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5 Best Dog Foods for Tear Stains of 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks 

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Closeup of Poodle dog with white fur and red tear stains_Susan Schmitz_shutterstock

You’ve got the most beautiful dog in the neighborhood, but he has unsightly tear stains that you just can’t get rid of. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and tear stains affect many dogs. But there is hope!

You might be surprised to learn that the food that you feed him can impact the severity of his tear stains. And here in this guide, we have five of the best dog foods to prevent tear stains, all complete with in-depth reviews.

There are so many foods out there claiming to be a tear-stain miracle. So, unless you have a degree in doggy health, it’s hard to know where to start. But we have saved you the grueling task, so you can spend less time trawling through hundreds of products and more time cuddling your gorgeous pooch.

We have also put together a buying guide. This way, you will feel confident about making the best nutritional decision for your dog and their tear-stain needs.

Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.
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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
FirstMate Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food FirstMate Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Premium recipe
  • Limited ingredient formula
  • Best Overall
    Second place
    Wellness Complete Health Adult Dry Dog Food Wellness Complete Health Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Great value
  • Easy to digest formula
  • Fish is full of omegas
  • Best for Puppies
    Third place
    Annamaet Grain-Free Aqualuk Dry Dog Food Annamaet Grain-Free Aqualuk Dry Dog Food
  • Ideal for puppy development
  • Easy to digest formula
  • Full of omega fats
  • Forza10 Nutraceutic Sensitive Tear Stain Plus Dry Dog Food Forza10 Nutraceutic Sensitive Tear Stain Plus Dry Dog Food
  • Made with tear-staining in mind
  • Uses hydrolyzed protein
  • Limited ingredient formula
  • Natural Balance L.I.D. Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Natural Balance L.I.D. Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • Limited ingredient formula
  • Single animal protein source
  • The 5 Best Dog Foods for Tear Stains

    1. FirstMate Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best Overall

    1FirstMate Chicken Meal with Blueberries Formula Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    This premium formula is made with all-natural ingredients, making it an easy-to-digest option as there are no artificial preservatives present. Chicken meal is the sole protein, making it simple for his digestive system to break down. Chicken meal is also the first ingredient, meaning it provides your pooch with high-quality meat protein and a protein content of 25%.

    This is a grain-free diet and instead uses potatoes as the main carbohydrate and energy provider.

    Blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries are listed, which offer various vitamins and minerals for an overall healthy oxidative state. There are also vitamin and mineral supplements added to the formula to make sure your dog gets everything they need from this kibble making it the best dog food for dogs with tear stains.

    This is by far the best kibble on this list because of its premium ingredients and simple formula that is easy to digest. The only downside to this kibble is that because it is a premium formula, it comes with a premium price tag. But, if you can stretch your budget slightly, this is an excellent option for reducing tear stains.

    If you have a toy pooch with a tiny mouth, this formula also comes in a “Small Bites” option.

    • All-natural ingredients
    • Premium recipe
    • Limited ingredient formula
    • Packed with vitamins
    • Premium price

    2. Wellness Complete Health Adult Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    2Wellness Complete Health Adult Whitefish & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

    This option is the best dog food for tear stains for the money, and it comes in a large bag too. Not only does this make it excellent value for money, but it also means that if you have more than one tear-stained dog, there is plenty to go around.

    The sole protein is fish, with whitefish as the first ingredient and fish meal following shortly after. It is full of omega fatty acids, which is excellent for his skin and coat health. It is full of a fantastic fishy taste that most dogs love too. This option focuses on complete health, making it ideal for his overall wellness, not just his tear staining. It uses gentle grains such as barley and oatmeal, so his stomach will not have to work hard to break it down.

    The only reason that this kibble did not make it to the number one spot is that it is not labeled as a tear stain-removing kibble. But it ticks all of the boxes, and the reviews state that it has improved their puppy’s tear stains. So, this is a tried and tested option.

    • Great value
    • Easy-to-digest formula
    • Fish is full of omegas
    • Grain inclusive option
    • Not specifically tear stain labeled

    3. Annamaet Grain-Free Aqualuk Dry Dog Food – Best for Puppies

    3Annamaet Grain-Free Aqualuk Cold Water Formula Dry Dog Food

    This option is our favorite for puppies because it is full of ingredients that provide docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) for their growing needs. Ingredients such as salmon meal and herring meal are full of the essential fats needed for his development stage and replicate the nutrients found in mothers’ milk.

    This option is suitable for all life stages too, so it’s not just for puppies. This is a premium product that provides completely natural and high-quality ingredients. It is easy to digest, thanks to the sole protein source, which is fish. It also lists a probiotic dried fermentation ingredient that will promote healthy gut bacteria to assist with healthy digestion.

    This is another grain-free option and uses prebiotic fibers such as peas, as well as potatoes, and chickpeas for his energy needs.

    The only criticism of this product is that it is a premium product and not suited to all budgets. But it is highly rated and labeled as a tear stain-removing product showing excellent results. It also has the highest fat content at 16%, which is great for growing pups, but not so great for dogs who are already overweight.

    • Ideal for puppy development
    • Easy-to-digest formula
    • Full of omega fats
    • Premium price
    • Highest fat content

    4. Forza10 Nutraceutic Sensitive Tear Stain Plus Dry Dog Food

    4Forza10 Nutraceutic Sensitive Tear Stain Plus Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    This product is designed with tear stain removal in mind, thanks to years of scientific research by veterinarians. The manufacturer states that it can take just two weeks to see great results, and it is highly rated too. It also offers the joint-highest protein content at 30%. This makes this an excellent option for energetic dogs who need energy and muscle maintenance power.

    Anchovy meal is the first ingredient, with pork meal and hydrolyzed salmon and fish protein. Hydrolyzed protein is gentler on digestive systems. It removes the common allergens and simply keeps the protein and amino acids. Vitamin and mineral supplements are listed, ensuring that your dog gets all the immune-boosting nutrients it needs. And it also lists exotic fruits such as melon, papaya, and pomegranate for an extra boost.

    This product does not list any probiotic ingredients, making this option less viable for those struggling with tear staining due to struggling digestive systems. This is why this product didn’t rank higher on our top-pick list.

    • Made with tear-staining in mind
    • Uses hydrolyzed protein
    • Limited ingredient formula
    • Premium price
    • No probiotic ingredients

    5. Natural Balance L.I.D. Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    5Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    This formula is a limited-ingredient recipe, making it an easy-to-digest kibble with struggling digestive systems in mind. The only protein source is venison, making it a clean formula. It also makes this an ideal pick for those dogs who are allergic to commonly used fish or chicken ingredients.

    Canola oil, flaxseed, and salmon oil provide omega fatty acids for your dog’s skin and coat health. A list of vitamins and minerals is also listed to help them fight against illness. This recipe has the lowest calorie count and fat content too. This means that if your four-legged bestie is overweight and needs to look after thier weight, this is the better option for him.

    Unfortunately, the first ingredient is not a meat ingredient, which is not ideal for many dogs’ nutritional needs. But, some dogs do much better on a low protein diet, making this the better option for pooches who also have tear stains.

    • Limited ingredient formula
    • Single animal protein source
    • First ingredient is not meat
    • No probiotic ingredients

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    Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Dog Food for Tear Stains

    Here in this section, we will teach you everything that you need to know about his tear stains, how you can reduce or eliminate them, and the link to food.

    What Are Tear Stains?

    Tear stains are unsightly reddish or brownish marks found beneath his eyes, looking like little red gooey streams. All dogs get eye boogers (sorry for the word, but it is what it is!), but some dogs excrete the reddish-brownish more than others.

    The tear stains are caused by a pigmented molecule that a dog’s body excretes as a waste product. This waste product is known as porphyrins, and it is the waste product of red blood cells. It contains iron, which is it is a dark reddish-brownish color.

    Most dogs excrete this waste product through the digestive system, but in some dogs, it is removed via urine, saliva, and tears. Darker coated dogs can get tear stains too, but it is more visible in dogs with brilliant white coats. Over time, it stains the white hair around their eyes, making it very difficult to remove.

    What Causes Tear Stains?

    Usually, tear stains are typically caused by an excessive amount of tears being produced or because the tears cannot drain away properly. It could just be the makeup of your dog’s face, or it could be a result of a medical concern that needs checking out.

    Glaucoma, conjunctivitis, ingrown eyelashes, entropion, and various eye infections can cause tear staining. And ear infections are also a common factor too. These all need veterinary intervention and treatment. So, if you notice tear staining, please take your pooch to the vet for a checkup.

    It could also be due to sensitivities, such as food or seasonal allergies, stress, exposure to irritants such as dust, or even teething during puppyhood. If you notice that the tear stains are more brown than red, and they are odorous, your dog is likely suffering from a yeast infection.

    Most Affected Dog Breeds

    Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to tear stains, and these are usually smaller dogs with long hair on their face. Many smaller dogs have flatter faces, shallower eye sockets, and bulging eyes. This means that they do not have the normal tear-draining function compared to other dogs.

    Dog breeds most commonly affected by tear staining are:
    • Maltese
    • Bichon Frise
    • West Highland Terriers
    • Lhasa Apsos
    • Shih Tzus
    • Pugs
    • Toy Poodles
    • Pekingnese
    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

    How Do I Get Rid of Tear Stains?

    There are many remedies to get rid of tear stains, but it depends on what the cause is. If it is because of an infection or ingrown eyelashes, he will need treatment or surgery.

    If your dog is just susceptible to them, the three best things you can do to stop it are daily cleansing with a cotton bud and clean, warm water, and keep the hair around their eyes trimmed. And the third one is to change his diet to a better one, which is what we are going to focus on here.

    The Nutrition and Tear Stain Connection

    A low-quality diet is linked to tear stains, and it is a more common cause than people think. A poorer quality diet can put extra stress on his little digestive system. Making it work harder, which in turn increases the toxins and waste products that his body needs to get rid of. One of them is porphyrins, which is the cause of tear staining.

    Thankfully, changing your dog’s diet to a better one will not just decrease their tear stains, but it will also improve their overall health and happiness. And over the long run, spending a few extra dollars every month could also save you higher vet bills in the long run, so it is a great value option too.

    Let’s take a look at what you can look for when searching for a better kibble for his tear stains.

    Selective focus of a dog's side view face_Jill Gulles_Shutterstock
    Image Credit: Jill Gulles, Shutterstock

    Good Quality Nutrition

    Look for a premium kibble that provides a well-balanced diet. A well-balanced diet includes meat protein, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for a premium kibble, but you do have to pay a higher price than budget store kibbles.

    Always look for a kibble that abides by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) pet food guidelines. They have a seal of approval label, and all high-quality kibbles will have this on their packaging.

    Budget store kibbles will often have low meat content, hard-to-digest fillers, and artificial preservatives and colors. All of which causes havoc with doggy digestive systems. So, avoid these.

    Easy to Digest

    Because tear staining is often a result of excess toxins caused by a hard-to-digest diet, look for a kibble that emphasizes that it is easy to digest. Look for kibbles with prebiotic fibers, such as sweet potato, pumpkin, beet pulp, and chicory root.

    Probiotic ingredients are also essential. Ingredients such as dried bacillus acidophilus and other fermented ingredients promote friendly bacteria in his gut and assist his gastrointestinal tract function.

    Some formulas use limited ingredients, which make it much easier for your dog’s digestive system to process. They usually contain all of the things that he needs and nothing that he doesn’t. These are usually labeled as limited ingredient formulas.

    Consider His Needs

    Always remember to focus on your dog’s needs. Just because a food is labeled as a limited ingredient or a tear stain removal formula does not mean that it will be the right one for you.

    Many other sources on the internet suggest that you must feed your pup a grain-free formula to remove tear stains, but this is simply not true. Some dogs do much better on a gain-inclusive diet, and by taking this away from them, it can make it harder for them to digest their food.

    Some dogs have intolerances. And some dogs simply prefer certain meat flavors too, so it’s essential to find a recipe that your dog can eat and likes.

    If he has a weight problem, you will be better off finding a recipe that has a lower calorie and fat content. Many recipes suggested for tear stain removal are often high in omega fats. Although omega fats are healthy fats, you will want to decrease them to control any weight gain. So, always look for a recipe that suits your dog.

    Divider 2Conclusion

    Overall, it’s essential to determine the root cause of your dog’s tear staining, and this can only be done by a vet. Some dogs, however, no matter what you do to help them, will always suffer from tear staining. And this is where good quality nutrition steps in because it can help to reduce it significantly.

    Hopefully, we’ve made the world of tear staining clearer, and now you not only understand, but you have found a product in our list that suits you and your pup. Our top overall pick is the FirstMate Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. And the best value for money pick is the Wellness Complete Health Adult Dry Dog Food.

    By choosing from one of our top picks for reducing tear staining, you can be sure that not only will it reduce the unsightly stains, but it can improve his health overall.

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