How to Remove Dog Tear Stains Naturally & KEEP Them Away

You may have one of the cutest dogs at the dog park, but what is that gunk under their eyes? You feel like you just cleaned it off but here it is again a few days later.

These stains are particularly noticeable on light-colored dogs due to their chocolate-drop colored appearance and can be present around their muzzles and in between their eyes.

Removing stains takes time and the right products to eliminate the problem once and for all. This guide will explore how to remove dog tear stains naturally!

What Causes Dog Tear Stains and Their Brown Color?

dog eye without tear stains
Tear stains can be difficult to eliminate, but they can disappear with diligent cleaning.

The tear stains are essentially excess eye fluid that has drained down to the tear ducts on both sides of the dog’s nose and have built up over time.

There are a few causes of these stains including health issues, blocked tear ducts, allergies, ear infections, teething, and more.

The red-brown color is a result of iron waste from the breakdown of red blood cells. The iron stains the tears and leaves a very noticeable trace on light-colored dogs.

Tears are essential to eye health because they provide the eye with nutrients, protect the surface of the eye and aid in vision.

Tear staining, however, is a buildup of these tears that drain on top of the dog’s face and accumulate. 

There are two steps to fix your dog’s tear stains: prevention and cleaning.

How Can I Prevent Dog Tear Stains?

Check with the Vet

Most tear stains are harmless, but underlying health conditions can cause persistent tear staining. We recommend a vet checkup to make sure all is well before focusing on cleaning and prevention.


Make sure your dog’s food agrees with your dog. Ensuring the quality of your dog food may be enough to prevent tear stains by eliminating allergies that can cause drippy eyes.

The front packaging may draw you in with its clever label, and a picture that looks just like your pup but don’t be fooled by marketing. What’s on the back of the label is what really counts. 

Many fillers are added to dog food, which many dogs are allergic to. Sometimes grain-free options help dogs feel much better since many dogs don’t properly digest the meal, wheat, or corn fillers in their food.


Pure water is also important for avoiding tear stains. Poor quality water or tap water may contain traces of excess minerals that lead to minor or severe health complications in dogs. 

Switching to purified water removes harmful fluorides, chlorines, and other toxins. This is often a surprisingly easy fix for dog tear stains.


Investing in your dog’s oral and eye hygiene could boost their overall health. Dog eye flush drops and special dog wipes are available at most pet stores.

Also, consider trimming your dog’s hair around the eyes to prevent infection and help loosen and remove tear stains.

pH Balance

Your dog’s pH levels are also affected by food and may be out of balance. Slightly altering the acidity of their body chemistry may lead to the prevention of tear stains. 

One way in which this is possible is by adding a very small amount of vinegar to your dog’s water.

Apple Cider Vinegar is a common vinegar used with dogs, as it is very natural, and has many health benefits including beneficial bacteria that are not found in other kinds of vinegar. 

Check with a vet before giving your dog apple cider vinegar because it can be harmful to dogs with underlying disease, such as kidney disease, who cannot process additional acid.

Do Natural dog tear stain removers Work?

Veterinary checking dogs eye
Have a vet check your dog to ensure that tear stains are not caused by an underlying health condition.

So, how do you remove these dog tear stains? There are a few solutions to remove dog tear stains naturally. 

After eliminating the primary surface build-up, daily maintenance is required to ensure the overall health of your four-legged friend. 

We strongly advise against making your own multiple-parts solution to cure your dog’s tear stains, because they may end up doing more harm than good. 

The eyes are an incredibly sensitive area of the body, and if any toxins enter these sockets, it may lead to permanent damage.

Homemade concoctions may drip into the dog’s eyes, or they may try to scrape it off, and ingest it.

To be on the safe side, we recommend using an already safety-approved product, or as few natural ingredients in your own homemade solution as possible.

The more natural the product, the fewer antibiotics are used, and the healthier your dog’s eyes will become.

Companies like Natural Rapport, Chewy, and Burt’s Bees sell natural tear stain removers, which are easy to apply and painless for your pup. 

We put a bunch of them to the test on our dogs, and these were our favorite tear stain removers on the market.


Moisten a cotton gauze pad with a light saline solution or a hydrogen peroxide solution with four parts water and lightly rub around the eye, but not directly in the eye.

This helps remove the tear stains and will brighten the area over time. It’s vital to keep the solution out of the eye.


Moisten a damp washcloth with an all-natural stain remover. Wipe around your dog’s eyes and snout every few days even if the stains have been seemingly removed. Continual cleansing will prevent any future stains.


Natural barrier products absorb tears before they are able to permanently stain your dog’s hair. These include dog powders found at most pet stores.

Cleaning your dog’s tear stains, and making sure that they do not return, involves little money, but a lot of time. A healthy-looking pup requires maintenance and care.

A cleansing routine is strongly suggested to ensure a healthy-looking pet. An easy morning routine can be as simple as two steps. 

A Simple Morning Routine to Cleanse Dog Tear Stains

Pet Groomer Cleaning Dogs Eyes
A vet or dog groomer can safely remove all tear stains from your dog if you don’t want to tackle them at home.

First, use a natural eye flush in the morning when your pet’s eyes look either overly wet or dry. You can also use natural dog eye drops.

Then, use a pet wipe every morning to clean the gunk from the corners of your pet’s eyes, the surface of the eyes, the nose, and the mouth.

Repeat again in the evening if your pet is prone to frequent or thick tear staining. 

Final Thoughts

Whether they’re from allergies in the diet or the environment, poor grooming habits, or excessive moisture, dogs who suffer from heavy tear stains may have underlying health issues. 

Take your dog to the vet to eliminate the possibility of health concerns before tackling the problem with daily cleansing. Switch their food and water, trim the hair around their eyes, and establish a cleansing routine. 

Tear staining may be ugly but the good news is it’s not life-threatening. With diligent cleaning and care, tear stains will be a thing of the past.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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