Tear stains on dogs: causes & how to remove

Learn what causes tears stains under dogs eyes, and how you can safely remove them if necessary

28th September 2023

What is tear staining?

Tear staining is a product of excessive tear production, resulting in a pink, dark brown, or rusty red stain around the tear ducts. Extremely common, particularly in white-coated dog breeds, tear staining is simply the residue of backed-up tears that get trapped in the fur surrounding the eyes.

Tear stains are most visible in dogs with an excess amount of hair around the eyes and nose. They’re also more likely to impact dogs with short noses due to their eyes being more exposed.

What causes tear stains on dogs?

There are a whole host of reasons why your pet pooch may have tear stains. Though dog tear stains are a widespread commonality in dogs and are usually nothing to worry about, there are some instances where dog tear stains are related to your furry friend's health.

Common causes can include:


If your dog is allergic to something, this can cause extreme tear production. Allergies are often heightened during a change in season, so it’s good to be aware of this.

Blocked puncta (tear drainage holes)

Whether down to scar tissue or a pre-existing infection, these holes can get blocked up and prevent tears from draining properly.

Ingrown hairs

Hair surrounding the eyes, as well as eyelashes, can become ingrown and, as a result, cause your dog’s eyes to tear up more aggressively.

Shallow eye sockets

Dogs with flatter faces, shorter noses, and less pronounced or sunken eye sockets tend to tear up more frequently.

Do tear stains go away on their own?

The short answer is, yes. Dog tear stains are never usually permanent - as your dog continues to grow and develop, they almost always go away. A healthy dog’s eyes are bound to tear up every now and then, and it’s usually a sign that their eyes are flushing out unwanted bacteria.

However, if tear stains are persistent with your dog and start to become an issue, we’d recommend manually removing them yourself.

How to get rid of your dog’s tear stains

You don’t need to take a trip to the vet or invest in overly expensive products to remove tear stains. Simply use warm water and cotton wool to gently wipe your dog’s eyes until the tear stains are removed.

Once you’ve finished, you could add a small dollop of Vaseline under the eyes to help prevent tears from sitting and staining the area again.

Which breeds are prone to tear stains?

There are particular breeds that have congenital tear duct issues that result in tear stains - and these dogs usually have larger eyes and shorter noses than most. Amongst the breeds that have increased eye discharge are Bulldogs, Pugs, Rottweilers, and Boxers.

Larger dogs tend to have thick eye discharge, whereas smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and Terriers excrete a clear, lightweight liquid. It’s worth noting that white dogs tend to have more issues with tear stains than other colour dogs.


So, remember that tear stains are extremely common in dogs - particularly in certain breeds and lighter-coloured hounds. However, should you believe that their tear stains are linked to a more serious health condition, we recommend seeking veterinary advice.

Keep your faithful hound safe with dog insurance and give them access to the medical care they need - it’s important to keep your furry friend happy and healthy!

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