Combating Dog Tear Stains: Six Ways to Stay Clean

Excessive tearing, clinically referred to as epiphora, causes tear stains on dogs’ fur. This unsightly problem can be frustrating for pet parents. Dogs’ tears carry the compound, porphyrin, which contains iron. When tears dry, iron leaves behind red stains on fur. A range of medical conditions and genetic features cause excessive tearing and/or hinder proper tear drainage. These conditions include:

  • Ingrown eyelashes
  • Overgrown fur irritating the eyes
  • Eye infections
  • Glaucoma
  • Inverted eyelid
  • Brachycephalic syndrome (dogs with short snouts)

Difficult to resolve completely, this common condition can be managed with some simple steps.

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Six Ways to Manage Your Dog’s Tear Stains

  1. Treat Illness – Since excessive tearing can indicate underlying conditions, such as canine glaucoma or infection, a visit to the veterinarian should be the first step.
  2. Clean Fur – To prevent staining, keep your pup’s face clean by using a damp cloth at least twice daily on fur and scheduling regular appointments for professional grooming.
  3. Replace Plastic – Plastic bowls foster bacterial growth more readily than porcelain, glass or stainless steel. Bacteria irritates the face, increasing tear production.
  4. Filtered Water – If your tap water is high in iron, then use filtered water to hinder porphyrin production.
  5. Solutions – Try a contact lens solution containing mild boric acid or liquid vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Acids break apart porphyrin compounds in fur, eliminating reddish discoloration. Be careful not to get these acidic compounds in your dog’s eyes, which will cause further eye irritation and more tears.
  6. Diet Adjustments – A clean diet with the possible introduction of probiotics, botanicals (milk thistle or dandelion) and coconut oil all might encourage your pup’s body to eliminate excess iron in bowel movements, rather than in tears. These natural solutions can be effective, but should not be used without first consulting a veterinarian; nutraceuticals can have unpleasant side effects, interact with other medications and they are not subject to stringent safety regulations or scientific testing.

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Talk with Our Veterinarian about Tear Staining in Dogs

Proper grooming and maintenance will usually be enough to effectively combat your dog’s tear stains. If stains are an issue, however, we strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment with a Pet Health veterinarian to rule out any underlying health problems.


– Missie A.

Pet Health Hospital is a life saver. My poor cat was attacked by another cat and developed a terrible abscess on her little head. Dr. Pizzillo was the attending veterinarian who treated my BabyGir!!. She was able to get the situation under control before it became more serious. Dr. Pizzillo is compassionate and caring. She has a very calming way about her and put my worries at ease. The entire staff is very professional and welcoming. I am going to recommend Pet Health Hospital to anyone needing an excellent veterinarian. Thank you to all of you!!!!

– Jennifer C.

Pet Health has been a wonderful health care service for our baby – Gracie.  She has a very serious health issue arise – and Dr. Lewis texted on a regular basis to check on her, to see how things were progressing and to see if we needed any help.   I am very grateful for their genuine love and concern for our dog.  thank you!

– Mee F.

Love this vet! Clean and high tech! The entire staff was friendly and so loving to my dog! First time here and I have already recommended this place to all my friends! The vet even followed up with us as she said she would on the urine test.

– Adrian W.

Great place. We’ve been to many vets throughout our dogs 7 years life span. This is the best place we’ve been to so far. Dr. Renee Lewis has a great presence and our dog was surprisingly extremely calm around her (he like every other dog, don’t like vets..).

This clinic is not very pushy wanting to do ‘extra’ work to create a larger bill. 

Dr. Lewis also showed that she really cared and took her time to get to know our dog, and explaining everything after the surgery. 

I’m done with Veterinaries that only cares about profit and rush through the consultation because they’re overbooked!

The staff here are also very friendly and helpful. They made us feel welcome!

I highly recommend this place!


– Sarah W.

Pet Health Animal Hospital is simply amazing. We found Dr. B and his team shortly after adopting our first dog. Being new to the area, we were concerned with finding the right vet that cared about our dog as much as we did. Lucky enough, we walked right into the perfect vet. From overnight stays to surgeries, Dr B and his team make us feel so comfortable, put any concern at ease, and are masters of communication. There is never a question left unanswered, or an update left undelivered. The whole team knows our dogs when we walk in, and our dogs are always excited and sprinting to get into the vet to see them. I tell people all the time that my favorite part of living in Las Vegas is Pet Health Animal Hospital!

– Andrew G.

The doctors and assistants do an amazing job here. I wasn’t sure what to do with my Sasha so I brought her in fearing the worst. Dr. Jessica Pizzillo was simply the best. She was able to remove the growth the same day and at a fraction of the cost of other estimates I had received, all while putting my Sasha through the least amount of trauma possible.

The front desk staff was also very kind and understanding when it comes to stressful situations like this. Stephanie and the rest of the staff made me feel comfortable and were very professional.

– Scott H.

Absolutely incredible vet! The level of service and attention is the best I’ve ever experienced anywhere.