How to deal with tear stains on dogs

Are you struggling with tear stains on your white or light colored dog? As a professional groomer, I see many, many dogs exhibiting unsightly tear stains and beard stains. Additionally, some of these dogs are even discoloring their feet, legs, and body from the saliva left on their fur from licking and chewing.

Possible causes of tear stains

The stain is usually reddish in color and sometimes emits an odor. It is important to try to determine the cause of the staining. Some possible causes are:

* genetic predisposition

* high mineral content in drinking water

* eye infection

* ear infections

*irritating eyelashes or hair rubbing against the eye

* candidiasis (from the area around the eye that remains moist)

* blocked tear ducts

* diet

* parasites such as fleas and moths

* allergies

You should consult with your veterinarian or groomer to try to narrow down the possible cause of the tear stain. Once you’ve ruled out some of the obvious medical conditions, like infections, extra eyelashes, and blocked tear ducts, you’ll be able to tackle the conditions you can have control over.

If your dog is experiencing irritation or infection in the ear, there is a high incidence of the infection going all the way through his body and creating multiple problems at all times. Many dogs that we see that have tear stains are also affected by inner ear infections. So be sure to confirm that your dog’s ears are clean and free of infection. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate ear drops and/or antibiotics. You will need to be diligent in treating your ears as prescribed to alleviate the condition.


Dog owners should evaluate the food they feed their pets and make sure they are using a high-quality dog ​​food that is not full of sugar, salt, preservatives, and chemicals. If you are feeding your dog canned food, consider introducing a high-quality dry food to provide optimal nutrition.

The next item to watch closely is the water your dog drinks. Tap water can be high in minerals, and well water can be high in various elements, such as copper and iron, that could contribute to tear stains. Lately, a popular suggestion is to train your dog to drink from a water bottle (thereby preventing high-mineral water from settling on the fur). Another idea is to use distilled water.

There are several products currently on the market that address the problem of tear stains. Many of these products contain a percentage of antibiotic. Unless you are specifically dealing with an infection in your dog’s eyes or ears, it would be wise to discuss the ramifications of prolonged antibiotic use with your veterinarian.


There are two possible solutions for tear stains that can be easily implemented. The first is to add a small amount of white vinegar (1 teaspoon) to your pet’s water. Start with a smaller amount in the water until your pet can adjust to the taste. Vinegar changes the pH of the water.

Second, include 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese (yes, like Philadelphia brand) in your dog’s food or treat daily. Customers who have tried this method have found that tear stains disappear within three to four weeks.

In any case, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions, allergies, or infections that may be causing your dog’s tear stains. Once you’ve ruled out those possibilities, you can tackle the other options. Always check with your vet when trying a new regimen.

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