Tear staining in dogs


  • Tear staining is brown, pink or red staining that runs from the corner of the eyes.
  • It’s a very common problem, especially in white coated breeds.
  • Book in to see your vet if your dog has recently developed tear staining, it’s often harmless but could be caused by an eye problem.


Tear staining is a common problem in short nosed dogs (because their eyes are often exposed and irritated), and also in dogs with lots of hair around their eyes and nose (because that hair irritates the front of the eye).

Remember, tear staining is not the same as having weepy eyes – contact your vet for an appointment ASAP if your dog has developed a weepy eye.

Tear staining in a Bichon Frise

Tear staining in a Bichon Frise.

How to reduce tear staining


Long hair around your dog’s eyes is likely rub the surface of the eye and cause irritation (especially when they are out in the wind). Keep hair around your dog’s eyes and nose trimmed short. Your vet, vet nurse or groomers can do this, or you can ask them to show to you how to trim the hair yourself.


Remove any dirt, tears or crust that has built up throughout the day. Use cotton wool pads soaked in plain warm water or eye wipes from your vets or online. Never use any wipes that aren’t meant for use around a dog’s eyes.

Published: March 2019

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.