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Tear stains are more common in some breeds than others and are especially noticeable on dogs with white or light-colored hair, like the Maltese and Bichon Frise.
What causes dog tear stains?
Dog tear stains are the result of an overflow of tears from the eyes (known as epiphora) onto your dog’s hair, which is commonly associated with either insufficient tear drainage or excess tear production. And the reason behind the red/brown color in the stains is porphyrin, a molecule dogs naturally produce when breaking down iron.
As for what causes the excess tears/insufficient drainage in the first place, this can be due to environmental factors, your dog’s genetics, or numerous underlying health issues.
I’ll discuss these in more detail shortly, but the bottom line is that it’s always best to speak to a qualified veterinarian before using any over-the-counter or homemade remedies for dog tear stains.
Why? Because at the end of the day, your dog’s tear stains are a symptom of “something,” and that “something” could be an underlying health issue. So by removing the stains without addressing the root cause, whatever that might be, you could be overlooking something.
That said, it is possible to remove the stains from your dog’s coat.
And there are some great products on the market that are specifically designed to help remove tear stains on dogs with white and light-colored coats.
So if you’re looking for the best dog tear stain removers, read on.
5 Best Tear Stain Removers for Dogs With White Hair (Including Maltese, Bichon Frise, & Bulldogs)
We’ve researched dozens of products claiming to help remove tear stains from white-coated dogs and narrowed it down to just five picks.
How did we select them?
We chose our top tear stain remover picks by considering a variety of factors such as how effective they are based on user ratings and customer reviews, the ingredients list, the company behind the product, and how easy the product is to use.
We also looked at the method of application and strived to include a variety of different types of stain removers on the list to suit different preferences (i.e., shampoo, wipes, cream, etc.).
And lastly, while these products can work well on any coat color, we decided to focus on choosing the best solutions on the market for dogs with white and light-colored hair because that is typically the most difficult type of coat to remove stains from.
So with that said, here are our top five picks:
- TropiClean SPA Tear Stain Remover for White Dogs – #1 Pick
- Angel’s Eyes Gentle Tear Stain Wipes – Best Presoaked Wipes
- Squishface Wrinkle Paste – Best for Wrinkly Dogs Like Bulldogs & Pugs
- Burt’s Bees for Dogs Tear Stain Remover – Best Natural Wipes
- Lillian Ruff Brightening Face and Body Wash for Dogs – Best Tear Stain Removal Shampoo
1. TropiClean SPA Tear Stain Remover for White Dogs – #1 Pick
TropiClean’s SPA tear stain remover facial cleaner is our top overall pick because, while it works on any type of dog and coat color, it’s ideal for dogs with white hair.
It’s also made in the USA with a soap-free, naturally-derived coconut cleanser that gently exfoliates and hydrates your dog’s skin.
Not to mention, this cleaner has a beautiful blueberry and vanilla scent. So not only will it remove those dreaded tear stains, but your dog will smell beautiful!
How does it work?
The way this tear remover works is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is wet your dog’s face with lukewarm water and wash the tear-stained area with the TropiClean facial cleanser. Then, after letting it soak for a few minutes, you just rinse it off and dry your pup. Walla!
There is no magic solution to dog tear stains. But with regular use, you will see a noticeable decrease in the tear stains and a whiter, brighter coat where you’ve washed.
This cleanser is suitable for dogs with dark-colored coats, too; it just works super well on dogs with white hair like the Maltese, Bichon Frise, and Poodle.
And while it is recommended to keep it out of your dog’s eyes (like any shampoo or cleanser), the ingredients are mild and soap-free, so it’s safe to use regularly.
2. Angel’s Eyes Gentle Tear Stain Wipes – Best Presoaked Wipes
This is a great choice for anyone looking for the best tear stain remover wipes that come presoaked, meaning you can use them straight from the container.
These wipes are textured and soaked in a gentle, effective formula that contains chamomile extract and aloe vera. And they are specifically designed to remove dried mucus, secretions, and tear stains from your dog’s coat.
On the plus side, these wipes are effective, easy to use, and safe to use daily (even on puppies that are older than six weeks). They can also help reduce itching and irritation.
On the other hand, while these are affordable, with 100 presoaked wipes per container, they won’t last as long as some of the other products on the list. Especially if you use one wipe per eye per day, which is what the company suggests.
Not to mention, there are heavier-duty solutions for dogs with wrinkles (like Pugs and Bulldogs) and products that are made from more natural ingredients. So, while this is a great product, there are some others that may work better depending on your preference.
3. Squishface Wrinkle Paste – Best for Wrinkly Dogs Like Bulldogs & Pugs
The Squishface Wrinkle Paste is perfect for wrinkly “squish face” dogs like the Bulldog or Pug, and it’s especially suited to removing stains from white fur caused by wrinkles.
Not only does it help remove tear stains from overlapping skin around the face, but it helps relieve irritation and itchiness from virtually anywhere else your dog has loose, flappy skin. What’s more, it forms a water-repellent barrier that can help prevent stains in the first place.
How does it work?
The way this tear stain remover works is different from our last two picks in that, rather than being a cleansing wash or wipe, it’s a paste that you apply to the tear-stained area and let sit for 24 hours. So unlike the last two picks, this isn’t a cleanser; it’s a creamy paste that you apply.
In any case, once 24 hours have passed, the idea is to wipe the area down and apply the paste again, repeating this process each day for about a week. This should be more than enough time for you to notice a big difference in your dog’s coat.
For best results, the company recommends using their Wrinkle Wipes before applying the paste, but it is designed to work well on its own, so that’s optional. The important thing is to make sure the area is clean and dry before applying the paste so it can do its job properly.
4. Burt’s Bees for Dogs Tear Stain Remover – Best Natural Wipes
Burt’s Bees has been around since 1984 and is one of the most trusted brands in the pet care space. The great thing about their tear stain remover is that it removes stains from around your dog’s eyes safely and gently, using all-natural ingredients.
And that’s ultimately what sets this product apart from many others. It’s not so much that it does a better job of removing the stains; it’s that the ingredients are natural.
Each bottle of Burt’s Bees contains chamomile and dandelion extract and is pH balanced specifically for dogs and puppies.
It’s also free from harsh chemicals, fragrances, colorants, and sulfates. So you can rest assured that not only does it work, but it’s safe, soothing, and shouldn’t irritate your dog’s skin.
The main drawback is that it’s not designed to work as quickly as some of the other products on the list. It can take 2-4 weeks to start noticing visible results. Also, unlike the presoaked wipes, this comes in liquid form, so you’ll need to apply it to cotton balls.
Neither of those is a big deal, though, especially if your main concern is using a tear stain remover made from all-natural ingredients.
5. Lillian Ruff Brightening Face and Body Wash for Dogs – Best Tear Stain Removal Shampoo
Lillian Ruff’s whitening and brightening shampoo is a cut above the rest, and in my opinion, it’s easily the best full-body shampoo for removing tear stains on the market.
What’s so good about it?
To start with, it does an amazing job of removing tear stains (and stains from inside skin wrinkles) from dogs with white hair and lighter-colored coats.
Second, with shampoo, you don’t really need to change anything about your routine. You can simply use this shampoo during regular bath time, and it’ll remove stains while whitening your dog’s coat and soothing itchy, dry skin.
Third, it’s infused with real blueberry extract and natural essential oils that not only help keep your dog’s coat in top shape but keep him smelling beautiful and fresh for days.
Lastly, it’s made in the USA with a unique tear-free, gluten-free, paraben, and sulfate-free formula that is safe to use on puppies and dogs, even around sensitive eye areas.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to avoid getting shampoo in your dog’s eyes, but it’s nice to know that if you accidentally do, it’s unlikely to be a problem.
All in all, there’s a lot to like about this Lillian Ruff whitening, tear-stain removing shampoo, and to top it off, it represents great value for money.
What Are Some Good Alternatives?
There is something to suit virtually any type of dog and preference with our above picks, so if you’re looking to remove stains from a white coat, those are what we recommend.
That said, there are some unique alternatives worth considering and options available if you’re looking to amp things up a bit. So let’s discuss those now.
Tear Stain and Eye Gunk Remover Combs
One of the best alternatives to using a wipe, cream, or shampoo to remove tear stains and gunk around your dog’s eyes is a purpose-built comb, like the one from Petpost.
And the reason is that this nifty, inexpensive tool will safely remove crusty eye goobers and built-up mucus quickly and easily – before it stains your dog’s hair.
There are numerous combs on the market that’ll do this job effectively, but we prefer the one from Petpost because it’s sturdy and made up of 65 stainless steel pins that are rounded at the bottom. So not only does it get the job done, but it does so safely.
The main drawback with a comb like this is that it’s not the best way to remove stains. It’s great for getting rid of eye gunk on dogs like the Maltese, Shih Tzu, and Bichon Frise, for example, and it can help remove loose stain-covered fur. But when it comes to stains, where these combs excel is with prevention since you’re removing the gunk before it stains your dog’s coat.
Nevertheless, this is a great alternative to the other products I mentioned earlier and can be especially worthwhile for anyone whose dog gets lots of eye goobers.
And considering some stains can be permanent and impossible to remove without letting the hair grow and/or trimming, prevention can be just as important as stain removal, especially with white haired-dogs.
Multi-Step Tear Stain Removal Kits
If you’ve found that a one-product solution just isn’t cutting it, a multi-step system may be what you’ve been looking for. And one of the best we’ve seen is Eye Envy’s dog tear stain remover starter kit, which works in two distinct steps.
- Step one is the Tear Stain Solution, which you apply with the help of the applicator pads that come with the kit. The idea of this step is to wipe away any gunk and remove as much of the stain as possible in preparation for the next step.
- And step two is where you use the Tear Stain Powder with the help of the ProPowder Brush, which is a natural silk-like powder that absorbs excess moisture and helps repel new tears.
Together, this is a comprehensive system made from natural ingredients that can help both remove and prevent tear stains. Not to mention, this product doesn’t contain parabens, peroxide, or bleach, it’s made in the USA, and it’s safe for dogs of all ages.
What’s the downside? The main drawback with this approach is that, while it can work really well on tough stains, it’s not as simple to use as some of the other products we’ve highlighted.
Then again, it is arguably less effort compared to bathing or washing your dog’s face. So in the end, it really depends on what approach you prefer.
Dog Chews for Preventing Tear Stains
I’m very selective when it comes to what I feed my dogs, and I’m skeptical of pet-related supplements, especially those that make bold claims.
However, through my research, I managed to find a supplement from NaturVet that looks relatively effective for helping to eliminate dog tear stains from the inside out.
How does it work?
The general idea behind this supplement is that it’s designed to help lubricate a dog’s mucous membranes, which in turn may help prevent tear stains.
It’s also meant to help offer immune support for dogs (and cats).
As for ingredients, this supplement contains (among other things) lutein, cranberry extract, calcium, Oregan grape root, ascorbate, and marshmallow root, as well as omega-3 and 6.
I haven’t tried this particular supplement with my dogs, so I can’t tell you if it works firsthand or not. And as always, I recommend speaking to your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet, especially if it’s something you’ve never tried before.
However, NaturVet’s supplement has relatively good reviews overall from what I’ve seen, and the company has been around for almost 30 years (since 1994). What’s more, the supplement is wheat-free and made in the USA.
So, while using a supplement is not my first choice, and it’s something I generally remain skeptical of, I did think it was worth including this as an alternative to our top picks.
There’s no shortage of home remedies for dog tear stains online, but when you boil it down, some of the best methods are simple, natural, and very easy to do.
For example, one popular home remedy involves mixing a small amount of peroxide with water and cornstarch. Another concoction is salt, vitamin C, and distilled water. And a third home remedy some suggest is a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar added to your dog’s water.
As with any home remedy, proceed with caution. It’s generally going to be safer and more practical to speak to your vet instead of trying a home remedy from the internet (lol). But out of all the home remedy ideas I came across, those seem to be among the more popular ideas.
What else can you try?
Aside from mixing up a tear stain removal concoction, one of the best ways to help rule out diet-related causes is to speak with your vet about what to feed your dog. This is because some dog foods contain fillers, dyes, and artificial ingredients that can cause allergies and otherwise increase the likelihood of tear stains occurring in dogs.
Some experts also suggest using filtered and/or demineralized water, as high mineral content in your dog’s water has been known to increase the chance of tears building up.
Visit a Professional Groomer
If nothing you’ve tried has worked to remove the unsightly tear stains, or if all of this just seems like too much work, another alternative is to visit a professional groomer.
On the one hand, this could save you time initially, as a good groomer is likely used to dealing with dog tear staining and may be able to quickly deal with it.
On the flip side, this is likely going to cost you a lot more than any of the other methods I’ve mentioned. And short of trimming the coat, removing a dog’s tear stains is rarely a single-visit solution, so you’ll still likely need to visit multiple times or work on removing the stains yourself in the days (and potentially even weeks) ahead.
What Causes Tear Stains in Dogs?
As mentioned at the outset, dog tear stains come about due to an overflow of tears from the eyes (known as epiphora) onto your dog’s hair, which is commonly associated with either insufficient tear drainage or excess tear production. And that, in turn, can be caused by environmental factors, your dog’s genetics, or numerous underlying health issues.
- Environment: Your dog’s environment can play a role in tear staining. Aside from what your dog eats and drinks, there are other environmental factors that can contribute to the problem, such as dust or smoke in the home and plastic food bowls.
- Genetics: In some cases, the tear stains might be the result of genetic factors such as shallow eye sockets, shorter noses, or even excess skin wrinkles around the face. As such, some dogs (like the Maltese, Bichon Frise, and Bulldog, for example) can be more predisposed to tear stains than others. Especially if they have white or light-colored coats.
- Health issues: There are numerous health-related issues that can either cause or worsen dog tear staining. For example, blocked tear drainage holes (puncta), ingrown hair and eyelashes, allergies, and infection (among other things) can cause dog tear stains.
That’s not an exclusive list of all the potential causes, but they are some of the more common factors. And because there are numerous potential causes, seeing a vet is the best way to know what the root cause of the staining is.
Consider Seeing Your Local Veterinarian
When it comes to treating the root cause of dog tear stains, the best solution of all is to visit a qualified veterinarian. There is no substitute for this.
Just because a dog has tear stains doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them. As mentioned, it can sometimes be due to genetics or environmental factors.
However, the good thing about seeing a vet is that you can rule out possible underlying health issues that may be causing the excess build-up of tears and staining in the first place.
Even if you try one of the products we’ve listed and find it works, generally speaking, those are mostly designed to treat the symptoms (i.e., tear stains) rather than the cause.
So it’s always a good idea to consult your vet before trying any product or home remedy, not just to address the underlying cause but also to find the best solution for your dog.
Dog tear stains are a nuisance, especially if your dog has a beautiful white coat. What’s more, it could be indicative of an underlying problem that your dog may be suffering from. And since they can’t speak, the tears may, in a sense, be letting you know that something’s going on.
Thankfully, there are some effective ways to rid your dog of those pesky stains. So, whether you decide to try one of the products I highlighted earlier, make your own home remedy, or speak to your vet about a more tailored solution, I hope you found this post helpful.
And if you’d like to share your experience in dealing with stains from dog tears or wrinkly skin, let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear about what’s worked best for you!