Managing Tear Stains in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis, and Prevention


Tear stains beneath a dog’s eyes are a common concern for pet owners seeking veterinary advice. While generally harmless, these stains, caused by excess tear production, can be aesthetically displeasing. In severe cases, they may lead to skin irritation, infections, and unpleasant odors. This guide provides insights into the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tear stains in dogs.

Causes of Tear Staining in Dogs

Normal Tearing in Dogs

Certain breeds possess shallow eye sockets, hindering the natural drainage of tears. Breeds like Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, and pugs are notable examples. Excess tears overflow the lower eyelids, leading to visible staining. This is a matter of anatomy and lacks a definitive cure.

Abnormal Tearing in Dogs

Irritation prompts increased tear production in dogs, similar to humans. This could signal a more serious issue, necessitating prompt veterinary attention. Symptoms include squinting, one eye being affected, eye rubbing, yellow discharge, or a reddened eye. Allergies can also contribute to eye irritation.

Diagnosing Tear Staining in Dogs

A thorough ophthalmologic examination, fluorescein staining of the cornea, and Schirmer tear testing may be required to pinpoint the cause of excessive tearing. Treatment will be tailored to the underlying issue.


For cases involving blocked nasolacrimal ducts, your dog may be put under general anesthesia for a procedure to remove the blockage. In instances of normal tear spillage due to anatomy, treatment options are limited. The administration of low-dose antibiotics is one approach, though it carries risks and is not recommended due to potential antibiotic resistance.

Prevention of Tear Staining

Maintaining good hygiene is crucial. Gently wipe the area beneath your dog’s eyes and face daily with a damp cloth to prevent the buildup of tears and debris. Applying a small amount of hydrogen peroxide may help bleach the stained hair. Keeping facial fur short is advisable to prevent entrapment of tears and debris. Additionally, a high-quality probiotic, such as Purina’s Forti Flora, recommended by your veterinarian, can aid in preventing tear staining.

By understanding the causes and implementing preventive measures, pet owners can effectively manage tear stains in their dogs, ensuring their comfort and well-being.

Written by wk68p

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