Your Shih Tzu, Poodle, or Maltese is undoubtedly stinkin’ cute. But there is one more way to make it even prettier – dealing with those tear stains under their eyes.
Dog tear stains are common in many dog breeds, and it’s not a major cause for alarm. However, the unwanted color pigmentation may appear unsightly and indicate several underlying medical conditions for your lovely pup.
Luckily there are several natural ways to remove the tear stains, ranging from using apple cider vinegar, dealing with the root cause, trimming the hair, etc.
This post will detail what causes tear stains, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Feel free to jump ahead!
What are tear stains?
Also known as ‘eye stains’ or ‘tear marks,’ dog tear stains are the discoloration and residue left by your pup’s naturally occurring eye discharge. You’ll often notice these stains on white breeds of dogs, including Maltese, Bichon Frise, and Shih Tzus.
You may also notice the problem with dog breeds prone to weepy eyes (epiphora), such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers. Epiphora isn’t a disease but rather a symptom stemming from several causes.
The stains appear as dark black, rusty-red, or brown discoloration under one or both eyes. The color pigmentation is often accompanied by eye discharge, but not always.
Dog stains can be a cosmetic problem or an indication of more severe conditions, like a corneal ulcer, glaucoma, or yeast infection. Whatever the cause, however, the problem can be dealt with naturally.
What causes dog tear stains?
Tear stains occur when your dog’s tear duct system doesn’t drain properly. Instead of draining tears from the eye’s surface to the nose, the tears flow over the eyelid margin to the dog’s face.
The stains that cause the discoloration of the fur underneath your pup’s eyes are due to porphyrins – a molecule secreted in tears.
Here are some factors that cause tear stains on dogs:
Dog breed and color:
Although you’ll often notice tear stains on light-colored or white dogs, the problem can occur in any dog, regardless of its color or breed. However, the problem is more common in some dog breeds, including Shih Tzus and Maltese.
Dust or smoke:
A smoky or dusty environment may also contribute to the tears in your dog’s eyes. This will lead to stains if the environment remains unchanged for a long time.
Eye infections may lead to excessive tear production and weeping of the pup’s eyes. Increased moisture may, in turn, cause tear stains and yeast or bacterial infections.
See a veterinary ophthalmologist if you notice a discoloration in the tear stains or other symptoms of eye infection, like itching and redness. It could indicate major health problems.
Glaucoma is a condition caused by increased intraocular pressure, which may lead to increased tear production in puppies. The tears may lead to discoloration and tear stains in the affected dogs.
Abrasion to the eye:
Corneal ulcer – a condition where the eye’s protective outer layer is traumatized – contributes to dog’s tear stains. They’re often caused by injuries resulting from the introduction of a foreign object to a pet’s eye.
Brachycephalic breeds are more prone to these injuries as their eye tend to bulge. If your dog has a corneal injury, you’ll notice an active discharge from the eyes and small amounts of tear stains.
Abnormal or ingrown eyelashes can rub the eye’s surface, leading to excessive tears and irritation. Entropion – a medical term for a condition where your pup’s eyelids fold inwards – may also cause irritation and tearing.
Also, dog breeds with shallow eye sockets are more likely to shed tears often than others. This means that they’ll likely have tear stains more than other dogs.
How do I remove dog tear stains naturally?
After knowing what causes the tear stains on your pup, cleaning them will become easier. Here are several natural solutions to help you get rid of the tear stains:
Method #1: Deep cleanse
The first and the best way to remove the tear stains from your dog’s eyes is to clean them well. Use clean water to rub the eye stains.
If the tap water doesn’t help, your dog can benefit from a doggie bathing station or spa for a professional deep cleaning. It will help remove the stubborn spots and stains.
Note: Use warm water to make the bath friendly for your pup.
Method #2: Apple Cider Vinegar/White Vinegar
Some experts recommend altering the dog’s pH, arguing that it controls the production of tears and, thus, the eye stains. Add one teaspoon of distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to about 1 gallon of your dog’s drinking water to use this method.
This will increase the alkalinity of your dog’s body, preventing tear stains. It will also help prevent bacteria or yeast infections from reoccurring.
Other food additives that may also be used in the place of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar are buttermilk powder, coconut oil, or I-Stain (a probiotic enzyme.)
Method #3: Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is very effective in removing dog stains. To remove the tear stains;
- Mix one part of hydrogen peroxide with ten parts of water
- Soak a cotton ball or pad in water-diluted hydrogen peroxide
- Then, use it to clean the tear-stained area
- Use warm water to wipe out the peroxide solution
Warning: Hydrogen peroxide is dangerous and shouldn’t get into your dog’s eyes or mouth – it can lead to blindness. Also, too much peroxide may bleach your dog’s fur, which is noticeable for dark brown or black dogs.
Method #4: Milk of Magnesia
You can use milk of Magnesia to remove dog tears and stains from your pup effectively. Add equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and Magnesia, and then add cornstarch to form a paste.
Then rub the paste into the stained area and leave it for about four hours before thoroughly washing it out. You may use a ‘cone of shame’ to prevent your dog from rubbing it off with its paws.
Method #5: Trim Facial Hair
Certain breeds of dogs, like toy dogs and other small breeds, are prone to tear staining because of how they’re built. For instance, Terriers have long hair around their eyes and mouths, which can irritate their eyes and create excessive tearing if not properly groomed.
To control the tear stains, you should trim the facial hair using a guard clipper. You may also take your pup to a professional groomer (recommended).
Note: Do not use scissors as that can lead to too many accidents.
Method #6: Develop a daily care routine
If you observe a daily care routine by wiping the debris and gunk from your dog’s eyes, you can remove the tear stains forever. Below is an ideal regimen for dogs that have a tear stains problem:
- Flush eyes using an appropriate canine eye-wash, such as a saline solution, on a daily basis.
- Use a pet-safe wipe and a clean cloth to clean the gunk from the corners of your dog’s eyes, wiping the fur surrounding the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Use the peroxide solution to clean the stains
- Use an eyewash wipe to rub around and underneath the eye area. Mix one tablespoon of boric acid boiled in one cup of distilled water
- Develop a regular grooming routine
Method #7: Examine the quality of your food
I know it has been considered a common misconception, but a poor diet can actually be why your dog has brown stains around its eyes. The dog’s food used as fillers in inferior-quality foods can cause allergic reactions, resulting in excess tears and other health issues.
Important: Check with your pet supply store for herbal and all-natural best dog tear stain removers. Be careful when washing your dog with these natural tear stain removers, as they may be harmful to the eyes and mouth.
How do I prevent dog tear stains?
If you’ve tried to remove the tear stains on light-colored dogs, you can agree that the stains are seriously stubborn. Cleaning the stained area and wiping the excessive amounts of the tear will be futile if you’re not addressing the root cause.
So, focus on the following prevention measures:
- Normalize regular grooming
- Normalize regular cleaning
- Protect your dog against debris and allergies
- Consider your dog’s diet
These measures will improve your dog’s health and prevent tear stains.
The bottom line
Dog tear stains are not life-threatening, but they are among the biggest pet peeves for the dog owners that have to deal with them. Luckily, the brown stains and dark marks around your dog’s eyes can be removed using natural products.
This post provides you with a detailed description of the dog tear stains, including what they are, what causes them, how to remove them, and how to prevent them. Good luck as you purpose to use it to keep your dog cute.