Tear Stains

Everyone agrees tear stains are not very attractive. They can make your pet look sad and sickly. Tear stains are most commonly a problem for dogs but cats can be afflicted with this unsightly problem too. What causes tear stains and what can a dog or cat owner do?

There can be many reasons for why your pet is afflicted with this condition. The causes can range from blocked tear ducts, eye diseases, parasites, food allergies, abnormally shaped eyes to genetic predisposition.

The most common cause for tear staining is the pet's eyes are tearing in excess, a condition called epiporha. This makes the hair around the eyes very damp and the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. Red yeast is attributed to cause the staining as it produces a reddish brown discoloration on the facial hair. This staining is not only unsightly but also may be very irritating to your pet and emit a moderate to noticeably strong odor.

What can you do?


First, make an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure the staining isn't being caused by a variety of other causes. Unfortunately, there are some pets genetically predisposed to excessive tearing because of how their eyes are made. If this is the case, there is little that can be done. Your veterinarian will want to make sure the staining isn't due to an underlying health problem.


Excess tearing can be a response to irritation. Parasites such as fleas and ear mites can be the source of this irritation. Fleas need moisture and your pet's tears provide the perfect solution to satisfy their need and flea dirt around the eyes can cause a brown discoloration of the hair. Ear mites, a common invader of cat's and dog's ears, cause infection which can also lead to excess tearing. Checking and treating for parasites on a regular basis will help prevent many health issues.


Dust or other allergens can irritate your pet's eyes and cause them to water. Dust and airborne allergens can be controlled with air purifiers. Allergies can also be attributed to what your pet is eating. Artificial food colorings (dyes), artificial food additives and preservatives, cereals such as wheat can cause allergies in cats and dogs. Signs of allergies are face rubbing, licking of front paws, head shaking, and ear inflammations. Water minerals can also add to tear staining. Consider using bottled or filtered water in a stainless steel bowl.


Clean your pet's eyes regularly. You can start by cleaning the area around the eye twice daily with cotton balls soaked in warm water. Use one cotton ball per eye and make sure you wash your hands first before touching your pet's eyes. There are also many great eye care products on the market to help relieve eye irritation and infection. Another way to keep this area healthy and stain free is to keep the fur just below the eye clipped short. You can do this yourself with a trimmer designed especially for this purpose or visit a professional groomer.


It is being discovered that good intestinal health can be the answer to many problems including tear staining. These all-natural probiotic products put good bacteria and enzymes into the stomach and colon to improve not just digestive issues but support a healthy immune system and overall health.


Supplements like Angel's Eyes, Tear Stain Supplement and Pet-A-Zyme I-Stain eliminate tear stains from the inside out. Combine these products with proper grooming and the stains will disappear and the new hair will grow in clean. VET BASICS® ChlorConazole Wipes will also assist in eliminating tear stains caused by red yeast.

Tear stains can be caused by many different issues. Finding the cause will help you prevent the tear stains from reappearing after you have successfully eliminated them.

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-The Revival Education Team

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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