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Home remedy for getting rid of dog tear stains

Please don’t cry! Tear stains are something that is very common in dogs. Just like us humans, dogs sometimes have watery eyes and this can cause a red or orange staining on their fur. Some pet owners may find their dog’s tear stains unsightly but they can also be quite smelly and might actually be a good indication of your dog’s overall health. Whatever the reason, we’re here to help get rid of Fido’s tear stains and keep their face stain free in the future!

What causes tear stains?

Sometimes we cry because we’re watching a sad movie or listening to a sappy love song. Our dogs cry too but it’s not usually because of emotions. There are a number of reasons why your dog may be getting tear stains and it’s usually physiological.

Tear staining or “epiphora” is the result of your dog’s tear having a high concentration of a protein called porphyrin. Porphyrin is a waste product from the body breaking down and metabolizing red blood cells, which is what gives the tear stains their signature “rusty” color.

Under normal conditions, a dog’s tears will drain through the eyelid and into an area called the nasolacrimal duct. After that, the tears then empty into the nose. If a blockage in the nasolacrimal duct occurs, then the tears get backed up and flow from the eyes and dry onto your dog’s fur instead.

There are a number of reasons why your dog may have a blocked tear nasolacrimal duct. Some of the causes for blockages may not be treatable but tear staining can still be managed with good pet care like hygiene and diet!


There are some dogs that almost need to have tear staining into their breed standards as you rarely ever see them without weepy eyes. All breeds have tear staining to some degree even if you may not notice it. However, there are just some dogs like small white dogs that tear stains are just much more apparent. Even if they do not have a pure white coat, there are a few breeds that are more prone to leaky eyes than others. This includes such breeds as:

  • Flat faced or brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs, boxers, pugs, among others.
  • Poodles
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Labradors
  • Golden retrievers
  • Schnauzers
  • Dachshunds
  • Carin and West highland Terriers
  • Maltese
  • Bichon Frise
  • Samoyed
Cute Maltese puppy dog close up head-shot of the eye detail with typical tear staining around the eye. Very shallow depth of field, focus on the eye in the foreground and the detail of the hair around the eye such a sthe tear stains that are common with this breed of dog. dog tear stain stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Size generally doesn’t factor into whether a dog is more likely to have tear stains or not, however there are a number of breed related factors that are. Some dogs can fall into all of these categories or they can be associated with only 1 or 2. These are some of the reasons why certain breeds may be likely to be prone to epiphora:

  • Brachycephaly (causing shallow eye sockets) 
  • Prone to congenital tear duct abnormalities
  • Long or wiry facial hair and long eyelashes
  • White dog breeds


Eye infections are not uncommon in dogs and tear staining may actually be a sign that your dog has one. Eye infections are caused by bacteria, yeast or dirt entering the eye. The resulting redness and swelling from the infection causes a duct blockage, leading to excessive tears production and staining. If you think your dog may have an eye infection, usually identified by abnormal redness around the white of the eye, consult your veterinarian as eye infections are usually only treated with antibiotics.

Trauma to the eye

An eye injury can also cause the blockage of the nasolacrimal duct. If your dog has a traumatic injury around the optical area, it may cause swelling or damage around the duct, causing tears to be redirected out of the eye. If the trauma is not too severe, this blockage may resolve itself.


Just like us humans, allergies can cause weepy eyes in dogs. If your dog's eyes are itchy from allergies, you may notice them rubbing their face on the furniture or carpet. Eye allergies can be treated with the help of antihistamines or a dietary change if food is the cause.

How to prevent tear stains in dogs

Tear stains can be prevented to a certain degree in dogs. There are a number of things you can do at home to keep your dog’s eyes from over watering.

White Chihuahua Dog With Tear Stains White color Chihuahua dog with red tear stains under eyes sitting down and looking forward. dog tear stain stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Feed your dog healthy food

You’d be surprised at how much a healthy gut affects the rest of the body. Food is fuel and sets a baseline for how all organs and systems function. Inflammation can be one of the causes of duct blockages causing tear stains. Inflammation is primarily mediated by the immune system which is greatly affected by your dog’s digestive health.

Dogs need to eat a healthy, balanced meal to support a strong immune system. Food that is full of fillers, preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients can take a toll on your dog’s immune health, leaving them susceptible to watery eyes and infections.

Feeding dogs a diet with healthy superfoods, antioxidants, omega 3s and other functional ingredients can help prevent tear stains and bacterial or yeast infections by improving immunity and balancing hormones. A few great ingredients to look for are cranberries, blueberries, fish oil, leafy greens, flaxseeds and sweet potatoes!

Kabo fresh cooked salmon recipe for dogs in a bowl surrounded by fruits and veggies

Good eye and face hygiene

Dogs with extra eye discharge require a little more facial hygiene than others. Making sure to wipe down your dog’s face on a daily basis will help to reduce tear stains but also get rid of anything that may be causing eye irritation like dirt, bacteria or chemical irritants. Make sure to keep all musty and moist areas like skin folds and face wrinkles dry as well to provide the growth of bacteria and yeasts around the eye.

man's hand cleaning his dog's eyes man's hand cleaning his dog's eyes wiping face dog stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

It is also important to make sure that the hair around your dog’s eyes is trimmed short. This helps with making sure that no irritants get trapped in the optical area or that the hair itself is not causing the eyes to water. Remember to avoid using scissors in this area to avoid any eye accidents and to have a blade on your clippers. If you’re uncomfortable with this, you can ask for help from your veterinarian or groomer.

Home remedy for getting rid of existing tear stains

Removing tear stains on your dog can sometimes feel like a never ending battle. You can purchase eye wipes from the pet store but there are also a few things you can do at home to help remove tear stains that are already there. Here is our solutions for getting rid of your dog’s tear stains:

  1. Start by washing your dog’s eye area really well with a hypoallergenic cloth or wipe. Remember to use only warm water and wipe or towel that won’t leave fibers or irritate the eye.
  2. In a small glass or bowl, mix a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with 8oz of water. Use a cotton ball or hypoallergenic wipe to dip in the solution and wipe the tear stained area. This will help break down the porphyrin that is staining your dog’s hair the brownish-red color. Just be careful to not get any in your dog’s eyes!
  3. Lastly, clean the area again with warm water and be sure to remove any traces of the peroxide.

Profile shot of an american eskimo with tear stains
Profile shot of an american eskimo with tear stains

View Sources

Four paws. “How to clean and remove tear stains.”,then%20empty%20into%20the%20nose

Pet MD. “Treating and preventing dog tear stains” 

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care “Which breeds are most prone to tear stains?”,eyes%20have%20developed%20over%20time

Wag walking. “Can dogs get allergies in their eyes?” 

HELPER, Lloyd C. "The Tear Film in the Dog Causes and Treatment of Diseases Associated with Overproduction and Underproduction of Tears." Animal Eye Research 15, no. 1-2 (1996): 1-2_5.

Gussoni, Flávia Renata Araújo, and Paulo Sérgio de Moraes Barros. "Epiphora in the dog: measurement of the tear pH." Brazilian Journal of Veterinary Research and Animal Science 40 (2003): 87-94.

Winiarczyk, Mateusz, Dagmara Winiarczyk, Tomasz Banach, Lukasz Adaszek, Jacek Madany, Jerzy Mackiewicz, Dorota Pietras-Ozga, and Stanislaw Winiarczyk. "Dog tear film proteome in-depth analysis." PLoS One 10, no. 12 (2015): e0144242.

Eye Envy. “How to remove tear stains from your dog naturally”,any%20in%20your%20dog's%20eyes!

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February 20, 2024
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