Already have an account?
Get back to the

Remedies for Dog Tear Stains: Vets’ Guidance for Cleaning Your Pup’s Face at Home

All it takes is some pantry staples!

As pet parents, we love looking at our dogs’ adorable faces, but it can be distracting while gazing into those soulful eyes and noticing those dark tear stains running from their corners. Not only does it steal the attention from the pooch’s beauty, it can also be irritating for them. Sure, you can run to the store and pick up a product designed specifically for tear stains, but you may first want to try treating the marks yourself with natural home remedies.

What causes dog tear stains and what exactly are they?

We know dogs are completely capable of feeling and expressing emotions. Of course they get sad, scared, excited and happy, and sometimes they communicate that with vocalizations and other body language. Despite the moniker though, dogs don’t produce tears when crying. However, canines do experience epiphora, an overflow of tears which are either being overproduced or not properly drained through the tear ducts.

Dogs tend to get stains on the fur beneath the eyes next to the nose which have a reddish-brown color and can sometimes be damp. Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, veterinarian at Petlearnia, explains that there is a substance in dog tears that contains red pigment (an iron-containing substance called porphyrin). Over time, she says, contact between this pigment and white or pale fur around the eyes causes tear staining.

“Tear staining occurs more often when dogs have eye disease, such as ingrowing eyelashes or allergies causing excessive eye watering,” Dr. Woodnutt says. “Blocked tear ducts also cause overflow of tears, leading to increased tear staining. ‘Dry eye’ is an immune-mediated disease that causes sore eyes and tear staining. Lastly, conformation and coat type can contribute to staining, too: short-snouted dogs with long hair on the face are prone to eye irritation causing staining.”

If you have reason to suspect that your dog is experiencing tears because they have a foreign object stuck in their eye, are experiencing severe allergies or another ailment such as conjunctivitis or experiencing irritation or discomfort, this is when you’ll want to bring Fido to the vet. In most other cases, tear stains are not an emergency and you can likely treat them yourself at home.

Home remedies for dog tear stains

While plenty of manufacturers make products formulated to clean and prevent dog tear stains, there are simpler, all-natural options you can try before making those purchases. In any case, always consult your vet before trying any commercial or home products on your dog.

How to remove dog tear stains

Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM, suggests a solution consisting of one tablespoon of witch hazel as it is an astringent that can help dry moisture, assist with a potential secondary skin infection and act as an anti-inflammatory. Next, add a tablespoon of aloe vera, for which the same benefits apply. Lastly, add coconut oil as it acts as an antibacterial and binds to the oil on the dog’s skin to help lift the stains over time. He mixes up the ingredients, soaks some onto a piece of gauze and uses it to gently wipe the dog’s stains without making direct contact with the eye itself. Dr. Jones suggests repeating this method twice a day and says you should see a significant improvement in about a month.

Watch this video to see him in action:


Dog Tear Staining: All Natural Tear Stain Removal Recipe #tears #tearstains #dogtearstains #dogtears #tearstainremover

♬ original sound – Andrew Jones, DVM

You can also use plain warm water and a soft cloth or pad to wipe the stained fur. Then, use a clean cloth with water that is a bit hotter, but still warm enough to touch or even a warm chamomile tea bag and use it as a compress to soothe and hopefully help loosen the tear ducts, Dr. Jones says. Do this with caution to ensure the compresses are not too hot and will not possibly burn your dog. He also suggests trying to massage the tear ducts with that cloth compress by using gentle circular pressure in the corner of the eye. This method should be used three to four times a day for at least two weeks to best gauge whether it’s working.

Important to note: If there is an underlying health issue causing your dog’s excess tears, it will need to be treated by a veterinarian. For any dog that is genetically predisposed, it’s likely that tears can’t be completely prevented and the dog will likely experience stains intermittently throughout their life.

How to prevent dog tear stains

Experts agree that the most important step to minimize dog tear stains is grooming. You’ll want to consistently keep the dog’s fur, especially around their nose and eyes, as short and clean as possible. The area should be kept trimmed, consistently wiped clean and well-dried so the fur is not left damp, which can cause skin and coat ailments. Plain or pet-specific saline solution can also be used to regularly flush the eyes out and minimize tears.

“To prevent excessive tears and stains, manage your dog’s diet and environment carefully,” says Dr. Stacie Atria of holistic practice Lotus Veterinary Alternatives. “Allergens can be a significant contributor to tear staining. Regularly clean your dog’s living area and bedding to minimize exposure to dust, pollen and mold.”

Dr. Atria adds that a well-balanced, wholesome diet can also aid in reducing allergic reactions and inflammation, and recommends considering herbal supplements like chamomile or ginger, which can help soothe underlying irritations and promote better digestive health.

Click through for more on dog health and wellness!

Why Is My Dog Coughing? Veterinarian Breaks Down the Potential Causes

Why Is My Dog Panting So Much? Vet Weighs in + Offers Genius Solutions

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fritos? Vet Explains This Strange Scent

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.