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Tear Staining in Dogs

What is tear staining and what causes it?

Often seen in small and toy breed dogs and more noticeable on those breeds with a lighter coloured coat. The tears from weepy eyes turn the fur a pinkish-brown colour. The fur can also be stained around the mouth (from the saliva) and it can also affect the paws if the dog is constantly licking and biting them.

It is not:

  • a breed problem
  • caused by narrow tear ducts
  • simply a cosmetic problem
What causes tear staining?

Tear and fur staining is caused by a build-up of excess waste toxins in the system, which is present in the body fluids (tears and saliva), staining the fur.

What can cause excess waste in the system?

– Lower quality food; unsuitable ingredients; chemical additives


– Overfeeding


– Excessive intake of protein and fat


– Food allergy or intolerance

How can diet help tear staining?

It is important to feed a natural, wholesome food, based on complex carbohydrates, that is low in fat and protein and free from additives (other than essential vitamins and minerals). Fed sparingly this can avoid build-up of toxic waste in the system which causes tear staining.

Food allergy or intolerance may also be a cause due to an increase in inflammation so feeding a hypoallergenic diet is important.

Top tips!

– Keep to the same diet for around 12 weeks unless we advise otherwise.


– Feed sparingly, weigh out the food, we often overestimate the needs of our smaller dogs.


– Cut out treats, dental chews, table scraps and fruit – vegetables are fine.


– Find the right food for your dog, one dog may not be suited to chicken but do well on duck, a potato or maize based diet may be more effective that rice.

Which diet should I choose for tear staining?

Most of our diets are potentially suitable but if you need help deciding here are some great options:


It can take at least 2 -3 months on a new food to see any changes in your dogs tear stains.

Speak to a Pet Nutritionist

No query is too small for our Nutrition Team, so please fire away!

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