Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Clean and Remove Dog Tear Stains in 5 Easy Steps

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

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

Tear stains come from your dog’s eyes tearing up and dripping down the inner corners of their eyes. It usually results in a brown stain around the bottom of their eyes. It’s called a stain because it’s usually difficult to clean. It can be irritating for pet owners because they aren’t completely avoidable and will usually pop back up regularly. But in this guide, we’ll teach you how to clean those tear stains from your dog’s eyes in 5 easy steps.

divider 9

Before You Start

Try to pinpoint what is causing their eyes to get tear stains. Is it something you can tend to, like an overgrowth of fur around their eyes? This can cause irritation and increase the volume of tears coming from their eyes. It might also be the result of the shape of their eyes or a previous eye infection that caused some type of scarring or irritation through the healing process.

If these tear stains are caused by a problem with their eyes, pinpointing what the problem is can help reduce them. But in some cases, tear stains are going to occur naturally and there won’t be any way to prevent them and you’ll just have to clean your dog’s eyes regularly.

This guide will cover the steps to clean dog tear stains with a few easy ingredients. Prepare for the process by grabbing some towels, a bowl of warm water, or a cleaning solution from a pet store or your vet.

Maltese dog with tear stains lying on the floor
Image Credit: Rushay, Shutterstock

divider 9

The 5 Steps to Clean Dog Tear Stains

1. Make Your Dog Comfortable

Before you start moving in on your dog’s face, let them know that everything is okay. They usually don’t like bath time and they might not like this process either, especially if it’s their first time. Keep some of their favorite treats nearby, grab one of their toys, and make sure that they aren’t backed into a corner. Making your dog comfortable will ensure that they are more comfortable the next time too.

Sad west highland white terrier dog cuddling teddy bear toy looking sideways
Image Credit: corners74,Shutterstock

2. Grab Towels or Cotton Pads

Make sure that your area is stocked with both dry towels and washcloths. You will most likely want to use a small towel or washcloth to clean their eyes. It makes it less intimidating when your dog can see that you aren’t going after their whole face with a large object. You can even use small cotton pads to wipe away their tear stains.

3. Prepare a Bowl of Warm Water

You will want to use warm water to clean up any cleaning solutions or to wipe around their eyes. Warm water is comfortable on the face and won’t make them jump back in fear of extreme temperatures. Even if you use another form of cleaning solution, you will need to rinse it off their face with water. If you have everything prepared before you start, it will be an easier process for both you and your dog.

hepper nom nom cat food bowl water

4. Choose Your Cleaning Solution

Whether you choose to use only water, or your vet has recommended a cleaning solution for their tear stains, it’s important to use the right products. For example, you don’t always need to apply some type of solution from a store to keep it maintained. There are also options to use apple cider vinegar or baby shampoo. Just dab the solution on the tear stains and gently wipe them off. Just be careful to keep the solution out of your dog’s eyes as much as possible.

High-quality wet wipes can help you keep your dog clean from head to tail. Our Hepper Wash Wipes are infused with natural, moisturizing ingredients that will soothe your dog's skin while effectively removing dirt and grime. These soft, hypoallergenic wipes are made in the USA and safe for dogs and puppies of all breeds.

Hepper Wash Wipes

5. Use Dry Towels to Wipe Around the Eyes

The last step in the process to clean tear stains from your dog’s eyes is to dry your dog’s face. Ensure that you have dry towels at the ready to wipe off any excess water or cleaning solution left on their face. You don’t want any water to dry up around their eyes and result in another cleaning session shortly after.

woman drying her wet dog with a towel

Divider 7

Final Thoughts

You can keep your dog’s eyes clear of tear stains by regularly cleaning around their eyes. Think about how you can keep your pet comfortable and clean around their eyes efficiently. Whether you decide to use warm water and a cloth, or you got a recommendation from your vet, it’s good to prepare yourself for the process. It might be an irritating form of maintenance, but you can keep the fur around their eyes short or check for any further eye irritations to help reduce tear stains in the future.

Featured Image Credit: Susan Schmitz, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database