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How to Prevent Red Tear Stains on a White or Light-Colored Dog

Maria is a master of public health, and a master gardener. She & husband Bo, known online as The Gardener & The Cook are in coastal Alabama.

Our sweet little C.C. Her full name was Mademoiselle Coco Chanel, but that was quite a mouthful, so she used her initials, C.C.

Our sweet little C.C. Her full name was Mademoiselle Coco Chanel, but that was quite a mouthful, so she used her initials, C.C.

Unfortunately, Those Red Tear Stains Don't Simply Wash Off

Everyone has seen little white and blonde dogs with the unsightly red tear stains around their eyes, mouths, and even on their feet caused by their licking, uh, I mean washing those feet.

The photo below is one I took of my former neighbor's dog while his mom was holding him. His name is Perry. He is a rescue dog, so his complete genetic history is unknown, but he is mostly Bichon Frise. He is a real sweetheart, but just like our dog, C.C. did, Perry preferred people over other dogs.

As you can see, he had the same red tear stains that C.C. had in the past. Another neighbor's dog had very dark red stains on his feet where he has licked them. Perry's mom planned to start him on Angels' Eyes, but they moved away, so I haven't seen him in quite a while.

Perry is a rescued Bichon dog who belongs to a former neighbor. His full name is Perry White, but most folks just call him Perry. Here he is being held bye his "mom".

Perry is a rescued Bichon dog who belongs to a former neighbor. His full name is Perry White, but most folks just call him Perry. Here he is being held bye his "mom".

Important Update: Use Filtered Water

Unfortunately, the formula has been changed, and this product does not work as well as it once did. Our groomer advised us to use filtered water for our new Maltese puppy, Max, and to be sure to keep his ears clean to prevent infection. It seems ear infections can contribute to the red staining.

We mentioned this to our vet, and she confirmed what the groomer said. She further said it was the antibiotic, tetracycline, that the FDA ordered to be removed from this product. I have to agree, keeping a pet, or anyone for that matter, on a constant diet of antibiotics is not a good idea.

It Was the Best Kept Secret Around at One Time

You may have read about our little Maltese dog, C.C., in another article I wrote here on HubPages entitled, "Living With and Caring for a Maltese Dog". She had the beginnings of these same types of stains when we first got her. At that time, she weighed 1.3 pounds and had light red tear stains under her eyes, as well as all around her mouth from her saliva. After using Angels' Eyes, she looked like a little snowball.

Everywhere we took her, people would comment on her beautiful face. So many people asked me how we kept her face so clean, and how to remove red tear stains on a white dog, that I decided to share what I learned.

It seems to be the best-kept secret around. I tried not letting C.C. eat red dog biscuits. That didn't help. I tried the liquid tear-stain removers. Again, no luck. I even tried putting a mixture of peroxide and Milk of Magnesia that I read about somewhere, on her stained hair. No luck there, either. Then, one day, I wandered into a new pet supply store that had opened near our neighborhood. That was the day the tear stains began to go away.

First, Be Careful Where You Buy Pet Products

A couple of years ago, I bought Angels' Eyes online, and after using it a few weeks, the red tear stains returned on our little Maltese. I ordered again from another vendor, and soon the stains were gone again. Remember, though, the stained hair must grow out and be cut off. Angels' Eyes is a preventer, not a remover.

I've had comments from two people about this product not working for them. All I can say is to be careful where you purchase this and all pet supplies, especially those your pet will take internally.

Our sweet little Maltese, C.C. Sadly, we lost C.C. in September 2017. She was almost 13. We were heartbroken for a long time, but we had to let her go, as she was in a lot of pain.

Our sweet little Maltese, C.C. Sadly, we lost C.C. in September 2017. She was almost 13. We were heartbroken for a long time, but we had to let her go, as she was in a lot of pain.

He Showed Me a Product Called Angels' Eyes

The owner of a small independent pet store had the answer I had been searching for. He showed me a product called "Angels' Eyes". It worked wonders, and this photo is of C.C. after taking Angels' Eyes for a few weeks. That store has since closed. After the store closed, I bought it at one of the big box pet stores for a while. Then they stopped carrying it. The other big pet store said they had never heard of Angels' Eyes. I couldn't find this product anywhere except on Amazon.

Angels' Eyes is a food supplement available in several flavors — C.C. preferred the chicken flavor. The label states that it is made of freeze-dried chicken livers. That is the only ingredient listed. It stops tear stains from forming. As long as we added it to her food at least once per week she had no red tear stains at all. It's not cheap, but is well worth the cost. She still got the dried mucus just below the inside corner of her eyes, as all dogs do, but that washed off easily.

If your pet has red tear stains, you will need to put Angels' Eyes in his/her food every day for a couple of weeks, then no less than once per week from then on. The independent store owner told me to give her about 3/4 teaspoon each time. Once, when I forgot to order it, the staining returned after about 2 weeks. I didn't forget anymore.

Even Angels' Eyes Doesn't Exactly Remove the Stains

After your dog begins having Angels' Eyes mixed into his/her food, the dog's body will stop producing the red tears that stain the hair. Angels' Eyes will not remove the red stain from hair that is already stained. The stained hair must be allowed to grow out, and then be cut off. I used to go ahead and cut off as much of it as I could, then there was less stained hair during the growing out time.

This was not much of a problem with our dog, C.C., because her hair grows as fast as mine does. So it wasn't long at all until all the stained hair was gone. Just look at her now!

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

Question: Tear stains are like your golf swing. If you grip the club wrong, you need to change a ton to make the ball go straight. I found by simply changing from dog foods loaded with fillers, I went to limited diet blend and tear stains 100% gone! Why give angel eyes which has antibiotic in it?

Answer: The active ingredient is freeze-dried chicken liver. The other ingredients are a proprietary blend of cranberry powder, Oregon grape root, and marshmallow root. There are no antibiotics.

Question: I used Angels' Eyes for my Maltese for a while, and it worked pretty well but took her off because I found out it has an antibiotic in it that isn't good for dogs. Is it true?

Answer: It's true that chronic use of antibiotics is a bad thing to do. According to the label, there are no antibiotics in Angels' Eyes. Always read the label.

Question: I heard that the ingredient that removes the red tear stains on dogs was removed. My vet said it was an antibiotic and harmful and now it doesn’t perform well. I just started using Petpost liquid and it seems to be making the stains worse. Please advise?

Answer: I do know they changed the formula to make it safer. At first, I thought it had compromised the efficacy of the product, but safety is more important. I continued using the new version as long as we had C.C., and it seemed to work just fine.

Question: Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

Answer: After dogs have grown past the puppy stage, they usually have bad breath. Some foods make it worse. This sounds like a good question for your local vet.

Question: Does Angels Eyes have an antibiotic in it?

Answer: No, not according to the label. The main ingredient is freeze-dried chicken liver.

Question: Our six-month-old Maltese was fine until a few weeks ago, and then he started to have really bad stains after I cleaned his eyes and trimmed the hair around the eyes. I don't know what I did. I am now using Angel Eyes and am wondering if he had a yeast infection caused by me. Do you have any ideas? He also started teething around that time. Our other Maltese was fine with the teething and had no stains.

Answer: I honestly don't know what could have caused the stains to appear so suddenly. Our little C.C. was a few months old before she began having them, but I don't remember exactly how old she was. It could have been a coincidence that the stains appeared after you trimmed the hair around the eyes.

Question: How much is the red tear preventing product Angels' Eyes and where did you purchase it?

Answer: There are links to Amazon on the page where you read my article. Click on my ad for Angel's Eyes, and it will take you directly to that product on Amazon's website. From there you can browse all their products, and see the prices.

© 2011 MariaMontgomery

Does Your Dog Have Red Tear Stains? - Please Sign My Guestbook

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on February 25, 2020:

You're very welcome. Thanks so much for reading my article. At risk of telling you something you already know, be sure to discard the 25-year-old Angels' Eyes, and buy some new. The old one may simply have lost its strength, or worse, some of the ingredients may have become rank.

Mamie Erickson on February 23, 2020:

Yes, my 8 month old Bichon Frise, Sophie, has tear stains and also around her month; she spit up yesterday and now the stain is worse, and there is also an odor about her mouth she didn't have until yesterday. I plan to purchase some Angel Eyes. I have some left over from 25 years ago when I had a white poodle, but haven't used it on my last Bichon (who was 14.5 when I had to have her put down) nor my 8-month old bichon now. The groomer can cut some of it off each time, but t always stains again. Thanks for the recommendation.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on January 26, 2020:

I tried everything else I could think of, and everything I read. Angel's Eyes is the only thing that worked for our dog. We gave it to her every day for the first 2 weeks, then once or twice per week after that. I'm truly sorry, but that's all I know to tell you. Thank you for reading my article.

Barry Busch on January 26, 2020:

My Bichon Frise puppy has terrible tear staining. We have been using Angel’s Eyes for about 3 months with no results. We only give her distilled water and have her on a very expensive, natural food diet. Is there anything else to try?

Johnnie Chesser on February 06, 2019:

Have not tried yet. Tried many other not working products. Do going to give it a try. Good fur sound eyes grows straifht up ib front of his eyes, difficult tiki groom. Ask i really good this works!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on March 07, 2018:

I tried that, but it didn't work on my dog. Glad it worked for you.

Mia on February 26, 2018:

My puppy is a Maltese and has

LIGHT tear stains. I clean the corner of his eyes with warm water. We then comb out the beard. I then use hydrogen peroxide on the stains which whitens the stains.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on December 17, 2017:

I order it from Amazon. There is an Amazon link for the product in this article. Thanks for reading my article.

Scooter, the maltpoo on December 16, 2017:

Yes, he does have the tear stains. I have never tried the Angel eyes. Where do you buy it?

Judith Kay Hicks on November 15, 2017:

One and one-half year Maltipoo with bad staining. Buying filtered water, giving grain free food, Angel Eyes Natural (1/4 tsp. once a day) for 1 1/2 months, wipe eyes w/warm washcloth twice a day and dry each time. All of this still with no results. Doctor says eyes are clear and good. Don't know what else to try, except have started to snip off the bad hairs.

Elizabeth on June 01, 2017:

I found little mites burrowing in my dogs eye lids. I filled a glass of water and put 3 to 4 drops tea tree oil in, mixing it and dipped in a q-tip wet it with the mixture dabbing it on my dogs eye lids. I did not let any escape into the eyes as the q-tip was not dripping wet. No more red tears!!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on April 05, 2017:

Our Malteses is a little over 12 years old, and we have been using it almost that long. She has no red staining at all. Once, I did get what must have been back Angels' Eyes that I ordered online, because the red stains came back. I got a new one, and we've had no stains since then. You may want to consider a different vendor. That's what I did.

Angie on April 03, 2017:

I used Angel Eyes for over 10 years for my dog. It worked wonders. All of a sudden the stains starting returning, and I discoverd Angel Eyes removed the antibiotic that stops the staining. It no longer works.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on May 24, 2016:

That's good information to have. Thank you. Until my most recent purchase of Angels Eyes, I had not noticed any difference. Now, I do see a slight yellowish tinge on C.C.'s feet and beard. Still no stains around her eyes, though. Thank goodness.

Gigi on April 20, 2016:

I used Angel Eyes, with great success, a few years ago on my beautiful bichon. Then the FDA made Angel Eyes discontinue the product because it contained an antibiotic. The antibiotic is what stops the tear stains, and my vet said it was perfectly safe. Now they have a "natural" product that does not get good reviews at all, so I am hesitant to try it.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on November 20, 2014:

Yeah, we kind of like her. Truth be told, she is the princess around here. She even has her own tiny tiara, but she won't keep it on. Thank you so much for sharing this hub. I truly appreciate it.

Ruth Cox on November 19, 2014:

I have no need for the tear stain remedy but I will for sure pass your info on to those who may have need of a solution for their dogs. C.C. is adorable, as I'm sure you already know!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on May 23, 2014:

@Lynda Makara: They really are unsightly. C.C. says thank you for your compliment on her clean white coat. Actually, she needs a bath today... Thank you for the squidlike and for your nice comment.

Lynda Makara from California on May 18, 2014:

Wow, that's fantastic! Those red stains are unsightly and your little dog looks so beautiful with snowy white fur.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on April 07, 2014:

@Im2keys: You will love it. Thanks for the squidlike and for your comment.

Im2keys on April 06, 2014:

This is very good to know, we may need this product in the near future!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on April 02, 2014:

@RaidaMoon: I do hope she tries Angel's Eyes. I'm sure she will like it. Thanks so much for your comment and squidlike.

RaidaMoon on April 01, 2014:

This is wonderful information, Mia-Mia, and a really well-put-together lens!

This isn't something my big beast of a pooch has trouble with but my Mother-In-Law has this problem with her shih tzu's. They're adorable but those tear stains really detract from their sweet faces at times.

I'm so glad to hear that there's something that works. I'll be sure to send her the link to your page.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on March 18, 2014:

@OhMe: You're very welcome. Please get some for Bruno. He will thank you forever. Thanks for the squidlike, and for your comment. See you around Squidoo.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on March 18, 2014:

Thanks for this information. We have never tried Angel's Eyes and our Bruno could use some help with tear stains.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on March 15, 2014:

@Brite-Ideas: Thanks for visiting, and for the squidlike on this lens. I hope this product works as well on your dog as it has on mine.

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on March 13, 2014:

well, love Squidoo, I always learn something - I'm going to give this product a try - our white/grey dog has this problem, thank you!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 13, 2013:

@darkflowers: I do believe it would work for a blond dog, too. If you try it, let me know how it works for you. Thank you for the squidlike and for your comment.

Anja Toetenel from The Hague, the Netherlands on September 12, 2013:

I had never heard of this product before. One of my dogs isn't white, but she's blond so that's pretty close don't you think ;-) and she does have these tear stains. Not too bad, but it doesn't look nice. So I'll have a look and maybe give it a try! Thank you for the information!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on July 10, 2013:

@TanoCalvenoa: Those little Maltipoos are the cutest dogs. I know you enjoy her. You will like the results you get from Angels' Eyes. Thank you for the thumbs up on this lens, and for your comment. See you around Squidoo.

TanoCalvenoa on July 05, 2013:

Neat lens. I have a little 7 lb female Maltese/Poodle mix with major red staining around her eyes and face. I'll be looking into this product you're recommending. Thank you!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on March 27, 2013:

@squidoopets: She does have one of those little doggie faces that steal hearts. Thank you for the nice comment, and for the squidlike.

Darcie French from Abbotsford, BC on March 23, 2013:

I am in love with your little white doggy and her beautiful snowy face!

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on January 22, 2013:

@norma-holt: Thank you so much for the angel blessing on this lens. It's one of my favorites. I'll bet your cats have beautiful eyes.

norma-holt on January 20, 2013:

Nice heads up on this product. My cats have mostly dark eyes so they don't get staining but one of them does shed a lot of tears. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2013 and also on Pet's Health

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on November 05, 2012:

@anonymous: Glad to be of help. Thanks for the squidlike on this lens and for voting in my polls.

anonymous on November 04, 2012:

Thanks a lot for this info. Even though my dog is black and white, he sometimes have that situation in the light areas of his face. Thanks for helping me to understand that.

johnsja on October 20, 2012:

I never knew about red tear stains. Fascinating.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on July 30, 2012:

@YogaAngel: The Angels' Eyes works wonders. If the staining is bad, it will take a while for the stained hair to grow out, but any new hair will be snow white. So it will look a bit like a woman who needs to "have her roots done" when bleached or dyed hair grows out. You can just cut off some of the stained hair, though. I tried the chicken flavor this time, & C.C. loves it on canned food -- not so much on dry food. I hope your little puppies like it, too.

YogaAngel on July 30, 2012:

Thanks mia mia, I have two maltese puppies. One has bad tear stains one doesn't. I was wondering if this worked, because everything else doesn't!

AustriaChick on June 09, 2012:

I have a Maltese and we installed a reverse osmosis water system under the kitchen sink. Great water for humans and our little "Houdini" no longer has tear stains. The vet said that the stains were caused by the tap water.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on June 07, 2012:

@joannalynn lm: As far as I know, these stains show up only on white or very blonde dogs. I'm not sure what causes them. No need to feel brainless. I'd never noticed them either until we got a white dog.

joannalynn lm on June 05, 2012:

I couldn't figure out what red tear stains are at first, so I had to read the lens! Sometimes I am so dense. I was thinking, what did C.C. get into. My dog-girl is a rat terrier and she doesn't have them, and we've never had a dog with tear stains. I connected before I read the lens, thank goodness. I didn't have to feel totally brainless.