Understanding and Preventing Dog Tear Stains

Understanding and Preventing Dog Tear Stains

  • Jun 13, 2024
  • By Michelle fall
  • 0 Comment

Have you ever found yourself wondering, "Why does my dog suddenly have tear stains?" It's a common concern, particularly for pet parents of dogs with white or light-colored fur. While tear stains are often harmless and a natural result of tear production, excessive staining can signal underlying issues. Let's delve deeper into the causes of dog tear stains and explore effective ways to prevent them.

What Causes Dog Tear Stains?

A multitude of factors can contribute to tear stains in dogs. However, the primary culprit behind these stains is a pigment called porphyrin, found in tears. When tears evaporate, porphyrin residue remains, taking on a reddish, brownish, or rust-colored hue upon exposure to oxygen over time. Hence, porphyrin is responsible for those telltale tear stains often seen in dogs with white or light fur, especially if they have long hair around their eyes. While these stains are usually harmless, excessive staining or accompanying symptoms may indicate a more significant issue.

Epiphora in Dogs

If your dog exhibits deep or excessive tear staining, or if the stains are accompanied by discharge, the problem may stem from excess tear production or epiphora. Epiphora occurs when the eyes produce an abundance of tears due to irritation or impaired tear drainage. This condition can be acute or chronic and may result from various factors, including:

  • Shallow eye sockets, particularly common in brachycephalic (short-snouted) breeds, can hinder proper tear drainage.
  • Ear infections, which can lead to increased tear production in the affected eye,.
  • Genetic factors, such as small tear duct openings or large tear glands, disrupt tear drainage.
  • Scarring from past eye injuries or infections, impeding tear flow.
  • Allergies, whether seasonal, food-related, or triggered by household irritants.
  • Glaucoma causes fluid buildup in the eye and subsequent excess tear production.
  • Conjunctivitis and eye infections, leading to inflammation and increased tear production.
  • Irritants like smoke, dust, or allergens prompt the eyes to produce more tears.
  • Ingrown eyelashes are particularly prevalent in certain breeds and are often genetic.

Are tear stains harmful to dogs?

In most cases, light tear staining in dogs with white or light-colored fur is nothing to fret over. Tear production is a vital function of healthy eyes, and mild staining is a natural byproduct of this process. However, sudden or excessive tear staining, especially when coupled with other signs of discomfort or infection, warrants attention. If you're concerned about your dog's tear stains, consulting a veterinarian is advisable to rule out any underlying issues.

Can dog food influence tear stains?

An inflammatory diet and lifestyle can exacerbate tear stains in dogs. Foods high in carbohydrates, grains, and certain additives or preservatives may contribute to inflammation, worsening tear staining. While eliminating these ingredients from your dog's diet may not guarantee a reduction in tear stains, it can promote overall health and well-being. Transitioning to a raw, nutrient-rich diet with fewer inflammatory components is worth considering for your furry companion's long-term health.

Best Practices for Managing Dog Tear Stains

While it may be challenging to completely eliminate tear stains, especially in dogs with white or light fur, several strategies can help manage and minimize them:

  • Identify the root cause: Determine the underlying cause of excess tear production or drainage issues, with allergies being a common culprit..
  • Trim Fur Around the Eyes: Regularly trim the hair around your dog's eyes to reduce staining and maintain cleanliness.
  • Frequent Tear Wiping: Use a soft towel or handkerchief to gently wipe your dog's tears throughout the day, helping to prevent excessive staining.
  • Seek Veterinary Guidance: If tear staining persists despite your efforts, consult a veterinarian for a thorough evaluation and tailored treatment plan.


To help prevent tear stains for my own dog, I have used a zero water filter for many years now to filter his drinking water from the tap. This is an effective and really simple way to remove

  • Chemicals and Heavy Metals: ZeroWater filters effectively remove chlorine, lead, mercury, and other harmful chemicals and heavy metals from tap water. This ensures that your dog is not ingesting these toxic substances, which can lead to serious health issues over time.
  • Pesticides and Herbicides: These filters also reduce the presence of agricultural chemicals that may find their way into the water supply, protecting your dog from potential toxic exposure.
  • Reduced Toxins: The liver and kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins from the body. Providing water that is free from harmful substances reduces the workload on these vital organs, promoting better overall health and function.
  • Yeast love heavy metals, so removing them from your dog's drinking water may be all you need to do to help prevent tear stains from returning. 


    By understanding the factors contributing to tear stains and implementing proactive measures, you can help keep your dog's eyes healthy and tear-free. Remember, a little extra care and attention go a long way in ensuring your furry friend's well-being and happiness.