5 (Easy Ways) On How to Stop Dog Tear Stains

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There are few helpless feelings that can match seeing your dog tear up and not knowing why it’s happening, especially when you see their tears building up to the point that it actually stains their fur over time.

Luckily, though, tear staining on dogs is (generally) not directly related to serious or significant health risks – though it can be a sign that something isn’t quite right with your furry little family member.

Below we shed a bit of light are not only how to solve dog tear stains from discoloring the fur around your dog’s eyes, but we also highlight how to get this to your situation under control so that your dog isn’t “crying” all the time.

Let’s get started!

What You Need to Know About Dog Tear Stains

Right out of the gate, you should know that your dog may have overactive ducts for reasons that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their emotions – but instead a lot more to do with whether or not they have fur in their eyes, their food, and even the water they drink or their allergies!

Tear staining is super common with all different kinds of dog breeds because there are a multitude of reasons behind your dog kicking their excessive tear production into overdrive.

Let’s go over some of the most important things you need to know about dog tear stains before we tackle the step-by-step breakdown of how to solve this problem once and for all moving forward.

What Causes Dog Tear Stains?

As we just mentioned a moment ago, there are a bunch of different reasons that your dog may be dealing with stains around their eyes, their face, and dog’s eye socket in specific.

Some of these reasons include, but definitely aren’t limited to:

  • Longer fur or hair that finds its way curling into your dog’s eyes
  • Any different number of allergens or irritants that may be causing their eyes to produce more dog tears than normal
  • Poor food quality, especially foods that contain a lot of extra iron or other minerals that can oxidize when flushed from the tear ducts of your dog’s eyes and down to their face and around their eyes sockets
  • Eyeball infections (like pinkeye) can lead to overactive dog’s tear ducts as well
  • Shallow eye sockets that are common with certain types of dog breeds (like pugs, shih tzu, bulldogs, etc.)
  • Inverted eyelid issues that can happen spontaneously
  • Damage to the tear duct openings themselves
  • Scarring around the eye, usually caused by an errant dog fingernail when they are scratching their face or their eyes

… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Dog with Sad Eyes

Can Tap Water Cause Dog Tear Stains?

Believe it or not, even low-quality tapwater can cause eye stains as well.

Hard water in specific (water that is filled with extra minerals, particularly iron and the like) has a tendency to be the root cause of eye discharge and eye stain that can’t be traced back to anything else.

If you’re having a tough time figuring out what’s causing the eye area of your animal to be rust colored from their tears, it may be worth running a water check and hooking up a filter from here on out.

Are Dog Tear Stains a Symptom of Something Dangerous?

In the overwhelming majority of situations, dog’s tear stains aren’t going to be indicative of more serious problems that could be plaguing your furry little family member.

Usually these staining issues are caused by something like hair around the eyes, something in their food or water that isn’t agreeing with them, or even just some general allergens (like pollen, pollutants, etc.).

Sometimes staining is caused by your dog just scratching their eyes a little more aggressively than they usually do!

At the same time, significant tear staining or tear stains that are nearly impossible to get rid of (meaning that they have been happening for years and years) usually indicates something has gone wrong “under the hood”.

You may be dealing with an eye infection, damaged blood cells, cataracts, a serious allergy, or something else entirely. It’s not a bad idea to pop down to the vet and have a professional give your dog a closer look if you are concerned.

Are Dog Tear Stain Remover Products Effective? Safe?

Some dog tear stain removers are very effective and work really well (especially those that are made from something like apple cider vinegar or other natural solutions), but you want to be at least a bit weary of chemical based products.

It’s not that these products aren’t effective at helping with tear drainage and great when you want to treat tear stain specifically. It’s just that they can then cause another allergic reaction on their own, producing more tears and more stains around the face and eyes – compounding the issue moving forward.

If you’re going to use these kinds of products make sure that you get a veterinarian to give you the all clear ahead of time and even then use them only very sparingly to clean dog hair from staining.

How Often Should I Use Tear Stain Remover?

As we alluded to just a moment ago, you’re going to want to make sure that you are using products designed to remove tear stains as sparingly as possible.

Anytime you’re thinking about putting chemicals near the eyes or eye sockets of your dog you need to be sure you know exactly what you are getting into.

Try to use a product to remove tear stains maybe once a month (or even more sparingly than that).

In between you want to use the step-by-step solutions we highlight below to clear up those rust discolorations around the eyes!


Step By Step Solution for Solving Dog Tear Stain Issues

a dog that wants to cry

1. Look at Food and Water Quality First

The very first thing you want to do is look into the quality of the dog food and the water you are giving your furry little family member on a daily basis.

Even if the food or water has just a bit of extra minerals in it those minerals are going to build up over time, and eventually are going to lead to overactive tear ducts and cause tear stains all on their own.

Look to eliminate foods that have a lot of corn, a lot of wheat, and a lot of “meat meal” mixed in and use purified, distilled, or reverse osmosis filtered water whenever possible.

2. Visit the Vet for a Tear Duct Inspection

Responsible pet owners should never feel nervous about taking their pup down to the veterinarian for a hands-on inspection, especially if they are having a real nightmare of a time getting rid of red tear stains after cleaning up the quality of their food or water.

Your veterinarian will be able to tell you exactly what’s going on with your dogs, why your dog’s face as red tear stains, and whether or not there are any other underlying health issues that need to be addressed to resolve this problem ASAP.

Best of all, it probably isn’t going to cost all that much for this kind of quick checkup.

On top of all the information you get to fix this problem, your vet should also be able to do a nice eye wash for your dogs – pampering them a little bit before you get them home.

3. Flush with Saline

If your veterinarian tells you that your dogs were unfortunately born with narrow tear ducts (something that happens with all kinds of dogs across all kinds of breeds), or that they have “angel eyes”, it may not be a bad idea to flush with saline solution every now and again.

Chihuahuas, cocker spaniel, and poodles are just some of the breeds of dogs that are known to have narrower ducts. A bit of saline solution flushed through their eyes every now and again will help keep things nice and moist but will also help to control tear stains and the production of tears in the first place.

Don’t expect an overnight fix with saline, though.

Over-the-counter contact lens cleaning solution or straight up saline will be a great long-term fix, but it can take up to four weeks or more to treat tear stains and eliminate them completely.

4. Gently Wipe Tears Away Daily

Another great way to get on top of tears (to get them off of your dog’s face) is to simply wipe them away on a regular basis using a tissue or a microfiber cloth.

You really need to be sure that you are extra gentle, though. You don’t want to risk eye damage when trying to fix the dog’s tears problem in the first place.

Make sure that you are always wiping away from the eye of your dogs to avoid this kind of eye damage and that you aren’t ever pinching or excess tearing while you are working near their face.

Some people like to use a cotton ball with a little bit of contact lens solution soaked into it. That works pretty well, too.

The general idea here, though, is to be really gentle and really methodical so that you don’t exacerbate the issue going forward.

5. Eliminate Environmental Factors

Finally, it’s a good idea to look into any environmental issues that could be causing trouble for your dogs.

You’d be surprised at the amount of environmental issues that can be linked to causing tear stains on your dogs eyes – we are talking about pollen, dust, debris, the kind of fabric softener or detergent you use on your sheets, cleaning products you used throughout your home, products you used to give them baths, and the list goes on and on.

You’ll usually know if environmental issues are causing problems with your dog’s eyes by the simple fact that your dog will usually be dealing with other allergic reaction symptoms, too.

Some environmental issues can even lead to yeast infection or ear infection problems on top of being one of the root causes tear stains have been linked to.

Remove environmental factors one at a time to see which one are the actual causes of this condition and then try to remove those problems permanently if possible.


Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, most of the time when you’re dealing with tear problems with your dogs it can be traced back to something simple like hair in their eyeball, water filled with extra minerals, or just some allergens and irritants that are picking up out of nowhere.

Every now and again, though, you’ll be dealing with something a little more substantial – food additives that don’t belong in their food bowls at all, an underlying condition (like some sort of infection), or other causes that require a more involved approach to remedy.

Thankfully though, the signs of tearing are going to be pretty obvious to spot. As soon as you start seeing those red oxidized chemicals you’ll know it’s time to start to get to work eliminating this problem ASAP.

Use the inside information about to help you out and you (and your dogs) will be tear free in no time!