Best Dog Tear Stain Removers

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
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469 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best dog tear stain removers

Last Updated September 2019

All dogs can develop staining around the eyes caused by tears, but this common condition is more prevalent in some breeds. It’s also much more noticeable on pooches with light-colored coats. While tear stains are typically the result of normal secretions, they can sometimes indicate something more serious. If your best friend frequently has tear stains, your first step should be to pay a visit to the veterinarian to rule out a health problem.

Dog tear stain removers contain ingredients that remove stains gently and effectively and make the fur around the eyes brighter. When a dog tear stain remover is used as a regular part of your dog’s grooming routine, you can prevent the substances in tears from building up and causing stains in the first place.

Our buying guide is stocked with everything you need to know about choosing and using dog tear stain removers. For our five favorite tear stain removers, see the matrix above.

Not only are dog tear stains unsightly, but they can also contain bacteria that could lead to eye infections. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a tear stain remover as part of your dog’s grooming routine even if a dark coat disguises the stains.

About dog tear stains

Why do dog tears leave stains?

Dog tears contain a pigment called porphyrin that results in stains around the eyes. Porphyrin is also secreted in other bodily fluids, including urine and saliva. Although all dogs have porphyrin in their secretions, some dogs produce more than others. And while the staining caused by this pigment is likely to go unnoticed on dogs with dark-colored coats, it is very noticeable on fur that is light in color.

Why are some dogs more prone to tear stains?

If your dog often has dark tear stains, it’s most likely due to genetics. Several small, light-colored breeds are more prone to developing tear stains, including shih tzus, Lhasa apsos, Maltese, Havanese, poodles, bichon frises, and West Highland white terriers. Some dogs with short noses, or brachycephalic breeds, are also highly susceptible to tear stains because the shape of their faces causes tears to pool. These breeds include pugs, English bulldogs, boxers, and French bulldogs.

Are dog tear stains ever an indication of a medical condition?

Although dog tear stains are usually nothing serious, there are some health issues that can lead to tear stains. That’s why it’s important to have a veterinarian rule out any serious causes of tear stains before you use a stain remover.

Here are some medical conditions that can lead to dog tear stains:

  • Tear duct problems can lead to clogged ducts, resulting in abnormal tear flow.

  • Environmental allergies to pollen, dust, or dirt can lead to tear stains. Some dogs even develop tear stains due to an allergic reaction caused by drinking from plastic bowls.

  • Drinking water that has high levels of iron can cause tear stains.

  • Eyelids that roll inward, causing the lashes to irritate the eyes, can lead to tear stains. This is particularly common in breeds with loose skin like Chinese shar-peis.

  • Infections caused by bacteria or yeast can cause tear stains.

EXPERT TIP

If you have a breed that’s prone to tear stains, it’s a good idea to use more than one type of dog tear stain remover. Many liquids can be followed up with powders to enhance the results.


Staff  | BestReviews

Key considerations

Dog tear stain removers are available in four different types: liquids, pastes, powders, and wipes. There are pros and cons to using each type, and certain varieties are better suited to different stain removal goals.

Liquid dog tear stain removers

Dog tear stain removers are most commonly found in liquid form. These products are versatile and easy to use, although they can be a bit messy. Formulated to remove stubborn stains, all you have to do is squirt a liquid stain remover on a cotton pad, tissue, or cloth and wipe the stained area. Another benefit of liquid dog tear stain removers is that even though some specialty brands can be pricey, typically a little goes a long way.

Paste dog tear stain removers

You don’t have to worry about dog tear stain removers in paste form dripping, but they can be challenging to spread evenly, especially on dogs that don’t like to sit still. They are made with ingredients like plant-based oils that moisturize, which makes pastes perfect for dogs that have irritated skin. The thick consistency also makes these products great for dogs with facial folds, like Chinese shar-peis and English bulldogs.

Powder dog tear stain removers

Powder dog tear stain removers usually can’t remove tough stains on their own, but they can add to the results when used with other dog tear stain removers. That’s because they reduce moisture, which in turn wards off future staining.

Dog tear stain remover wipes

If you want the easiest dog tear stain remover to use, then you should give wipes a try. Wipes are disposable pads or cloths infused with dog tear stain remover. Containers may include 60, 90, or more wipes, and most brands are quite affordable. However, you may have to use multiple wipes each time, so they may not last as long as liquid dog tear stain removers.

Many dog tear stain removers can also be used on cats, which is particularly useful for breeds like Persians and Himalayans that are especially prone to tear stains.

Staff
BestReviews

Features

Ingredients

Dog tear stain removers have to be tough enough to remove gunk and stains while also being gentle enough to use around the delicate eye area. Here are some common ingredients to look for in dog tear stain removers:

  • Glycerin: loosens and softens dried debris and makes for easy application

  • Minerals: natural stain removers

  • Plant-based oils and extracts: condition fur and soothe skin

  • Boric acid: a mild antiseptic that’s safe to use around the eyes

  • Petroleum: soothes skin and makes debris easy to wipe away

  • Water: serves as a base for the other ingredients

Application

The method you use to apply a dog tear stain remover depends on the type you choose. Most liquid dog tear stain removers come in bottles with pointed nozzles. You squirt the product onto a cotton pad or cloth for applying to your dog’s eye area.

While wipes are all-in-one products, it’s easiest to apply pastes and powders with your fingertips or small makeup brushes. Some brands even include brush applicators with your purchase.

Accessories

  • Dog shampoo: It’s best to start the grooming process with a quality dog shampoo that will remove dirt, debris, excess oil, and odors.

  • Dog conditioner: Applying a conditioner for dogs following shampoo will leave your dog’s coat soft and manageable.

  • Dog grooming table: If you groom your dog frequently or have several dogs to groom, a grooming table will provide easy access as you work.

  • Dog brush: Using a brush that is designed especially for dogs will keep fur soft, shiny, and free of tangles.

Dog tear stain remover prices

Dog tear stain removers range in price from as low as $4 to as much as $50.

Powders and wipes tend to be less expensive, ranging from about $7 to $10. You can find basic liquid dog tear stain removers for $4 to $15, while premium liquid formulas cost $20 to $50. Pastes are somewhat specialized, so expect to pay about $15 to $25 per tube.

Some brands offer kits with several products, like both liquid and powder stain removers along with applicators. Although kits can be costly, about $35 to $45, you get a lot for the price.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dog tear stain removers can also be used to remove stains around the muzzle and hindquarters.

Tips

  • Some dogs develop a hardened, embedded substance in the fur where tear stains form. Try using a small comb or eyebrow comb to gently work through this material.

  • Give your dog a bath before using a tear stain remover. This will clean the fur and remove excess buildup around the eyes, making the stain remover more effective.

  • To achieve the best results and ensure the safety of your pet, always follow the directions that come with the dog tear stain remover.

  • If your dog is prone to major staining, you may need to reapply a tear stain remover after the initial application. Frequent use may also be necessary to keep the area around your dog’s eyes stain-free.

Other products we considered

We found a few other products that do a good job tackling or preventing tough tear stains. The Eye Envy Powder Tear Stain Remover is a powder that’s made to be used with a liquid remover to enhance the effects. When dabbed around the eye area after a liquid stain remover, it repels tears, deters bacteria, and puts up a barrier against future staining. The Frisco Moisturizing Tear Stain Wipes are affordable and simple to use. Infused with organic aloe, these wipes are moisturizing and free from harsh fragrances that can be irritating to sensitive eyes and skin. If you prefer a liquid formula, the Bodhi Dog Tear Stain Remover is non-toxic, formulated without harsh chemicals or artificial ingredients, and includes soothing lavender and lemongrass oils that moisturize as they target stains. Repeat customers also love the pleasant scent and how well this solution removes hardened gunk.

Don’t get discouraged if a dog tear stain remover doesn’t remove all the staining with the first application. Some tough stains require repeated treatment before they completely fade away.

FAQ

Q. Can I use a dog tear stain remover even though my dog has very sensitive eyes?

A. Yes, quality dog tear stain removers are made of gentle ingredients that won’t irritate sensitive eyes or skin. If you’re concerned that your dog is particularly sensitive, choose a dog tear stain remover with all-natural ingredients.

Q. How can I get my dog used to having the eye area cleaned with a tear stain remover?

A. Start by petting your dog’s face and reassuring him verbally. Slowly introduce a tear stain remover by using a soft tissue or cloth to wipe gently around his eyes. Give him a break if he gets nervous, and most of all, be patient. Chances are he’ll get used to the process.

Q. Do I need to remove my dog’s tear stains even though they don’t seem to bother her?

A. Yes, because these stains can build up, become hard and clumped, and harbor bacteria that can lead to infections. You don’t have to aim for aesthetic perfection, but using a tear stain remover will help your dog avoid potential problems.

Q. My dog has long fur and tends to develop clumps of debris in the tear stains. How can I prevent this from happening?

A. If your dog has a long coat, keeping the fur around the eyes trimmed will make it easier to remove tear stains. Just be extremely careful when trimming near the eyes, or take your dog to a professional groomer.

The team that worked on this review
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    Devangana
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    Eliza
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    Enid
    Editor
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
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    Jennifer
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  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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