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Dog Tear Stains Explained

Are you wondering about the best way to get rid of tear stains on dogs?

 We encourage all pet owners to fully investigate the possible causes of their dog’s and coat stains. Here we provide some useful information to assist you in ensuring you eliminate any underlying causes of tear staining on dogs and learn how to prevent tear stains in the future. Although Glow Groom’s tear stain remedies provide comprehensive protection against unsightly stains, there are plenty of other tips for ensuring the health of your dog. Here we delve into different ways to prevent and treat tear stains.


Quick Facts:

  • Ears, eyes, teeth and gums should be checked regularly;
  • Ears and eyes should be kept as dry as possible;
  • Keep facial hair tidy and remove hair from inside the ears;
  • Have purified water available, preferably in a metal bowl;
  • Protect eyes from shampoo when bathing;
  • Buy organic or natural dry food;
  • Keep fleas under control.

Causes of Dog Tear Stains

There are many possible reasons for excessive tear production, but none are directly responsible for the tear stains on dogs.  Staining is a by-product created by the moisture from increased tearing flowing through the hair below a dog’s eyes. . The constantly wet facial hair is a breeding ground for bacteria and will often lead to excessive tears. The tear ducts become filled with bacteria that react to incoming light and release reddish brown stains into the tears.

This reddish colour can also be influenced by how your dog breaks down red blood cells. In certain dogs, when their blood cells are broken down, a naturally-occurring molecule remains and is flushed out through their tears. This molecule often contains iron, which leaves behind a red colouration on your pet’s face.

Extra care needs to be taken in drying your dog’s ears after bathing.  Many dogs have a lot of hair inside the ears’ which can cause infection. You can gently pluck them with tweezers or trim inside the ears with blunt-nosed scissors (as used for the babies’ nails), or ask your groomer to do it for you.

Many dogs have a genetic sensitivity in the ear drums, with any water remaining likely to cause an ear infection. Any water remaining in the ear will most likely cause an infection.  Certain breeds of dogs have large eyes and short muzzles, which can also tend to allow more eye irritation and less drainage. This is common among dog breeds like Shih-tzus, Pekingeses, Malteses, and Pugs. You may notice that dogs with pale or white fur have more visible tear stains. However, dogs with darker fur are just as susceptible, the stains are just harder to see.

When puppies cut their first teeth, excessive tearing can occur.  Often at this same time the puppy’s hair is growing just long enough to stick into their eyes, causing irritation that might increase tearing.  When cutting their permanent adult teeth, (usually between 5 to 8 months of age), the changes of the structure of their mouth and facial bones put pressure on the tear ducts and increase tearing.  Many dogs that have had no previous staining problems are prone to developing staining during this time.  Dogs of any age with teeth or gum problems are likely to produce more tears, increasing the stains.

Many dogs can be susceptible to allergies coming from the environment.  Exposure to smoke, wind, heating and air-conditioning have been known to cause allergies in some animals. Try to keep your dog from situations where they are exposed to eye irritations.  Always take care when bathing, as shampoo in a dog’s eyes can also cause irritation. 

The drinking water in many areas has a high mineral content.  If a dog splashes while drinking water from a wide dish, getting the mouth and beard wet, the minerals may cause staining and the moisture may breed bacteria, leading to stains.  Providing your dog with purified water and using a metal bowl can assist with these problems.  Another suggestion is to train your dog to drink from a dripping bottle to eliminate moisture from around the face and beard.

Diet is known to play a significant role in eye discharge and staining.  Many dog owners find that feeding their animals dry food with no preservatives, fillers or additives will boost their resistance to inflammatory reactions, therefore aiding stain-free faces.  Many commercial pet foods also contain meat pulp along with artificial colours that can stain the hair around the mouth. Check how your pet's diet rates here:

If you’re wondering how to remove tear stains from dog’s eyes naturally, we use and recommend Ziwi Peak Air Dried Dog Food and Bell & Bone Chews and Treats  BUY HERE.

Another potential source for staining is fleas.  The instruction on most flea shampoos is to start shampooing from the head down.  This is because fleas also need moisture to survive and stay mostly around the head, next to the wetness of the eyes.  The constant and vigorous scratching is the dog’s way to relieve the itch resulting from the excrement (digested blood) the fleas leave behind, likely to cause an infection.

When people continuously ask, why does my dog have tear stains, it may be because some dogs may have clogged tear ducts, which need to be irrigated by a vet.  Whilst a blocked tear duct system usually has no bearing on causing stains or weepy eyes, they should still be monitored for the health and wellbeing of your pet. Dog tear stain removers can be a great way of ensuring the health of pets with blocked tear drainage holes or ducts. This way you can clean dog tear stains off your pooch for good.


If your dog suddenly shows signs of increased tear stains and acute staining around their eyes or clumping of the hair around the eyes accompanied by a runny nose, we recommend a visit to your vet as soon as possible.  These symptoms are signs of “epiphora”, the medical term for abnormal excessive tearing of the eye.  “Epiphora” is caused by a variety of conditions that affect tear production, tear flow, or the function of the eyelids.  The treatment for “epiphora” varies according to the underlying cause and your vet will provide an accurate diagnosis.

Poodles and brachycephalic breeds with pushed in faces (Shih-tzus, Pugs etc) are especially vulnerable to “epiphora” because of their shallow eye sockets. This means that tears frequently spill out onto the dog’s face, exacerbating the stains on their face while preventing their eyelids from fully closing. Across all breeds, Glow Groom can help treat your dog’s tear stains, even those with these sorts of issues.

Once you have ensured your dog’s overall health and comfort with your veterinarian and ruled out any underlying causes as outlined above, you can feel confident in using Glow Groom™  dog tear stain remover to eliminate bacteria and remove tear stains at the source. Glow Groom is the ideal product for preventing tear stains in dogs in the long run.