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Dog Tear Stains

Tear stains can be a common concern for dog owners, especially those with light-colored puppies. In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons behind tear stains and discuss how to address them. While it’s normal for young puppies to have tear stains as their eyes develop, persistent staining in older dogs can be a sign of an underlying issue known as Epiphora.

Table of Contents

What Causes Tear Stains in Dogs?

Tear stains in dogs can result from various factors. Understanding these reasons is crucial for addressing this common issue effectively. Here are some common causes of tear stains in dogs:

  • Excess Tears: They produce more tears to flush irritants from their eyes.
  • Blocked Drainage: Tear drainage pathways can get blocked, causing tears to accumulate.
  • Skin Irritation: Moisture around the eyes irritates the skin, promoting bacterial growth.
  • Pigment Accumulation: Tears contain a pigment that stains fur over time.
  • Eye Conditions: Issues like conjunctivitis can lead to excessive tearing.
  • Breed Predisposition: Some breeds are more prone to tear stains due to their anatomy.

Why Do Puppies Have Tear Stains?

Many puppies, particularly those with light-colored fur, often have tear stains. This is usually a sign of healthy eyes doing their job. In young puppies, tear stains are normal and typically resolve as the puppy grows.

When Tear Stains Persist

If your dog is over 5 months old and still experiences tear staining and constant wetness around the eyes, it’s time to investigate further.

Identifying Underlying Causes

When dealing with tear stains in your dog, it’s crucial to pinpoint the underlying causes to effectively address the issue. A veterinary consultation is the first step in this process. During the examination, your veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist will carefully inspect your dog’s eyes to rule out the presence of foreign bodies. 

They will also assess for conditions like distichiasis or ectopic cilium, where an eyelash grows abnormally, potentially irritating the cornea. These issues can be common in specific breeds, such as Labradoodles. The vet will investigate other potential reasons for excess tear production, such as conjunctivitis, uveitis, or glaucoma, which may require specialized treatment. 

By identifying the precise cause of your dog’s tear stains, you can ensure the most appropriate and effective treatment plan to improve your furry companion’s eye health and overall well-being.

What is Epiphora in Dogs?

Epiphora is the term used when tears overflow onto a dog’s face. It can result from excessive tear production, insufficient tear drainage, or a combination of both factors.

Epiphora is the term used when tears overflow onto a dog’s face. This can result in wetness and staining of the fur around the dog’s eyes. Epiphora can occur for various reasons. Some dogs may produce more tears than usual due to eye irritation or underlying health issues, leading to excessive tearing. 

Additionally, if there is a blockage in the normal tear drainage system, tears may accumulate on the face. Underlying eye conditions like conjunctivitis, uveitis, or glaucoma can also contribute to increased tear production, further exacerbating epiphora. 

Certain dog breeds, particularly those with flat faces (brachycephalic breeds), may be more predisposed to tear staining due to their anatomy. In some cases, dogs may have congenital issues such as imperforate puncta, where the nasolacrimal duct doesn’t develop correctly, resulting in chronic epiphora. 

See Your Vet

Whether temporary or chronic, if a dog experiences persistent epiphora, it’s advisable to seek veterinary advice, as it could be indicative of an underlying health problem requiring treatment.

Treatment Options

When it comes to addressing tear stains in dogs, treatment options can vary depending on the underlying cause. Here are some common approaches to managing and treating tear stains:

  • Grooming and Hygiene: Regularly clean the stained area around your dog’s eyes with a soft cloth or cotton pad moistened with warm water. Trimming the fur around the eyes can also help reduce moisture retention and staining.
  • Dietary Changes: Consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet. If food allergies or sensitivities are suspected, your vet may recommend switching to a hypoallergenic or high-quality dog food that doesn’t contain common allergens.
  • Medicated Eye Drops or Ointments: In cases where an underlying eye condition is contributing to tear stains, your vet may prescribe medicated eye drops or ointments to address the issue. Follow your vet’s instructions carefully when using these medications.
  • Tear Stain Removers: There are commercial tear stain removers available that can help break down and remove stains. Always choose products specifically designed for dogs and consult your vet before using them.
  • Surgical Interventions: In more severe cases or when there are structural issues with the tear ducts or eyelashes, surgical procedures like cryosurgery or dacryocystorhinotomy may be necessary to correct the problem.
  • Supplements: Some dog owners find that adding supplements like probiotics or specific dietary additives can help reduce tear staining. Consult with your vet before introducing any supplements to your dog’s diet.
  • Natural Remedies: Certain natural remedies, such as diluted apple cider vinegar or chamomile tea, may be used to gently clean the stained area. However, always consult with your vet before trying any home remedies to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your dog.

It’s essential to work closely with your veterinarian to identify the specific cause of your dog’s tear stains and determine the most suitable treatment approach. What works best for one dog may not be the right solution for another, so a personalized treatment plan is key to effectively managing tear stains and promoting your dog’s eye health.

Coconut Oil for Dog Tear Stains

Coconut oil is a popular natural remedy for addressing tear stains in dogs. Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a gentle yet effective option. 

To use coconut oil for tear stains, apply a small amount (about a pea-sized) to a clean, soft cloth or cotton pad. Gently rub this onto the stained area around your dog’s eyes, taking care not to get the oil directly into their eyes. The coconut oil can help break down the accumulated tear stains and moisturize the skin, potentially reducing the staining over time. 

Consult with your veterinarian before using coconut oil or any other home remedies to ensure that it’s safe and suitable for your dog’s specific needs. If tear stains persist despite natural remedies, it’s advisable to seek professional veterinary advice to address any underlying issues causing the staining.

Improving Your Dog’s Comfort Level

While addressing tear stains in your dog, it’s equally important to prioritize their comfort. You can take several steps to ensure your furry friend’s well-being during this time. 

Begin by regularly trimming the fur around your dog’s eyes, reducing moisture retention and potential irritation. Gently cleaning the corners of their eyes with a paper towel moistened with warm water helps maintain eye hygiene. Using a dog-specific eye wash as part of your routine can further keep your dog’s eyes clean and hydrated. 

If your dog exhibits signs of discomfort by pawing at their eyes, consider using an Elizabethan collar to prevent self-inflicted damage until you can consult with your veterinarian. 

While there are various tear-staining products available, it’s advisable to consult your vet before using them, as these products may mask underlying issues without addressing the root cause of your dog’s Epiphora. 

Managing Tear Stains Effectively

Tear stains in dogs are a common concern that can be effectively managed with the right approach. While they are often harmless in young puppies, persistent staining in older dogs may indicate underlying issues like excessive tear production or blocked drainage. 

Seeking veterinary guidance is essential to identify the specific causes of tear stains and determine the most suitable treatment plan.  Remember that each dog is unique, so a personalized approach is key to addressing tear stains effectively.


Australian Labradoodle Breeder at
Since 2011, I've dedicated myself to breeding Standard Sized Australian Labradoodles, fueled by a passion for holistic practices and exceptional quality. My focus lies in fostering strong bonds between humans and dogs, crafting loyal companions for therapy, service, and family — spreading love, one precious puppy at a time.
Alana Holst

Alana Holst

Australian Labradoodle Breeder

We make a heartfelt promise to our cherished puppies and their new families, dedicating ourselves to the health, happiness, and lifelong well-being of every Labradoodle we raise and to fostering a supportive community among our adoptive families. Learn more about us.

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Australian Labradoodle Momma at Big Rock Labradoodles

Where Care Meets Excellence!

At Big Rock Labradoodles, we champion a comprehensive, science-based, and holistic approach in breeding and nurturing exceptional standard-sized genuine Multigenerational Australian Labradoodles. Our commitment to atypical rearing strategies ensures that we never settle for the ordinary — we strive for extraordinary dogs destined for prolonged and fulfilling lives. Learn more about our code of ethics and our adoption process. When you feel ready to welcome a new family member, we invite you to fill out our adoption application — the first step towards finding your new furry family member.

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