Dog Tear Stains

Puppy having tear stains on its eyes

Visitor's Dog Tear Stains Question

  • Our Yorkie seems to have eye stain, and I do not know how to get it out of her fur safely. What tips do you suggest? She has two dark streaks between her eyes and her nose. We have just recently changed her water and food to help alleviate any allergies.


Expert Reply

Hello Cinderella,

Tear stains are a bit difficult to remove, and unless you are able to remedy the cause, they'll just come back. The actual staining is caused by bacteria and red yeast growth that thrive in the warm moist environment, giving the hair that reddish-brown stain and musty smell.

Some dogs have an inner set of a few lashes in the corner of their eyes that provide a constant irritant, causing excess tearing. Sometimes, it's the tear ducts themselves that are infected and causing the problem. A veterinarian can remedy both of these causes, so it's worth having your dog examined to determine the actual cause of the staining.

As for removing the stain, first, I recommend regular face washing. You can wash your dog's face several times a week without giving her a full bath, then blow the area dry on a cool to warm dryer setting. Just be very careful around her eyes. There are grooming shampoos available at many pet supply stores formulated to help reduce the stain. A company called 8 in 1 makes tear removal pads called Tear Clear that will also help clean the stains away, and are more convenient than full face washing.

Many groomers/handlers, myself included, will trim the hair away from the corner of the eyes to help eliminate the "stain trail"; however, using scissors around your dog's eyes can be dangerous, so don't hesitate to have a professional groomer perform this task for you.

Hope you find this advice helpful.


Dog Face Stains

I have a ten-year-old white female Lhasa Apso whose eyes have been tearing badly for the last six months. There are reddish-brown stains below her eyes, around her nose, face, and on her front paws.

Do you have any suggestions on what I might do to remove this or to stop the tearing? Could it be an allergic reaction to something?

~~Judy Anthony

Expert Reply

Hi Judy,

I used to show cream Lhasas, and a small amount of tear staining is normal. It's more noticeable because of the light hair color.

Dog face staining can be caused by many things, including:

  • Tears
  • Dog food, especially canned food
  • Allergies
  • Licking, especially on the paws
  • Yeast infections
  • Certain eye diseases/conditions

If you've definitely noticed an increase in the amount of your dog's tearing, I'd suggest having your vet take a look at her. Ten isn't exactly elderly for a Lhasa, but your pet may be developing some eye problems as she ages.

Although you should have your dog examined to find out the exact cause of the tearing, you can follow the same tips given to Cinderella to help lighten the stains.

Thanks~~ Kelly

Dog Tear Stains