Tear Stains

Short-nosed breeds can be prone to excessive tear stains because they often have shallow eye sockets or hair growth in skin folds around the eyes that can cause problems. Some breeds are more likely than other breeds to have blocked tear ducts which can cause excessive staining.

One of the most common cause of staining is eye related conditions so it is worth a vet check first to ensure there are no signs of the following

In growing eyelashes

Infection of the eye

Unusually large tear glands

Unusually small tear ducts

Glaucoma or other eye diseases


Ear infection

Once these have been ruled out other possible causes can be ruled out,

Environmental factors

Poor quality diet




Bowls, plastic, ceramic or metal

Tear stains are usually the result of porphyrins. Porphyrins are naturally occurring molecules containing iron, waste products from the breakdown of red blood cells and are mostly removed from the body through faeces. Some dogs and cats can also secrete porphyrins through tears, saliva, and urine.

When tears and saliva containing porphyrins fall on light-coloured fur for any period of time, staining will occur and iron containing stains do darken when exposed to sunlight. If stains are a brown colour it’s possible your pet has developed a yeast infection because the fur under her eyes is constantly wet with tears. Brown stains from a yeast infection are different from red staining caused by porphyrins.

Some dogs are more prone despite being healthy and fed on a good quality diet. Over the counter products may lighten the stains but ultimately the root cause of the problem needs to be identified. If a yeast problem is the root cause, then this needs to be rectified to resolve the problem.

Additives, preservatives, sugars & food colourings found in many dog foods and treats can be significant factors in tear staining. Certain spices, flavourings and ingredients may also play a part. There are many options for dietary supplementation which may help reduce staining. If a pH imbalance is suspected, these may help the problem from the inside. Supplements may alter the pH of tears which in turn will be less hospitable for the growth of bacteria and yeast.

Tap water may have a high mineral & chlorine content which is a factor to consider. The impurities in the water may cause tear staining of the face. If this is the case, use filtered water. A difference may be noted in as little as 10 days though it may take up to 3 months for optimal improvement.

Consider intolerance testing to rule out food sensitivities and environmental factors that may be the cause. Once identified these can be removed and the detox process can start.

Dogs going through a detox process can have further staining and this can take 3 to 12 months, each dog is quite different and will react very differently.

Symptoms can include


Stronger smelling urine.

Increased odour.

Itchiness-this can also lead to sores from scratching.


Excessive tearing.

Smelly itchy ears.

Lethargy/sleeping more & for longer.

This period can be disturbing and upsetting for both dog and owner but is necessary to ultimately a healthier happier life. Sometimes this can be a straightforward process with no visible symptoms at all. This process could be the first opportunity their system have had to fight off the toxins that have been building up in their body and as their immune system strengthens this could cause the toxins to be forced out at the same time!!

At this stage you must be strong and allow your dog to battle through these symptoms and fully detox.

There’s no quick simple solution to tear stains, masking the symptoms with products is often the first choice however working through a process can eliminate them long term.

Always check with your vet as a first point of contact for any eye related issues.

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