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If there’s one thing that can spoil those irresistible puppy-dog eyes, it’s a pair of unsightly tear stains beneath them. Tear stains are a common blemish on dogs’ faces—especially when they have light-colored fur—and in addition to being unattractive, they can lead to eye infections and irritation.
This guide covers the safest, best tear stain removers for dogs, plus some tips on how to prevent new tear stains from forming.
In this guide:
- What is the best dog tear stain remover?
- Buying guide: What to consider when comparing dog tear stain removers
- How to prevent dog tear stains
- Frequently asked questions about tear stain removal
What is the best dog tear stain remover?
Best all-natural tear stain remover for dogs
- Gentle formula with all-natural ingredients like lemongrass and lavender oil. No harsh chemicals, alcohol, parabens, MEA, DEA, or artificial fragrances
- Made in the U.S.A. with local ingredients
- 100% satisfaction, money-back guarantee
We love Bodhi Dog’s products. This family-owned business takes safe ingredients and ethical sourcing seriously. It uses U.S.-sourced, all-natural ingredients like lemongrass oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil, and garlic extract to break down tough dog eye stains without parabens or most of the other harsh chemicals industrial products use. The strongest ingredient included is hydrogen peroxide, which is safe for external use on dogs and important for lightening existing tear stains.
On top of that, the company uses recyclable packaging and provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back. Right now, you can save with the following promotions:
Best wipes for dog tear stains
- Natural juniper berry & coconut-based formula to remove crust and mucus without harsh chemicals or bleach
- Convenient wipes mean you don’t have to measure out or apply a liquid solution to your dog’s face
- 100% money-back guarantee
Petpost is another mainstay in the dog product space, manufacturing all of its products locally in the U.S.A.
The company puts thought into the substances and materials it uses, opting for recyclable packaging and natural ingredients like juniper fruit oil, aloe leaf juice, and coconut oil instead of common harsh chemicals. These ingredients break down and remove the mucus and crust that make up dog tear stains without drying out their skin.
Additionally, Petpost is willing to stand behind its products. If you don’t notice a significant change in your dog’s tear stains after a few weeks of consistent use, Petpost will happily refund your money.
We chose Petpost’s tear stain wipe for this review since it offers a convenience you won’t find in liquid tear stain removers. However, if you like Petpost but think a liquid remover will work better for your pup, you can get Petpost’s liquid tear stain remover here.
Best tear stain remover you can actually get in your dog’s eyes
- Vet-approved eye rinse can be applied directly to your dog’s eyes, washing away allergens, irritants, and debris that lead to discomfort and tear staining
- Soothes itchy, irritated, or red eyes
- Safe to use 3–4 times per day to treat the excessive buildup of eye gunk
Vetericyn Plus’s Antimicrobial Pet Eye Wash is different from the other options in this list because it’s meant for use directly on your dog’s eyes. All of the other tear stain removers on this list are safe to use around the eyes, nose, and mouth, but you’re still supposed to avoid direct contact with the eyes.
This means Vetericyn’s product is great if your dog tends to collect pollen or other irritants in their eyes after a romp outside. Washing away this debris won’t just soothe your dog’s itchy eyes—it will also help prevent tear stains from forming in the near future.
This also makes Vetericyn a great option for dog breeds that are prone to eye discharge, such as Chihuahuas, Pugs, and Bulldogs.
Vetericyn’s eye wash fights microbes and infections without the use of antibiotics or steroids.
Best tear stain remover for white dogs
- 3 natural ingredients and 26 minerals from the Dead Sea help penetrate dog hair to break down tear stains
- Contains Euphrasia, Wild Yam, and Sophora
- Get 30% off when ordered with Arava eye wipes. See promotions section of sales page for details
Arava Dead Sea Pet Spa is an Israeli pet care product that relies on botanical oils and 26 minerals sourced directly from the Dead Sea. In fact, 12 of the minerals Arava uses can’t be found in any other sea or ocean.
These ingredients fight bacteria that lead to staining and yeast infections around the eyes, then nourish the hair and skin to keep your dog’s face healthy and stain-free moving forward.
Arava boasts that its products are frequently used to prepare white and light-colored dogs for shows, and it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you use their product and aren’t satisfied.
Best tear stain remover for dogs with rolls and wrinkles
- Antibacterial & antifungal paste prevents infections in dogs with deep-set wrinkles
- Perfect for Bulldogs, Frenchies, Mastiffs, Pugs, and Shar Pei
- Can remove tear stains and deodorize face wrinkles and tail pockets
If you have a chubby, wrinkly, squishy-faced pup, like a French Bulldog or Shar-pei, you’ll probably need a more heavy-duty product to keep tear stains and their associated bacteria at bay. If so, Squishface Wrinkle Paste is your best bet.
Unlike the liquid tear stain removers in this list, Squishface is more like a tube of toothpaste. You wipe clean your dog’s affected areas, then rub the paste into the fold and let it sit for 24 hours. The following day, you wash it out, then reapply for a total of five-to-six days or until the staining or infection clears.
Squishface Wrinkle Paste isn’t as all-natural as some of the other options in this list. However, it is antifungal and fragrance-free, so it should keep your pup’s face clean and healthy without irritating sensitive skin.
Buying guide: What to consider when comparing dog tear stain removers
How to get rid of tear stains
How you get rid of tear stains will depend on the severity and cause of your dog’s eye stains as well as the type of tear stain remover you choose. Dogs with basic staining might only require casual cleaning at bathtime, while dogs with significant discharge and resulting infections will need more substantial treatment.
Types of tear stain removers for dogs
There are four basic types of tear stain removers: liquid, wipes, paste, and powder.
We think wipes are the most convenient option for most dog owners since they offer similar active ingredients to liquid solutions and you don’t need to apply them to cotton balls or pads yourself. Just take them out of the container, wipe your dog’s eyes, and throw them away. Check out Petpost’s product above or review our list of the best eye wipes for dog tear stains if this sounds good to you.
However, dogs with deeply set or advanced eye stains may require a product that soaks into and breaks down the stains more effectively. In this case, a liquid or paste tear stain remover may work better.
Liquid removers work best for soaking long fur, and paste works best for covering the skin in deep wrinkles. We recommend two liquid tear stain removers, one liquid eye rinse, and one paste stain remover in our reviews above.
In most cases, powder-based stain removers don’t offer any significant advantage over other products.
>> Read more: Can You Use Baby Wipes on Dogs?
The ingredients required for tear stain removal
A second consideration is the ingredients you apply to your dog’s skin. Many tear stain removers include harsh chemicals that, although effective, can irritate your dog’s skin or lead to long-term health issues. Some home remedies may be healthier but ineffective at removing stains.
In this guide, we tried to find products that maintain transparent, all-natural ingredients while remaining effective at removing stains.
How to prevent dog tear stains
Check for underlying health issues
Tear stains are just a fact of life for many pups. But if your dog constantly develops eye gunk and tear stains, you may need to investigate whether an underlying health issue, such as allergies, is to blame.
During your regular check-up, ask your vet if the amount of eye discharge and staining is normal. They may be able to recommend some tests or treatments that could identify the cause.
You should also pay attention to your dog’s behavior. If they frequently sneeze, wheeze, or scratch after playing in certain areas, eating certain foods, or during certain seasons, they’re probably reacting to something. Try to separate them from the source of their irritation to see if the discharge and tear staining improve.
Provide a higher-quality diet
Most dog food brands process the nutrients out of their ingredients and add loads of fillers and preservatives to help stretch their product’s shelf life. This creates a dearth of nutrition that can have immediate and long-term effects on your dog’s physical health. It can also lead to allergic reactions that regularly cause tear stains.
Although more expensive, high-quality dog food brands like NomNomNow and Ollie or even meal supplements like Stella & Chewy’s can do wonders for a pup’s health and the long-term cost of their medical care.
You should also monitor the water supply your dog regularly consumes. If they like to drink from the puddle next to your neighbor’s rain gutter, that could be part of the issue. Make sure they always have access to their water bowl and replace it with fresh water daily to ensure they don’t need to look elsewhere to quench their thirst.
>> Read more: Best Dog Food for Tear Stains
Groom more frequently
It may be difficult or impossible to totally prevent the discharge that leads to tear stains, so addressing this discharge early and often is important. Wipe your dog’s eyes and mouth regularly to prevent permanent stains from setting in, and keep the fur around their eyes and mouth shorter if the discoloration bothers you.
Frequently asked questions about tear stain removal
What are dog tear stains?
Dog tear stains are the dark red or rusty brown stains that form around your dog’s eyes and mouth. They are the result of porphyrins, a waste byproduct excreted from the body in the tears and saliva. Although they are unsightly and may point to an underlying issue, most tear stains aren’t a major cause for concern.
Are certain dog breeds more prone to tear stains than others?
Yes. Although any dog can develop tear stains, some breeds are more prone than others due to the construction of their faces or the length and color of their fur. These breeds include:
- American, English, and French Bulldogs
- Bichon Frise
- Boston Terriers
- Lhasa Apso
- Shar Pei
- Shih Tzus
- Yorkshire Terriers
You’ll notice that each of the breeds listed above are either snub-nosed dogs with protruding eyes and deep-set wrinkles or dogs that tend to have long, light-colored fur around the eyes.
Do tear stains mean my dog has a health issue?
Tear stains may indicate an underlying issue, but it’s not usually a cause for major concern. Most often, stains form after excessive tearing or salivating. This may mean your dog is having an allergic reaction to something in their diet or environment. Or, it may indicate an eye infection or a blocked tear duct caused by a previous infection or an eyelid that has turned inward.
Long hair around the eyes can also cause irritation or wick tears down the face.
Red tear stains indicate a high iron content in your dog’s blood, which may be addressed by slowly altering their diet.
Brown, smelly tear stains may indicate a yeast infection caused by prolonged dampness in the area. This often indicates a blocked tear duct that is leading to too much external drainage.
How often should I use a dog eye stain remover?
Most dog tear stain removers will have a noticeable effect after two-to-three days, but you may need to apply the treatment for a longer amount of time to completely remedy the issue. However, you should always follow the instructions included with your product of choice, as well as your veterinarian’s advice, when treating your pet.
What’s the best product for dog tear stains?
In our opinion, the best product to remove tear stains on dogs is Bodhi Dog’s Natural Tear Stain Remover, due to its all-natural ingredients and the company’s reputation for quality products. However, the best product for you will depend on how advanced your dog’s tear stains are and the type of remover you need. Review our recommendations above to see which product is the best fit for your needs.