Dogs and Tear Stains (cont.)

3. Can the dog eye problems that cause tear stains be treated?

It depends on the condition leading to excessive tearing. There is no way to stop dog eye discharge because of shallow eye sockets, so the goal in this situation is to minimize skin irritation and coat discoloration.

If your dog's tear stains are developing because his eyes are always irritated, eliminating the source of irritation will help. This might include keeping hair near the eyes trimmed very short and treating infection or glaucoma, if present.

There are surgical options for certain eyelid or eyelash problems that can restore normal tear drainage and eliminate overflow onto the face.

4. What can I do to get rid of my dog's tear stains?

Although those reddish-brown stains can be stubborn, there are certain remedies that may minimize their appearance. These include:

  • Antibiotics. The antibiotics tetracycline and tylosin are sometimes used to address tear staining, as they reduce or eliminate the likelihood that tear stains will form. There are concerns about the use of antibiotics for this purpose on an ongoing basis, however, because it could lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria, which would be far more dangerous to your pup than a few unsightly stains.
  • Whitening products. Swabbing the stains with hydrogen peroxide or using special grooming products designed for pet fur may help with tear stains.
  • Regular washing of your dog's face.


Veterinary Information Network Web site, “Runny eyes (epiphora).

American Animal Hospital Association, “How can I remove the white stains around my white dog’s eyes and mouth?

American Animal Hospital Association, “Shih-tzu.”

Yi NY, et al, “Medial canthoplasty for epiphora in dogs: A retrospective study of 23 cases,” J Am Anim Hosp Assoc, 2006; 42:pp 435-439.

Merck Veterinary Manual: “Nasolacrimal and Lacrimal Apparatus.”

Veterinary Information Network Web site, “Tylosin.”