Have you noticed red or brown stains on your dog’s face around the inside corner of their eyes? These are most likely tear stains, caused by tears not draining into the appropriate ducts on your dog’s face but instead running down into the fur on their face.
Tear stains are typically only visible on white or light colored dogs and are very common to some breeds such as Maltese. If you’re looking for ways to remove tear stains from your dog, we’ve gathered up all the key information you need to know to tackle tear stains once and for all!
Best Ways to Prevent Tear Stains
There are a variety of different ways you can try to address tear stains. The methods range from prevention to cleaning, and it may be a matter of trying several things to see what works for your dog. Tear stains are not permanent and most dog’s can have theirs removed with the right combination of treatments. Here are the methods that have strong evidence of success –
Switch to Filtered Water
It may sound silly, but switching your dog to filtered or distilled water can have a massive improvement on tear stains. Excess minerals in some water supplies that aren’t harmful can still increase tear stains. By using filtered water the excess minerals can be removed and your dog can see a remarkable improvement in 1-2 months.
The easiest way to switch to filtered water is to get a faucet-mounted water filter like the one seen below.
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Switch to Healthier Dog Food
Many dog owners report that by making a switch in their dog’s diet they were able to rid their dog of tear stains. The exact culprit in dog food isn’t really known, but many people report by going to a grain-free dog food they saw improvements.
If you’re willing to make a switch at dog food, you should make a switch to the best in the business. We recommend The Farmer’s Dog. The Farmer’s Dog sends fresh dog food to your home on a regular basis so your dog can enjoy high quality, human-grade food with only fresh ingredients!
You can read more about The Farmer’s Dog in our review if you’re interested. If the tear stains aren’t removed after making the switch, you’ll still have your dog on a healthy new diet.
Using Tear Stain Remover Wipes
Tear stain wipes are specially formulated to help breakdown and remove tear stains from your pet’s fur. By using some natural ingredients (no bleach or harsh chemicals), tear stains can typically be managed over time. It will take 1-2 cleanings of your dog’s stains daily and usually ~1 cleaning per day long-term.
Tear stain wipes come in a few different forms. The first and most convenient is a presoaked wipe. These wipes are typically cotton pads in a jar that you can simply remove and wipe, much like a makeup remover.
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If cost is a concern, then you can buy just the tear stain wipe formula and apply it to a cotton pad yourself. This method is cheaper, just don’t re-use cotton pads as bacteria can grow and infect your dog’s eye through repeated use.
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Try Contact Solution or Tearless Shampoo
If you don’t want to buy a tear stain specific remover, you may have some other items around your house already that can fight tear stains. A gentle contact solution (NOT a contact solution with hydrogen peroxide which can sting your dog’s eyes) or tearless/baby shampoo can be used to try to clean away tear stains.
Trim Hair Around the Eye
It’s a good idea to inspect the hair around your dog’s eye to determine if a good trim is in order. If your dog has hair growing long around the eye that’s actually touching your dog’s eyes, this could be a big cause of excess tears and irritation. You should carefully trim the hair back so it’s not touching your dog’s eyes.
Some dog owners also find that by keeping the hair around the corner of the eyes shorter, the tear stains are less pronounced and less visible.
Are Allergies the Issue?
If you notice your dog’s tear stains get worse in some seasons and less visible after winter, the issue could be allergy related causing your dog’s eyes to tear more than they should.
Talk to your vet if you think this is an issue, but most will recommend a generic allergy medication for daily use to control allergy symptoms. Benedryl (or the generic Diphenhydramine) is typically given at a rate of 1 mg per 1 lb of body weight for your dog.
Are Tear Stains Harmful?
A key thing to understand about tear stains is that they’re most often purely a cosmetic issue. It’s usually not a sign that your dog is sad or in pain. Genetically some breeds are just susceptible to tear stains so it shouldn’t be viewed as a health issue.
That being said, you would be wise to check with your vet first. They can rule out medical issues like ear, sinus, or eye infections that could be a contributor.
Why Do Tear Stains Make Fur Red?
Tears contain a pigment called porphyrin which contains some iron. This is why tear stains leave a reddish, rusty color on white fur.
What Dogs Get Tear Stains?
It’s possible that any dog can get tear stains, but they’re much more common in some breeds than others. Due to genetics, breed characteristics, and white fur, some breeds are more commonly affiliated with tear stains. Maltese, Poodles, Shih Tzus, Pugs, and Bichon Frise are some of the most common breeds that get tear stains.