How to Remove Tear Stains From Your Dog (Naturally)
Tear staining is not life-threatening, but it is a huge problem for those owners who have to deal with it. My Maltese began to show some stains around his face when he was still a puppy, and I will point out some of the methods I used to make the problem a non-issue.
It is more common in some breeds than in others, but Maltese, a breed with large eyes and small tear ducts, are almost always affected. If you have a Bichon, a Poodle, or a Chihuahua, it may be a problem, too.
Are these methods going to work on your dog? It is impossible to say. If tear staining was a straightforward problem there would be an easy solution, something all dog owners could count on. There are a lot of solutions, just like there usually are when a problem does not have a good solution that consistently works.
What Are the Causes of Tear Stains on Your Dog's Face?
- Allergies: Tear stains may be caused by allergies. The allergies can be to food, which is why some dog owners swear changing your dog´s diet will eliminate this problem.
- Diet: Dogs may also be allergic or sensitive to the dyes in some cheap foods too so changing the diet makes a lot of sense. Changing the diet does work, sometimes.
- Water: Tear staining may be caused by water. If the water has a high mineral content it is more likely to cause stains. You can try demineralized water, and you can also train your dog to drink from a water bottle to decrease stains around his mouth.
- Teething: Tear stains may be caused by teething. Since this really is a temporary problem it will go away without any treatment.
- Blocked tear ducts: Tear staining can be caused by blocked or tiny tear ducts. If the tears are flowing out of the eye and on top of the face the hair stays wet and your dog may develop a yeast infection, making the staining even worse. The ducts will need to be surgically repaired.
- Dust or smoke: Tear stains can also be caused by a dusty or smoky environment. If your dog's eyes are always red and inflamed she is going to tear excessively. The solution? Stop whatever is contaminating your dog´s house.
How to Clean a Dog's Tear-Stained Face at Home
Some people will prefer to shave the face and remove the majority of tear buildup before starting the cleaning process.
To remove the stains, you can try several herbal products (like Pet Alive i-Clenz), regular saline, but I prefer cornstarch paste mixed with a little dilute hydrogen peroxide.
Mix a tablespoon of peroxide and a tablespoon of water with the cornstarch until it the consistency is thick and pasty. Apply the cornstarch just under your dog´s eyes, and let it dry before washing it out. You need to be careful to apply it just under the eyes, in the stained area, and never let it get to the sensitive skin inside the eye.
Peroxide can be irritating but much less so than bleach so I do never recommend you use that method.
What Are the Best Natural Methods to Control Tear Stains?
- To prevent most stains from coming back, you can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog´s water. If the tear staining is caused by cheap dyes in the dog food, blocked tear ducts, or teething, this method may not help.
- Some stains can be prevented by changing the diet to a more natural one. Even if you are still feeding your dog commercial food, make sure it is not contaminated with dyes, chemical flavor additives, and carbohydrates. Read the label.
- Start giving your dog filtered (not bottled!) water. This will help in some cases, especially if the water in your tap is hard.
- If there is excessive smoke in your house from a fireplace, take care of that problem. You and your dogs are going to have more serious health problems than tear staining if you do not fix it.
- If the condition does not clear up, have your dog examined by your regular vet. There is a chance that the problem is due to very small tear ducts.
Are you concerned about tear staining?
Cutting the hair around your dog´s eyes is a very temporary solution. Antibiotics may also help for a while, but unless you are using them to clear up an infection on your dog´s face I would not recommend them. Tear staining is ugly but it is not life threatening. If your dog is put on antibiotics long-term there are several serious side effects.
If nothing works, learn to accept your dog. She is not a perfect piece of furniture with which you can accessorize your living room; she is a living being with potential faults. Are you so perfect?
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
What can I use for stains around the dog's mouth?
If the stains are mild, you can use the same natural cures for tear stains. If the dog drools a lot, it is not going to do a lot of good since the stains will just come right back.Helpful 18
Is it okay to put apple cider vinegar into my Pomeranian´s distilled water? He gets urinary crystals and eats SO food.
I assume that you are monitoring your Poms urine pH since he is on SO. It should be less than 7. Apple cider vinegar will also do this, so with the SO it can become too acidic. Talk to your vet about getting some pH strips so that you can monitor the urine pH at home while starting this trial, or take a urine sample every week or so to check the pH.Helpful 15