What causes the red staining under my dog’s eyes?

Tear stains are more apparent on white dogs

Have you ever wondered what causes those unsightly red tear stains around the eyes of certain dogs? Watery eyes, known as “epiphora,” is fairly common in dogs, and may be caused by either an excessive production of tears or failure of the tears to drain properly. Epiphora is more common in certain breeds, especially brachycephalic breeds with short noses, and is most obvious in dogs with white fur where the staining is more visible.

Your dog’s tears contain an organic compound known as porphyrins which react with light to cause the characteristic staining. Porphyrins are also in your dog’s saliva, which is why you may see the red staining around your dog’s mouth, and also on the paws of dogs that tend to lick their feet. When the fur around the eyes stays moist, it can also lead to the growth of yeast and bacteria.  Ptyrosporin, commonly known as “red yeast” also causes the familiar reddish-brown staining, and may result in a bad odor.

If your dog has excessive tearing, check with your vet to determine if there is an underlying medical cause for the epiphora such as an infection, foreign body or eye injury. If the cause of the excessive tearing cannot be treated, you can prevent the tears from causing staining of the fur with a product such as Angels’ Eyes soft chews. While Angel Eyes will not eliminate the excessive tearing, it will prevent the tears from causing the staining on the fur. For existing stains, you can use Angels’ Eyes Gentle Tear Stain Wipes, which are gentle enough for every day use.

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4 Comments

  1. I have a white poodle and tried everything to get rid of the stains. Finally, I read to use distilled water. It worked!

  2. Oops! For your dog to drink only distilled water!

  3. Thank you Pam. I’m going to get distilled water for my dog to drink for his reddish eyes.

  4. I have a martte dog her eyes are red a round the outside what can cause that

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