure that the water bowl isn’t harboring bacteria
- Give your dog a small amount of coconut oil every day
- Talk with a vet about effective ways to strengthen your dog’s immune system. A strong immune system can fight off infections.
- Walk your dog every day, and give it tasty treats
- Rinse your pup’s eyes throughout allergy season. You can also use lubricating drops.
- Take your dog to the vet at least once a year for a thorough eye examination
1. How do I get rid of my dog’s tear stains?
The most common treatments for stains in dogs are over-the-counter products and home remedies.
Pet owners can get rid of stains in dogs with tear stain removers, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, and hydrogen peroxide.
Although it’s really rare, a vet may recommend antibiotics to treat dog tear stains. If a vet does prescribe antibiotics for your dog, the dosage will be below.
For the best results, consult with a vet to determine the right treatment for tear staining in dogs.
Pro Tip: Avoid using whitening products to treat tear stains.
2. Do dog tear stains go away?
Generally speaking, dog tear stains won’t go away without some kind of treatment. That’s why you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
More often than not, you’ll be able to treat tear staining with over-the-counter products and home remedies.
However, if your dog’s tear stains are the result of eye disease or injury, you’ll need to work with an experienced vet to treat the underlying problem.
Depending on the specific cause of the tear stains, a vet may prescribe antibiotics or another effective treatment.
3. Are tear stains bad for dogs?
While tear stains are not necessarily bad for dogs, they could indicate a more serious problem.
According to much research, dog tear stains could be caused by common eye conditions like glaucoma, pink eye, ear infections, excess tear production, and many more. Dog tear stains can also be caused by an eye injury.
A vet will be able to tell you exactly what is causing your dog’s tear stains. If a vet suspects that your dog is suffering from an eye condition, you may need to take your pup to an ophthalmologist.