How to Clean and Remove Dog Tear Stains

Have you noticed dark discoloration in the fur around your dog’s eyes? That’s a telltale sign of dog tear stains, which are a common occurrence in many breeds—especially those with white or light-colored coats. Discover the causes and how to get rid of dog tear stains.

What Are Dog Tear Stains?

Dog tear stains are a result of excessive tear production, which is technically known as “epiphora.” Normally, your dog’s tears drain through the eyelid and into an area called the nasolacrimal duct. From there, the tears then empty into the nose. However, if this duct becomes blocked for any reason, or if it does not develop properly, the tears get backed up and flow from the eyes instead.

This residue then settles into the fur around the eyes and often appears in a dark brown or reddish color. A rusty color is typically caused by porphyrin, which is a waste by-product that comes from the breakdown of red blood cells. Needless to say, breeds with light-colored coats—such as the Bichon Frise or Maltese—have the most visible tear stains.

Dog Tear Stain Causes

There are a variety of reasons your furry friend has dog tear stains. According to PetMD, common causes include:

Ingrown Hair or Eyelashes

Your dog’s eyes may be tearing more frequently due to overgrown hair or eyelashes that have been caught in the tear ducts.


From the seasons changing to even the tap water your dog drinks, allergens may lead to excessive tear production.

Shallow Eye Sockets

Certain dog breeds have facial structures with sunken eye sockets and shorter noses that can lead to more frequent tears.

Blocked Tear Drainage Holes

Specifically known as puncta, these can become blocked from previous infections or excess scar tissue, causing tears to not drain properly.

In most cases, dog tear stains are common and manageable. However, some instances may be linked to other health issues. For example, tear stains that are more brownish than red-colored and have a foul odor could indicate a yeast infection. Always consult your veterinarian to understand your dog’s individual circumstances and the cause behind the tearing.

Tips for Tear Stain Prevention and Removal

white dog on leash with tear stains

Try these tips to remove your furry friend’s tear stains and help prevent them in the future.

Tip #1: Wipe the corners of your dog’s eyes using a soft rag or paper towel dampened with clean, warm water. Feel free to do this regularly or request the cleanup from your groomer. If you’re looking for an at-home dog tear stain remover, try Healthy Promise™ Pet Eye Cleaning Wipes to safely remove tear stains with a single wipe.

Tip #2: Keep the hairs around your dog’s eyes trimmed. This will limit the amount of excess fur that could clump together and potentially lead to excessive tearing.

Tip #3: Use filtered water in your dog’s water bowls rather than from the tap. This will reduce the high mineral content present in tap water, which could help reduce staining.

Tip #4: In some cases, oral medication can be used to help prevent overproduction of tears. Always discuss with your veterinarian about the best decisions for your furry friend.

All Clean and All Clear!

We encourage you to try out these tips for how to get rid of tear stains on dogs. Remember, many lighter-colored dogs show the effects of tear stains more than other breeds—and it’s very common! If you believe this is a part of a larger issue, schedule a visit with your veterinarian. We hope your furry friend is feeling happy and healthy!