How to Get Rid of Tear Stains on Dogs: 8 Effective Tips

Many dog breeds are prone to tear stains. Tear stains are reddish-brown, and can be seen down the sides of the dog’s muzzle or from the inner corner of its eye. The appearance of tear stains is easily identifiable in white dogs, but dog owners with darker coat friends may find it more challenging.

Tear stains are problematic for many reasons: they can lead to infection if not cleaned, they can signal an underlying health condition such as allergies, and they can be unsightly for pet owners. Fortunately, there are a number of tried-and-true methods for removing tear stains and keeping away their recurrence. Read on for eight effective tips for rescuing your dog’s eyes from those pesky tear stains and restoring their clear, bright look.

Regular Grooming and Cleaning

The best way to prevent or remove tear stains from your dog is to keep them well-groomed and clean at all times. Use a soft cloth or pet-safe wipes on a regular basis to keep the area around your dog’s eyes clean and free of germs, dirt, and tears. To avoid cross-contamination, make sure to use a different cloth for each eye. Grooming your dog on a regular basis will keep the area around his eyes clean and healthy, and will also help to avoid tear stains.

Specialized Tear Stain Removers

Another way to get rid of tear stains from your dog’s fur, you can find a number of products on the market that are designed for this exact purpose. These products usually include gentle but effective ingredients like vitamins, concentrates, or herbal extracts to eliminate dog tear stains without harming your dog’s sensitive skin or eyes. If you decide on this method, be careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely and to choose only products that are suitable and safe for your dog.

Dietary Changes

Dietary issues, such as food allergies or sensitivities, can cause or worsen tear stains in some cases. You may want to think about getting your dog a high-quality hypoallergenic dog food that helps with digestion and lessens the likelihood of food allergies or intolerances. To keep your dog healthy and free of health problems like tear stains, don’t give them table scraps or cheap commercial dog food with artificial ingredients, fillers, or preservatives.

Water Quality

Another factor that could affect how often your dog gets tear stains is the quality of the water he drinks. Hard water or water containing high levels of minerals such as magnesium or iron can leave behind mineral deposits on your dog’s fur, leading to ugly stains. For the sake of your dog’s health (and to lessen the likelihood of tear stains), you need to think about using purified or filtered water for your dog’s drinking and bathing needs. Also, teaching your dog to drink from a water bottle is a great option for decreasing stains around your dog’s mouth. 

Natural Remedies

Tear stains in dogs can be reduced with the use of a few natural solutions. For example, try adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water to help equalize the pH levels in it and lessen the likelihood of tear stains.  Similarly, if your dog has a food allergy or sensitivity, giving them plain, unsweetened yogurt with probiotics will help with digestion issues and lessen the likelihood of tear stains. Before giving your dog any kind of natural remedy, it’s a good idea to check with your vet to make sure it’s safe.

Regular Veterinary Checkups

Tear stains in dogs might manifest from underlying health conditions such as eye infections, blocked tear ducts, or dental difficulties. Get your dog checked up by the vet on a regular basis to catch any health issues early on and treat them if they’re causing tear stains. If your dog is experiencing tear stains or other eye health problems, a visit to the vet will provide a complete diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Avoid Irritants

The irritation of your dog’s eyes and the worsening of tear stains might be caused by certain environmental factors or by grooming products. If you want to keep your dog’s eyes healthy and happy, it’s best to keep harsh shampoos, soaps, and other grooming products away from them. You should also make sure that your dog doesn’t have any dust, pollen, or other allergens in his living space as they might cause him to tear excessively and leave unsightly stains. Use hypoallergenic bedding, avoid scented cleaning products, and make sure their living space is well-ventilated to help reduce your dog’s exposure to potential irritants.

Consult With a Professional

If you see that your dog’s tear stains won’t go away no matter what you do, or if you see any other worrying signs like redness, swelling, or discharge around their eyes, a visit to a professional veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist is a must. These professionals will do a detailed eye examination, identify any underlying health concerns, and suggest suitable treatment options to eliminate tear stains and improve your dog’s general eye health. In some cases, surgical procedures or prescription medications are necessary to remove tear stains completely.

It might be tempting for dog owners to seek a fast and easy solution when dealing with unsightly tear stains in their dog’s eyes. However, while many tear stain-removing methods work, some of them can make things even worse in the long term. Remember, there is no easy solution or magic bullet for removing dog tear stains.  It will take time and regular, persistent effort throughout your dog’s life for any method to succeed. Unfortunately, far too many pet owners give up before any solution has a chance to work.

Keep in mind that removing tear stains requires patience and consistent effort over time. Follow the eight steps above or just any of them, and you’ll see the dog’s bright and clear eyes very soon.  Practice regular grooming and cleaning, do some dietary changes, check water quality, explore natural remedies and avoid irritants, and most importantly – schedule regular veterinary checkups. See, it’s not that hard!

Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson is an expert in dog behavior with over a decade of experience, and she is also passionate about working with cats and birds. In addition to contributing pet content to, she is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Brenda received her Bachelor of Science in Biological and Biomedical Sciences & Philosophy from Colorado College in 2014. She has taken classes in writing and remote animal behavior consulting, as well as courses on how to manage aggressive dogs and litter box issues. In 2016, she obtained her dog behavior consulting certification and joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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