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Tear Stains Explained

We encourage all pet owners to fully investigate the possible causes of their pets’ tear stains and coat stains. Here we provide some useful information to assist you in ensuring you eliminate any underlying causes of the problem and learn how to control it effectively.


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 Tear Stains

There are many possible reasons for excessive tearing, but none are directly responsible for the stains.  Staining is a by product created by the moisture from increased tearing flowing through the hair below the eyes.  The constantly wet facial hair is a breeding ground for bacteria.  The tear ducts become filled with bacteria that react to incoming light and release a brownish/red secretion into the tears;

Extra care needs to be taken in drying your pet’s ears after bathing.  Many dogs/cats 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/cats have a genetic sensitivity in the ear drums.  Any water remaining in the ear will most likely cause an infection.  Certain breeds of dogs and cats have large eyes and short muzzles, which can also tend to allow more eye irritation and less drainage;

When puppies and kittens cut their first teeth excessive tearing can often occur.  Often at this same time the puppy or kitten’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 and cats that have had no previous staining problems are prone to developing staining during this time.  Dogs and cats of any age with teeth or gum problems are likely to produce more tears, increasing the stains;

Many dogs and cats 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 pet from situations where they are exposed to eye irritations.  Always take care when bathing, as shampoo in the eyes can also cause irritation.

The drinking water in many areas has a high mineral content.  If a pet 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 pet with purified water and using a metal bowl can assist with these problems.  Another suggestion is to train your pet 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 pet owners find that feeding their animals dry food with no preservatives, fillers or additives will boost their resistance to inflammatory reactions, therefore an aid to 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:

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 pet’s way to relieve the itch resulting from the excrement (digested blood) the fleas leave behind, likely to cause an infection.

Some animals may have clogged tear ducts, which need to be irrigated by a vet.  Whilst blocked tear ducts usually have no bearing on causing stains or weepy eyes, they should still be monitored for the health and wellbeing of your pet.


If your pet suddenly shows signs of increased tearing and acute staining 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 the underlying cause and your vet will provide an accurate diagnosis.

Once you have ensured your pets overall health and comfort with your veterinarian and ruled out any underlying causes as outlined above,  you can feel confident in using Glow Groom™ tear stain remedy to eliminate bacteria and tear stains at the source.