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What Causes Tear Stains in Pets?

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What Causes Tear Stains in Pets?
What Causes Tear Stains or Saliva Stains in Pets | Innovet Pet

Tear stains or saliva stains are a common problem in pets, especially dogs. This fluid is released by their eyes and can be caused by a few different things, such as glaucoma or allergies. If you’re interested in learning more about what exactly causes these, how you can remove them, and eventually prevent them from occurring, you’ll want to check out this article. Below you’ll find some helpful information about tear stains and how you can safely remove them.

What are Tear Stains or Saliva Stains in Pets?

Tear stains or saliva stains in pets is caused by epiphora which is a type of overflow of tears in the eyes. These stains will vary in their coloring although most tend to be brownish-red and make a slight streak under their eyes. Many pets tend to have this problem, although it’s a bit more visible on pets that have light-colored hair.

Are Tear Stains Dangerous?

Tear stains are not dangerous and don’t usually cause severe irritations. They usually just stain the fur around their eyes which can stain their fur. However, while tear stains

aren’t harmful, they could be a sign of an underlying medical problem, such as an eye infection, that needs to be fixed.

What Dog Breeds Get Tears Stains the Most?

You’ll find that a few dog breeds tend to get tear stains more than others.

Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus have a smaller snout which can invite tear stains to form. However, sometimes this breed has slight brown coloring under their eyes which can be confused with tear stains. Because of this, it’s important to look closely at their eyes before trying to treat possible Shih Tzu tear stains.


Maltese also have a smaller snout which can cause tear stains to develop often. Tear stains are often very evident on this breed as they have white fur.


This breed has a very flat snout which can cause the tear ducts to release stains sometimes.


Pekingese not only have very long fur around their face which could irritate their eyes, but their snout is also very flat. This can cause tear stains to form.


Poodles also tend to have shorter snouts compared to other breeds which can result in

tear stains. Sometimes these stains might even move down to their mouth. Many poodles also have very light-colored fur which can make these tear stains very visible.

What Causes Tear Stains or Saliva Stains in Pets | Innovet Pet

What Causes Tear Stains in Dogs

There are a few things that can cause tear stains in dogs and other pets. While some are acute, there are also a handful of chronic issues that could cause them as well.


Glaucoma is when the optic nerve becomes damaged which eventually causes pressure to build into your eyes. Eventually, fluid can build-up behind the eye which can create tear stains.

Eye Infections

When bacteria gets into your pet’s eyes it could end up leading to an infection. This could eventually cause tear stains as their body is trying to fight it off.


If your pet ends up getting dust, dirt, smoke, or other similar irritants in their eyes, it could end up causing tear stains. This is because it makes the tear ducts overwork to help remove these irritants. If they aren’t removed, it could end up causing extreme irritations which could make tear stains form.

Ingrown Eyelashes

While ingrown eyelashes are usually hereditary, they can create extreme irritation in your pet’s eyes. Eventually, this could lead to inflammation or trauma to the eye resulting in severe tear stains.

Ear Infections

Believe it or not, if your dog has an ear infection in one ear, the infection could end up spreading into the ear on the same side. The bacteria can lead to inflammation which could cause tear stains.


Sometimes allergies can be very irritating to your pet’s body which can result in their eyes getting watery. If their body can’t handle the amount of allergies (that could be caused by pollutants or in their food) it could end up causing their tear ducts to overwork which could lead to tear stains.

Their Water

Water can sometimes contain various minerals which could cause their eyes to quickly develop tear stains. Because of this, it’s often recommended that you give your pet distilled and filtered water to ensure their body isn’t getting too much of one mineral.



This condition causes the lining of the eye to become inflamed. This inflammation can eventually lead to thick, mucus-like discharge coming from their eyes.

What Causes Tear Stains or Saliva Stains in Pets | Innovet Pet

Do Cats Get Tear Stains?

While it’s not as common in cats as it is in dogs, cats can get tear stains. This is especially so in breeds such as Himalayans and Persians. Just as with dogs, cats can get tear stains due to epiphora which could have been caused due to their genetics, allergies, infections, or because they might have been in a fight with another cat or animal.

Puppy Tear Stains

Puppies often suffer from tear stains due to their body still growing. This is especially so when they are teething. Because of this, puppies will often have thick tear stains that happen often. Unless there are other concerning symptoms, this is completely

normal in puppies. While you should make sure to clean them off, never give them antibiotic creams without talking with your vet first as it could hurt them.

Why It’s Important to Remove Them

It’s important to remove dog tear stains for quite a few reasons. They will not only make their face look unsightly due to the bright discolored residue on it but can be irritating to them as well. Because tear stains can sometimes be caused by bacteria, if not removed, could cause this bacteria to multiply. In addition to this, tear stains can also end up being difficult to get off of their fur if left on for too long. This can end up

causing their fur to get knotted and feel brittle. It could also end up making their fur discolored.

What Causes Tear Stains or Saliva Stains in Pets | Innovet Pet

How to Remove Tear Stains: Home Remedy

There are a few ways you can treat tear stains or saliva stains. Below are some steps to consider to help fully remove them from your pet.

Hydrogen Peroxide

If you’re looking for a simple dog tear stains home remedy, definitely consider using hydrogen peroxide. This liquid helps to safely dissolve the tear stains while also destroying any bacteria that might be on their skin. To do so, take a clean cotton ball and dip it into a hydrogen peroxide and filtered water mixture (usually one part hydrogen peroxide to ten parts water) and gently wipe it over the area affected by tear stains. You’ll want to be very careful when doing so as if the hydrogen peroxide gets into their eyes it could cause them to burn. Keep repeating this process until the tear stains in dogs have disappeared.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar helps to balance out your dog’s pH which can cause tear stains. It’s also a natural bacteria killer which can help to remove any signs of infections on their skin due to the stains. To use this, take about one teaspoon, dip a cotton ball in it, and then carefully wipe it over their tear stains. You could also add a teaspoon to their food which can help to not only keep their body healthy, but prevent bacteria that causes tear stains from developing.

Milk of Magnesia

Milk of magnesia, also known as magnesium hydroxide, is often used as a laxative. However, it can also help with cleaning up tear stains as it helps with balancing their body’s pH. To use it, you’ll want to mix equal parts of milk of magnesia with hydrogen peroxide. Then, add a small amount of cornstarch into the mixture so it creates a slight paste. You’ll then want to carefully rub it over the tear stains and then let it sit on the

area for about four hours. To prevent your dog from trying to remove the paste, you can use an e-collar. Once the time has passed, wash the paste off with water.

PurEyes Tear Stain Remover

If you prefer not to make your own tear stain remover, you could consider the PurEyes Tear Stain Remover. This all-natural tear stain remover works within 30 days to fully remove tear stains and even help to prevent them from occurring. It can be used on both cats and dogs and contains only natural ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about rubbing harmful sulfates, alcohol, or antibiotics on their body. Instead, it uses soothing chamomile oil and aloe vera to help remove the stains while keeping the affected skin hydrated. In fact, the ingredients aren’t harmful, which means if you accidentally get a little bit in their eyes, the solution won’t cause irritations. To use it, simply pour a little bit of the solution on a clean cloth or cotton ball. You can then rub it over the tear stains. After letting it sit for a few seconds, carefully wipe it off with warm water. You should ideally do this at least once a week for best results. In

addition to using it on their face, PurEyes Tear Stain Remover can also be used on other parts of their body to remove stains, such as their legs and tail.

Why We Created PurEyes Tear Stain Remover

PurEyes Tear Stain Remover for Dogs | Innovet Pet

We created PurEyes Tear Stain Remover because we have seen how many tear stain removers on the market today either don’t work or contain chemicals that could be irritating to your pet’s skin. Our product makes sure to keep your pet’s skin hydrated and free from discoloration while removing tear stains. It can be used on both cats and dogs safely, including kittens and puppies. This topical tear stain remover will not only help to remove this hardened residue, but also destroy any bacteria that could be causing it.

Our product contains chamomile oil and aloe vera which are two powerful ingredients. Chamomile oil helps to stop inflammation and kills off any bacteria on the skin. Aloe vera hydrates your pet’s skin while supplying it with antioxidants and plenty of helpful

vitamins. All of these work together with various other botanical extracts to help remove tear stains from your pet’s face.

What Causes Tear Stains or Saliva Stains in Pets | Innovet Pet

How to Clean Dog Eyes Stains

Cleaning dog eyes from tear stains is very easy to do, although it requires you to follow a few steps.

Inspect the Area

The first step is to inspect the area. This way, you’ll be able to tell whether or not the tear stains could be caused by dirt, scabs, or other concerning things around their eyes. If there is long hair in the way, consider carefully trimming it so you can safely clean the area.

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

You’ll want to now collect your cleaning supplies. Depending on your preferences, you’ll want to consider using hydrogen peroxide or PurEyes Tear Stain Remover to remove their tear stains.

Gently Wipe the Area

After you have collected your supplies, you should then gently wipe the area off with it. Make sure to do this gently to help prevent getting any solution into their eyes

which could cause irritations. For some products, you can let the solution sit. For others, you’ll need to make sure to carefully wipe it off with warm water.

Cleaning Cat Tear Stains

You can follow the steps above when it comes to cleaning your cat’s tear stains. However, cat tear stains are a bit different from the ones dogs have. Many cats need to have this cleaning procedure done daily. Otherwise, their tear stains could end up causing more problems. Most tear stains in cats are also a sign of some type of

infection. Because of this, it’s important to talk with your vet who will check the tear stains and determine if antibiotics need to be used on them.

What Causes Tear Stains or Saliva Stains in Pets | Innovet Pet

How to Prevent Tear Stains

There are numerous ways you can help to prevent your dog from developing tear stains. Below are some to consider.

Watch Their Diet

Sometimes tear stains in dogs can be caused due to their diet, especially if it invites yeast and bacteria to grow. Because of this, it’s important to watch their diet to help prevent tear stains. To help prevent tear stains, make sure to give them healthy food, such as yogurt, which can destroy harmful bacteria that causes tear stains. You’ll also want to make sure to give them a low-sugar diet as too much sugar can cause yeast to grow rapidly. 

You should also consider adding Omega-3s to their diet. Omega-3s will help to reduce inflammation in their body which can significantly calm down any medical conditions that might be causing your pet to have tear stains.

Give Them Filtered Water

As mentioned above, sometimes unfiltered water can contain certain minerals and heavy metals in it that can lead to excessive tear stains. Because of this, it’s ideal to give them filtered water which can help to prevent tear stains in many dogs.

Keep the Facial Area Clean

One of the best ways to help prevent tear stains is to make sure to keep the facial area clean. This can involve you regularly wiping the area off to help prevent tear stains from sticking to your pet’s fur. It will also prevent the stains from getting out of hand and eventually causing more serious problems.

Take Them to the Vet

The vet can perform tests on your pet’s eyes and give them a regular check-up which can help to prevent extreme tear stains. They’ll also be able to give you some tips and powerful medications you can use in case tear stains start to develop.

Watch the Environment They Are In

If the space your dog tends to be in is often smoky or filled with other environmental factors that could irritate their eyes, try to keep them out of it or ensure it is clean. You can do this by making sure there is plenty of fresh air in the area or that the space is clean and free from allergens.

Trim the Hair Around Their Eyes

Sometimes tear stains can be caused due to long fur hanging over your pet’s eyes. The hair can then end up poking their eyes or irritating their tear ducts which could cause it to release fluid to help soothe it. To prevent it from irritating their eyes, trim the hair. You can do this yourself or use the services of a professional groomer.

Tear stains are a common problem that many dogs suffer with, especially breeds like Shih Tzus and poodles. Thankfully, they can be removed in various ways, such as with PurEyes Tear Stain Remover. If you’re on the search for natural and gentle ways to help remove and prevent tear stains in your pets, keep the information mentioned above in mind.



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