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Why Poodles Have Tear Stains: + How To Clean Them

Unfortunately, Poodles and many other small breeds frequently suffer from eye tear staining. Many owners have a hard time removing these stains but often miss out on a few important initial steps.

This article explains how to safely clean eye tear stains from your poodle, leaving her eyes and surrounding area gleaming.


What Are Eye Tear Stains On Poodles?

Eye stains are discolored patches around the eyes. Some stains can be small and others can be quite large. Similar colorings/stains can be found around the mouth and even on the paws.

Eye stains are considerably more noticeable on poodles with white fur, compared to those with dark fur. But stains can develop regardless of fur color. Most stains are usually dark reddish/brown in color but can come in a variety of tones, shapes, and sizes.

Why Do Poodles Get Eye Tear Stains?

Eye staining happens due to having excessively watery eyes or otherwise known as eye tearing. The constant moisture (saline) around the eyes is what eventually causes the discoloration.

Saline contains many different minerals like Iron and Magnesium that are responsible for the eventual discoloration.

Additionally, constant moisture around the eyes can lead to bacteria growth which then leads to further redness and irritation. Although this doesn’t always happen, it’s another cause for discoloration.

So what causes watery eyes (eye tearing)?
Dietary issues (malnutrition or food intolerances)
Unfiltered tap water
Tear duct blockage
Issues with eyelids/lashes/fur
Ear infections
Other health issues

The most common out of that list are allergies, dietary issues, and close hair that irritates the eye.

However, due to there being a number of reasons that are hard to identify yourself, like tear duct blockages and underlying health issues, it’s necessary to first take your Poodle to your veterinarian to rule all health issues out. You are then left with things that you have control over.

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The Best Way To Remove Eye Tear Stains From Poodles

Let’s run through the only two steps you need to know to have beautiful stain-free poodle eyes once again.

1. Find The Root Cause of The Watery Eyes

Please don’t skip this step! The reason why most owners have trouble removing the eye stains, or at least only have initial success, is because the root cause is not addressed.

If you don’t find out why your Poodle has watery eyes, to begin with, then it doesn’t matter what you do next, as the stains will always reappear. I can’t stress enough how important it is to rectify this first.

Rule out health issues

Have a veterinarian rule out health issues and check for tear-duct blockages and other problems that may be causing watery eyes.

Consider allergies

Allergies can be caused by a variety of issues and often display many other symptoms aside from watering eyes. Your veterinarian will also be able to assist in this area.

Allergies can come from things like dusty environments, pollen, certain fabric conditioners or washing powders, perfumes, deodorants, or it can be a dietary allergy.

One thing that’s particularly good for environmental or airborne allergens are HEPA air filters. You can get standalone units that slowly filter the air throughout your entire home, removing nearly all airborne allergens.

HEPA vacuum cleaners are also very popular nowadays too. They effectively clean your carpets and hard floors by removing allergens as well as just dust and physical dirt.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to narrow down specific allergens, and makes the visit to your veterinarian even more necessary.

Consider switching kibbles

Dietary issues are another common cause of watery eyes. Whether it’s from malnutrition or from a specific intolerance to an ingredient, a change of kibble may be necessary.

Grain-free diets are the center of big debate, and there are reasons both for and against them. Most dog foods are already grain-free and that’s what I suggest here, grain-free kibbles often digest much easier and contain fewer irritants than non-grain-free kibbles.

Always opt for reputable brands like Orijen, Acana, Merricks, Wellness, and Taste of The Wild.

You may also try a limited ingredient kibble as they often digest much easier due to having fewer ingredients. A huge benefit of limited ingredient kibbles is that they are made for dogs with sensitive stomachs, and therefore leave out many common allergens and suspect ingredients.

Filter your poodle’s drinking water

This changes depending on where you are, but you would be surprised to know that most tap water in the USA (affecting over 100 million Americans) has hundreds of known carcinogens, irritants, and chemicals in it.

Some specific elements contained in tap water have a very high mineral content, which then affects the saline make-up in your poodle’s tears. This has a direct effect on tear stains.

Considering how many contaminants are in tap water, it’s better to fill your poodle’s water bowl with filtered water.

CAREFULLY Trim the hair around your poodle’s eyes

Sometimes the hair around your poodle’s eyes will grow long and poke into the eye. Hairs like this need to be removed as soon as possible, but you must of course be extremely careful with scissors or trimming scissors.

It’s very risky to use scissors around the eye area so unless your poodle remains perfectly still and you are comfortable at making the cut, it’s best to hire a groomer to do it for you.

2. Use a Reputable Stain Remover

This is what most owners try first, and consequently, miss out on everything I just mentioned above! That’s also the reason why the tear stains consistently come back.

The two most common ways to remove stains:

Eye stain remover wipes
Eye stain remover liquid

Eye stain remover WIPES are a must, and they do a great job at clearing stains fast, so I strongly recommend getting some. I prefer the ones from HAPIPET (Amazon). They are gentle, non-irritating eye wipes that help to clean around the eye and slowly remove the stain. These wipes work well and do not use any harsh chemicals.

Give your poodle’s eyes a wipe in the morning and evening, be gentle, but be thorough.

Eye stain remover LIQUID can be used alongside wipes. My favorite solution is from TropiClean (Amazon). Their solution uses a combination of natural ingredients like coconut, vanilla, kiwi, and vitamin E to gently cleanse and remove stains. Many owners have excellent results with this product so check it out!

Please remember, you may see initial results by using wipes and solutions, but if the root cause isn’t addressed, tear staining will forever be an issue.

Home Remedies Safe or Unsafe?

There are many home remedies or “concoctions” you can mix together in order to remove stains.

From corn starch, boric acid, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar solutions, and the list continues.

The different variations of solutions that you can make all have their own potential hazards and so it’s best to just avoid them from the beginning.

The eye area of your poodle is extremely delicate and you don’t want to risk getting chemicals in your poodle’s eye! That would be a life-changing disaster.

Stick to tested products that are gentle and contain no harsh chemicals. They are very reasonably priced so there’s no reason to try making your own solution.

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When To Visit Your Veterinarian

If after having tried removing the initial cause, and using various wipes and solutions you still can’t budge the stains, then it’s time to consult your veterinarian once again.

Your veterinarian will be able to help with further tests as well as prescribed medication if necessary.

It’s important to visit your veterinarian in the beginning to A) let them know your poodle has eye stains, to begin with, and B) rule out health conditions. Plus your veterinarian will provide further help on potential causes including allergies.

Thank you for reading! I hope this article will help you resolve those pesky eye stains. If you have further questions, feel free to message me!

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.