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3 min read

How to Prevent Dog Tear Stains


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If you’ve ever had a white or light-colored dog, you know the endless struggle that is trying to keep them neat and clean in appearance. Every bit of dust, puddle of mud or speck of food or debris seems to end up glaringly positioned and highlighted in their bright colored fur. While this doesn’t impact your enjoyment of doggie/human quality time, it is an annoying nuisance. What concerned pet owners should also know is that, in some cases, these stains can also be indications of underlying health problems.

Tear stains will often mar the coats of light colored dogs, but are also indicative of excess moisture in the eye region of your canine. Moisture will react with ever present bacteria, dirt and dust, creating rust colored streaks under your dog’s eyes. Prevention of these “tear stains” will not only keep your dog’s appearance top notch, it can also help alleviate any discomfort and allow for a healthier, happier canine companion.

Causes and Prevention of Tear Stains

Excess moisture around the eyes is generally caused by an irritant or immune reaction. The underlying reason for these reactions can be numerous, but in many cases, entirely preventable. Common causes include:

Food or Environmental Allergies

Much like in people, when your dog has an allergy to a particular food or environmental contaminant, their bodies will produce an inappropriate immune reaction in an attempt to eliminate the chemicals from their system. This manifests in excessive eye watering. The moisture from the eyes pools in the corner tear duct area and continuously rolls down your dog’s face, causing tear stains.

To help prevent tear stains caused by food or other allergies, you should consider eliminating common allergy causing ingredients from your dog’s diet. Corn, wheat, chicken and low-quality grains such as brewers or other yeast, are common causes of food allergies for pets. For environmental concerns, owners should speak with their vets regarding seasonal allergy medications especially for their canine companions.

Poor Quality Water

Tear stains around the eyes or mouth can often occur when dogs consume poor quality water that contains excess mineral or other buildups. If you fill your dog’s outdoors water bucket from the backyard faucet, ensure that your outdoors water is fully potable. Tear stains can also be an indication that your water source is inappropriate for canine and human consumption. Consider testing your household water for heavy metals and other contaminants and invest in a whole house filtration system to help prevent dog tear stains and promote overall health for all human and canine residents.

Improper Grooming and Hygiene

Whether your dog has light colored fur or dark, daily grooming and hygiene is an important aspect of responsible pet ownership. Brushing, washing and paying attention to stains, dirt or debris are all daily tasks that owners should undertake to keep their pets happy and healthy. A damp washcloth applied to the corners of eyes or regular wiping of excess moisture are often vital tasks to preventing tear stains on your dog and eliminates excess moisture.

Undiagnosed Excess Moisture

Sometimes your dog may experience excess moisture in their eyes, leading to tear stains for some undiagnosed, non-life-threatening reasons. From large tear ducts to improper eyelash placement, there may be numerous additional causes for dog tear stains. Following up with your vet can help diagnose the condition, in addition to helping owners to identify potential treatment and prevention methods. When unable to identify an underlying cause, owners may consider a vigilant cleaning and grooming routine as the most effective preventative measure.

Importance and Effects of Prevention

Prevention of dog eye tear stains not only keeps your dog looking good, it can improve their overall health as well. Excess tearing in the eye area is a severe irritant and reducing stains should be a pet owners number one priority.


Whether allergies from diet or the environment, poor grooming habits or other cause of excessive moisture, dog tear stains are an issue that is more than fur deep. Considerate pet owners know that their dog’s physical appearance is a main indication of their overall health and quality of life. Buildup of dog tear stains can lead to an increase of yeast or other contaminants in the area which can cause infection, irritation or more. If you are uncertain about the cause or preventive measures to be taken for your dog’s tear stains, consult your veterinarian who can help develop a plan of action.

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© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.