How do I remove tear stains?  This is a common question from Lhasa Apso owners.  We recommend a veterinarian visit to rule out health concerns, and three simple grooming practices at the bottom of this page, to remove and help prevent those ugly stains.  

Rule Out Medical Concerns

Those reddish-brown or dark brown stains often seen under eyes, around the mouth, sometimes on the feet and/or genitals can be caused by a number of things.  They're usually noticed on light colored dogs but present on any color fur and can be a symptom of a more serious health problem.  It's important to have a veterinarian look at your dog to rule out things, such as:

  • Ingrown eyelashes - ectopic cilia or eyelashes growing toward the eye
  • Yeast infection - brown stains often accompanied by an unpleasant odor
  • Insufficient tear drainage
  • Excessive tearing - often due to abnormally narrow or crooked tear ducts
  • Dry eye - Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) causes red, inflamed or itchy eyes with a thick discharge 
  • Poor diet, stress, teething, medications and injury are other common reasons for excessive tearing
  • Plastic food bowls can also harbor bacteria 

It's best to have a veterinarian rule these things out as you can't wash away these issues.  After ruling these things out there are some preventative measures you can take, but first let's get a good understanding.

    Understand What Causes Staining

    Tear stains are usually caused by dye molecules called porphyrins.  Porphyrins are naturally occurring molecules containing iron. Porphyrins exist from the body's natural breaking down of red blood cells and are present in urine, saliva and tears.  It is these iron porphyrins which become trapped and deposited on the fur which cause the staining.  Furthermore, exposing iron to sunlight then darkens the coloring, which worsens the issue. All dogs produce prophyrin, but of course it's more noticeable when it's staining a light color or white fur.

    If you've ever noticed a dog with rust colored feet (or genitals), it's often a result of licking in these areas.  It's presence in the saliva is why it's commonly found on the mustache or around the mouth of the dog as well.  The constant licking causes the iron to deposit in these areas, the same as it does with your dogs eyes.

    Yeast is another cause for staining and is from a bacteria infection.  This type of staining is usually more brownish than red or pink and has an unpleasant odor.  Most times this is secondary to poor grooming maintenance, from an owner who does not clean the eyes often enough.  It's the same with ear hairs that remain wet and cause painful yeast infections from dogs which have not had their ears properly groomed.  Yeast is like a mold or mushroom which blooms in moist environments and cannot be washed away.

    Brown stains from wet fur growing a yeast infection and the red staining from porphyrins depositing iron are two different problems, which is why oral supplements aimed at reducing porphyrin production will not work in all dogs. 

    Some supplements are designed to combat yeast as well as porphyrin production, so they can boast great results.  These supplements contain antibiotics.  Taking antibiotics too often or for the wrong reasons can change bacteria so much that an antibiotic resistance forms.  This is why many times a dog who has taken them for years with great results suddenly has no benefit from the use and the stains return.  

    While we do use an oral daily supplement we do not use of one with antibiotics.  Most popular commercial tear stain products, including Angels' Eyes, Angels' Glow and Pets Spark contain the antibiotic tylosin tartrate, which is not approved for use in dogs.  We also do not recommend using terramycin, makeup remover, hydrogen peroxide, or any other home remedy concoctions on your dog's eyes!

    What Can You Do?

    Three things will cure most dog's eye stain issues.  

    1. Using a filtered water which is free of minerals.  This can be filtered water from your refrigerator or bottled water.  We use both, but make sure your refrigerator filter is changed regularly if you use only this source.
    2. Cleaning under the eyes with ordinary contact lens cleaning solution (contains dilute boric acid, that oxidizes the iron in the porphyrins and lightens the color).  This will help keep eyes cleaner without harming your dogs eyes should some get inside.  We use Baush & Lomb ReNu soft contact lens cleaner on a cotton pad or soft toothbrush, to gently clean with.  It's the same thing as the commercial tear stain cleaning solutions without the hefty price tag.  Pour the solution onto the toothbrush the same as you would toothpaste and then gently use this to comb below the eyes and around the mouth.  Leave the solution to dry on the hair.  We have also tried the Always Bright Eyes solution and powder cleansing program with great success but not on a colored coat (for white hair only).
    3. Taking a daily oral supplement - probiotic which does not contain antibodies.  You can add a 1/4 tsp. of Miracle Eyes Chicken Formula powder to one meal daily if your food does not contain a probiotic (BJ's Premium Raw Blend does include probiotics).

    Miracle Eyes is an oral remedy for dogs that helps to reduce tear stains. 100% natural, Miracle Eyes is a probiotic powder formula that restores good bacteria. 


    • Free From Antibiotics, Preservatives And Artificial Flavors 
    • Formulated With Cranberry Extract, Lactobacillus Acidophilus And Hyaluronic Acid 
    • Natural Formula For Reducing Tear Stains 
    • Available In Beef, Chicken And Veggie Flavors 
    • Safe For Cats And Dogs Over 8 Weeks Of Age

    Hopefully this helps you not only to have a beautiful dog, but to understand how important it is to rule out health concerns, use proper grooming practices and how to help prevent those ugly stains.