Keeping a dog on a hygiene regimen is part of great pet care, and that can mean anything from regular bathing, trips to the groomer, or even just a wipe-down from time to time. For some pets who produce excessive amounts of tears, stains can form when left untreated, which can not only make a dog or cat appear unkempt but can build up and irritate or even hurt them. Fortunately, there are a number of products out there designed to both remove existing tear stains on dogs and cats, and in some instances, prevent pets from tearing up quite so much. While tearing can happen with any dog or cat, common types of pets who deal with chronic tear staining include Maltese and Shih Tzu dogs, as well as any pet with brachycephalic (or short-nosed) head shapes, which can sometimes cause the eyes to bulge. Tear stain removers come in a variety of formulas, including wipes, shampoos, and supplements.
What to consider when purchasing a tear stain remover for your dog or cat
Cause: Before you begin the process of removing or even preventing tear stains on your dog or cat, you should understand the underlying cause of the issue to get the best results without causing undue harm or irritation to your pet. Often, tear stains are caused by food or environmental allergies, other issues that affect the head and face like teething or ear infections, irritated or jammed tear ducts, and even the shape of your dog's eyes. Tear stain removers can address issues regardless of the cause, but preventing tears from forming, when possible, will be the most comfortable for your pet.
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Method: There are many ways to get stubborn tear stains off of the fur around your dog's eyes and face. Wipes and shampoos are common options, as are other liquid treatments like lotions and drops. Some people prefer to offer their pets tear stain preventatives systemically, through chewy supplements offered as treats or via powder sprinkled onto their food or in their water. Your method of choice will ultimately be up to your pet, and their tolerance levels for having their faces handled should be considered when choosing the right one.
Hair Color: Tear stains and build-up can affect pets of all kinds. Commonly, dogs and cats with light-colored fur and hair on their faces seem to be the most affected by tear staining, only because it's so apparent on them. If you do have a light-haired dog and wish to include tear stain removal into their hygiene regimen, it may be worth considering a treatment designed to work on light hair specifically for the best results.
Skin Sensitivity: As with any topical solution, tear stain removal can have adverse effects on some pets, although it is unlikely. Tear stain removal products are usually formulated to be gentle (after all, it is used around the eyes, nose, and mouth), but if your pet has especially sensitive skin you might want to look for an option that's pH balanced or made with ingredients meant to condition irritated skin and hair, like aloe or vitamin E.
The best tear stain remover facial cleanser
If you want to remove stains right, treating your dog with a cleansing shampoo will be your best bet at achieving a clean face. Made with plant-based coconut cleansers, this is a gentle, soap-free formula that moisturizes the skin and coat with vitamin E. People tend to love the blueberry-vanilla scent this one comes in, and if you have a light-haired pet this is a great option as it brightens the coat without causing irritation. To use, just apply the product to the affected area, let it sit for about three minutes, then wipe it away with warm water and repeat as needed.
The best tear stain remover wipes
Sometimes, you can't always sit down with your dog or cat and give them a full bath, even with a face full of stains. Then again, some people may not have all that much staining to contend with, and could just use a wet wipe to clean their pet's face. Whatever the case, if you're looking for easy-to-use wipes for your pet, these pre-soaked eye wash pads are formulated to remove tear stains without irritating the skin or your pet's tear ducts. Made with boric acid, this saline formula is safe to use several times a day if needed, and has been used by veterinarians and groomers since 1961.
The best tear stain supplements
Not looking to hold your pet down and apply treatments to their skin or wipe their faces off with a wet wipe? No worries! Many pet caretakers prefer to tackle their pet's tear-staining problem from the inside out with supplements formulated to prevent tearing from occurring in the first place. These supplements are safe for dogs and cats and contain herbs, vitamins, and omega fatty acids to promote healthy eyes and reduce tearing. An all-around immune booster, this supplement, when given regularly, lubricates the mucous membranes for healthy tear flow and minimal build-up.
The best all-natural tear stain remover
If you have a pet with sensitive skin, looking for a tear stain remover that won't further irritate their faces is essential if you want to keep stains away in the long term. Always gentle, Burt's Bees uses chamomile extract and dandelion extract in their tear stain remover to eliminate stains without harming your pet's face. This product is pH balanced, meaning it won't disrupt the acid mantle on your pet's skin, which can lead to irritation and skin discomfort. It can be used daily, and there's no need to rinse it away after application—simply give it a shake, apply some to a cotton pad, and wipe away tears.
The best anti-inflammatory tear stain remover
All dogs produce tears, it's a part of having healthy eyes. Some dogs end up with stains on their faces because they either produce too many tears, or their faces aren't designed to help those tears roll away naturally (this is especially true with short-nosed dogs or dogs with folds in their facial skin). Using boric acid, this product reduces inflammation around the eyes, which not only brings puffiness down but also prevents the tear ducts from becoming clogged, which can lead to crust or runny build-up around the eyes. This is meant to be an ongoing treatment offered to your dog or cat once or twice a week, and works best when given regularly over time. Additionally, it inhibits the growth of bacteria thanks to silver ions used in its formula and heals wounded skin with panthenol, which makes it a great option for anyone whose pet has suffered serious discomfort from their tear production.
The best tear stain remover comb
Not everyone will need a liquid tear stain remover to keep their pet's face in smooth, dry shape. Sometimes, a comb is all that's needed to keep tears from building up on the fur and staining the face. Like regular washing and wiping around the eye area, regular combing is a very effective way of keeping dried tears and mucus from building up on the fur. This fine-tooth stainless steel comb is designed to be gentle, meaning it won't tug or pull on hair or fur that's already heavy with fluid, and if your pet will tolerate it, can make a soothing, stain-reducing ritual for your dog or cat to enjoy.