Removing Your Dog's Tear Stains

Tips & Advice → Removing Your Dog's Tear Stains

Does your dog have reddish tear stains around his eyes? Unfortunately discharge from a dog's eyes and tear stains can be common problems among certain breeds. What causes these stains and what can you do about them?


Generally, tear staining is caused by excessive tearing. This could occur because your dog's eyes are irritated or because your dog's tears are not draining properly. There are many reasons your dog's eyes may be tearing, including genetics, health, diet, fleas, bacterial infection, ear infections, cutting teeth (in puppies), irritation, high mineral content in the dog's drinking water, blocked tear ducts, etc...

You need to get to the source of the excessive tearing or the problem will just keep reoccurring. When the area around the eyes stays moist due to excessive tearing, red yeast bacteria starts to develop producing the staining you see.

Does your dog tear up more during the summer? After eating? If so, your dog's tear stains may be due to allergies. Is your dog's eyes tearing due to a bacterial or yeast infection? This is definitely more serious and requires a vet's attention.


Regardless of the breed, white or light-haired dogs seem to have more visible tear staining as well as dogs with long hair on their faces.

According to WebMD, short-nosed dog breeds, such as Shih-Tzu, Pekingese, Maltese, and Pug, are prone to excessive tearing because they often have shallow eye sockets or hair growth in skin folds around the eyes that cause problems. Also, Cocker Spaniels and Poodles are more likely than other breeds to have blocked tear ducts.

Eliminating Tear Stains

Although those reddish-brown stains can seem unsightly, there are certain remedies that may minimize their appearance. These include:

  • Antibiotics. The antibiotics tetracycline and tylosin are sometimes used to address tear staining, as they reduce or eliminate the likelihood that tear stains will form. This requires a prescription by a vet. However, the prolonged use of antibiotics can lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria, which would be far more dangerous to your pup than a few unsightly stains. If you give your dog antibiotics, carefully follow the instructions provided by your vet.
  • Whitening products. Swabbing the stains with whitening products, prescribed by your vet, or using special grooming products designed for pet fur may help with tear stains.
  • Regular washing of your dog's face.

There are many home remedies and commercial products that address this issue. However, make sure to eliminate any medical reasons before you try and fix the problem yourself.


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