Effective Ways to Eliminate Tear Stains on Your Dog

Written by: Jamie
Updated: September 23, 2023
Chihuahua with tear stains

Tear stains in dogs are unsightly streaks, typically reddish-brown, that form below your pet's eyes due to a variety of factors, including breed predisposition, allergies, or health conditions.

As pet parents, it's natural to want to keep our fur babies in their best condition possible, and removing these tear stains is part of that routine. 


Understand and Address the Causes

Tear stains are more than a cosmetic issue. Their existence signifies a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.

As such, a key step to eliminating these stains is to understand the underlying causes and address them appropriately.


Step #1: Identify the Root Causes

Tear stains can result from a variety of factors, so identifying the root cause is crucial.

  • Genetic Factors: Some breeds, like Maltese, Shih Tzus, and Poodles, are more prone to tear staining due to their facial structure. If this is the case, your vet might suggest methods tailored specifically for your breed.
  • Health Conditions: Tear stains may be a symptom of an underlying health condition such as infections, allergies, or eye disorders. If your dog displays other signs of discomfort like excessive scratching, it's essential to consult a veterinarian.
  • Environmental Triggers: Items such as plastic feeding bowls can sometimes lead to tear stains as they are thought to harbour bacteria more easily than steel, glass or ceramic bowls. Switching to stainless steel or ceramic bowls can help alleviate this issue.


Step #2: Implement Suitable Changes

Once you've identified the root cause, it's crucial to make necessary changes to address it.

This could involve modifying your dog's diet, altering their environment, or introducing new healthcare routines.


Step #3: Monitor Changes Over Time

After implementing changes, you should monitor your dog to see if there's improvement.

This might take some time, so patience is key. If the tear stains persist or worsen, it may be a sign that your intervention is not effective, and it's time to consider other options.


Adopt Proper Grooming Habits

Just as we maintain our personal hygiene to keep ourselves healthy and presentable, grooming is a crucial part of pet care.

It is about more than just keeping your dog looking its best; it plays a vital role in their overall health and wellbeing. 

Proper grooming can even aid in preventing and eliminating tear stains, transforming your pet’s appearance and improving their comfort level. This involves regular eye cleaning, trimming hair around the eyes, and providing a balanced diet.

Cavalier king Charles Spaniel on the table for grooming


Regular Eye Cleaning

When it comes to tear stains, prevention is often the best treatment. A cornerstone of this preventative approach is regular eye cleaning.

Tear stains are often the result of tears mixing with bacteria or yeast, creating a breeding ground for further infection. 

Regularly cleaning your dog's eyes with a dog-specific eye wash or wipe can disrupt this process, preventing the accumulation of tear residue that can lead to stains.

When cleaning your dog's eyes, remember to always be gentle and use soft, clean materials. This is a sensitive area, and rough handling can cause discomfort or even injury.

Additionally, always clean the eyes in a downward motion away from the eye, as this helps to avoid introducing new bacteria into the eye area.


Trim Hair Around the Eyes

Another essential aspect of grooming for tear stain prevention is hair maintenance, particularly around the eyes. 

Long hair around the eyes can irritate them, causing your dog to produce excess tears, which can lead to more tear stains. By keeping this area neatly trimmed, you can help reduce this irritation and, as a result, decrease the likelihood of tear stains.

However, trimming hair near the eyes is a delicate process that requires precision. If you're not comfortable doing this yourself, don't hesitate to seek help from a professional groomer. 

These experts have the training and experience needed to safely and effectively trim hair in sensitive areas, and they can provide invaluable advice on maintaining your pet's grooming regimen at home.


Provide a Healthy Diet

Grooming isn't just about external practices. Internal health is just as critical when it comes to preventing tear stains, and diet plays a significant role in this.

A balanced, nutritious diet can boost your pet's overall health and contribute to fewer tear stains.

Some pet foods may contain additives or allergens that can lead to excessive tearing, resulting in more tear stains. Thus, you may want to consider:

  • Feeding your dog high-quality, natural foods. These often contain fewer additives and are typically more easily digestible, contributing to better overall health.
  • Avoiding food with artificial colorants and additives. Such ingredients can trigger allergic reactions in some dogs, leading to increased tear production.
  • Keeping your dog hydrated with plenty of fresh water. Proper hydration can help regulate your dog's tear production and reduce the risk of tear stains.

Adopting proper grooming habits plays a vital role in preventing and eliminating tear stains. 

This involves regular eye cleaning, appropriate hair maintenance, and provision of a healthy diet.

By integrating these practices into your pet care routine, you can help your beloved canine look and feel their best.

Maltese dog being groomed


Seek Professional Advice

If all else fails or if your dog's tear stains are accompanied by signs of discomfort or other health issues, seeking professional advice should be your next step.


Consult a Veterinarian

A professional veterinarian can provide a thorough examination to diagnose underlying health conditions that could be causing excessive tearing.

They may suggest specific treatments or interventions, such as antibiotics or tear duct surgery for more severe cases.


Visit a Professional Groomer

Professional groomers are trained in handling dogs and can provide a deeper clean than what you might be able to achieve at home. They can also safely trim hair around the eyes, further reducing the likelihood of tear stains.


Consider Tear Stain Products

Several products in the market are designed to reduce or eliminate tear stains. These include wipes, solutions, and nutritional supplements.

However, it's essential to use these under the guidance of a vet to ensure they're safe for your pet.


Wrapping Up

There are several effective ways to eliminate tear stains in your beloved canine. By understanding the underlying causes of tear stains, such as genetics, diet, and eye health, pet owners can implement targeted strategies to address this issue. 

Regular grooming, including gentle cleaning of the eye area, is essential to prevent tear stains from accumulating. 

Maintaining a healthy diet rich in high-quality proteins and minimal additives can help reduce excessive tearing. 

Addressing any underlying health conditions, such as allergies or infections, through proper veterinary care is crucial in managing tear stains. 

Finally, seeking professional advice and using specialized products, such as tear stain removers or supplements, can provide additional support in eliminating tear stains. 

By combining these approaches and consistently monitoring your canine companion's eye health, you can effectively reduce tear stains and ensure the well-being and happiness of your beloved pet.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at Jamie@woofbarkgrowl.co.uk or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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