Best Dog Food for Tear Stains Our 2021 Picks

by Stuart | Last Updated:   March 28, 2019
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Dealing with tear stains on dogs can feel like a never-ending tug of war. The moment you think you’ve got them beat, there they are back under your doggie’s eyes.

Sometimes, even though you’re doing helpful things to combat your dog’s tear stains, you might not be treating the actual cause.

Any food or ingredient that your dog is allergic to could cause an allergic reaction which results in excessive tear stains.

That’s why you’ll notice some of the foods on this list focusing on reducing allergic reactions or limiting common allergens found in dog foods.

Top Pick At A Glance

NaturVet – Tear Stain Plus Lutein

  • NaturVet has made it easy to see whether food is impacting your dog’s tear stains
  • Soft Chews for dogs help to remove and prevent unsightly tear stains

As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases, thanks for supporting our work!

The Top 5 Dog Foods for Tear Stains Are:

  1. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin
  2. Purina Pro Plan Focus
  3. Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Sensitive Systems
  4. Wysong Optimal Adult Canine Formula
  5. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free

Tear stains are caused by iron-waste molecules known as porphyrins. These molecules are the result of red blood cells breaking down. While porphyrins are normally excreted through feces, dogs and cats can excrete them through bodily fluids like saliva, urine and tears. 

When excreted through tears on dogs with lighter coloured fur, all it takes is a bit of time in the sun for staining to happen.

Dog with tear stains staring back at camera with white background

Breeds with shorter noses and protruding eyes are even more susceptible to excessive tearing due to their narrow and crooked tear ducts.

There are a few ways to treat tear stains in dogs safely. You should always make sure the area under your dog’s eye is cleaned regularly, and this can be done by wiping gently with a warm cloth a couple of times a day. Ensuring their facial hair is trimmed is another easy and effective way to combat tear stains in dogs. 

Some other ways to treat tear stains in dogs include:

  • using filtered water instead of tap
  • using stainless steel bowls
  • cleaning tear stain with milk thistle or chlorophyll
  • proper diet

In this post we’re going to be looking at how cleaning up your dog’s diet can help reduce or eliminate their tear stains. But as always, having your dog’s tear stains checked out by a veterinarian should be your first course of action.

1. Top Pick: Hill’s Science Diet

This food has been designed to promote better digestive health in dogs while also nourishing their skin. Hill’s Science foods are highly recommended by veterinarians. 

While this food isn’t perfect for all dog’s it can be an excellent food for some dogs experiencing symptoms from the food they are eating.

Hill’s Science

  • Prebiotic fiber to support a balanced gut microbiome
  • Highly digestible for optimal nutrient absorption & easier stool pick-up
  • Vitamin E & Omega-6 fatty acids to help your grown dog get a lustrous coat and healthy skin
  • Made in the USA with global ingredients you can trust
  • No.1 veterinarian-recommended

While this food is not geared towards eliminating certain protein sources it does aim to improve digestion. It contains a source of prebiotic fibres that help to balance the gut microbiome in dogs.

The Hill’s Science Diet is formulated to be highly digestible to help dogs better absorb the nutrients from the food they eat. It also contains higher amounts of Vitamin E and Omega 6 fatty acids to help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.

This food is a little on the pricier side considering what it contains. However, this food is designed for sensitivities rather than allergies.

It contains a source of prebiotic fibre to support a balanced gut microbiome in your grown dog. This food is also designed to be highly digestible, something the food your doggie is currently eating may lack.

If you are specifically trying to avoid eggs, chicken and/or grains then this food will not work. Some pet parents have experienced this food making their doggie’s allergies even worse. Whether it’s diarrhea or more itching, some dogs, unfortunately, do not do well on this food.

This is the reality for dog food, unfortunately, but it can be more disappointing when it comes to higher quality and commercial dog food. It won’t completely change up what your doggie is likely already eating but it will clean up what they’re eating and promote better digestion.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Brown Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Pork Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Flaxseed, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Oat Fiber, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.

Feeding Directions:

Feed your dog 1/2 to 5/8 cup per 5 pounds of body weight per day; 3/4 to 1-1/8 cup per 10 pounds of body weight per day; 1-1/3 to 1-3/4 cup per 20 pounds of body weight per day; 2-1/4 to 3 cup per 40 pounds of body weight per day; 3 to 4-1/4 cup per 60 pounds of body weight per day; 3-3/4 to 5-1/4 cup per 80 pounds of body weight per day; 4-1/2 to 6 cup per 100 pounds of body weight per day


2. Purina Pro Plan Focus 

While the top pick is a great choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs, many pet parents have reviewed this food as responsible for relieving their doggie’s skin allergies. It can also improve a doggie’s coat making it appear shinier.

A lot of pet parents report success with this food and their dog that has allergies.

Purina Pro Plan

  • Real salmon is the #1 ingredient
  • Prebiotic fiber promotes digestive health
  • Contains no corn, wheat or soy
  • No corn, wheat or soy. No artificial colors or flavors. No poultry by product meal

It contains a prebiotic fibre that promotes digestive health.

It does not contain any corn, wheat or soy which can help when trying to determine a specific food allergy.

While shipping dog food is normally fine, there have been some complaints about this particular food. A lot of the complaints from pet parents focus on spoiled or damaged food which may indicate warehousing issues.

If you suspect your doggie is dealing with a food allergy or sensitivity, especially to something like chicken, then this food is an excellent choice.

Ingredients:

Salmon, barley, ground rice, canola meal, oat meal, fish meal (source of glucosamine), animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, brewers dried yeast, salmon meal (source of glucosamine), natural flavor, sunflower oil, chicory root inulin, salt, fish oil, Vitamins [Vitamin E supplement, niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), folic acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), biotin (Vitamin B-7)], potassium chloride, minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (Vitamin C), choline chloride.  K-4449-C

Feeding Directions:

Although you’ll be anxious to see the difference Pro Plan can make in your dog, please allow 7 – 10 days to ease the transition from your dog’s current food. Each day, simply feed a little less of the previous food and a little more Pro Plan until you’re feeding Pro Plan exclusively. This gradual transition will help avoid dietary upsets.

Dog with tear stains and a scarf on leash looking off into distance inside a building

3. Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Sensitive Systems

This food is a great option for pet parents on a budget and contains mostly salmon as its protein. If you’re trying to pinpoint a particular protein your doggie is allergic too, then this food is a good place to start.

This dog food has a focus on easier to digest nutrition. It contains salmon (as the first ingredient) and is an omega-rich dog food which can help improve a doggie’s skin and coat.

Purina ONE

  • Sensitive skin dog food features real salmon as the #1 ingredient
  • Salmon dog food recipe is easily digestible for dogs with sensitive systems
  • Kibble dog food contains vitamin E and Omega-6 fatty acids to promote skin & coat health
  • Purina ONE is veterinarian recommended

Other vitamins and minerals found within this food aim to improve a dog’s immune system which may help with defence against allergens. The main protein source is fish. If you are working with a doggie that has a chicken or beef allergy then this food will help.

Don’t feel bad about the low price, Purina is a well-established pet food company and often sold out of veterinarian’s offices.

A lot of pet parents report this food as helping their dog with a sensitive stomach. Due to the higher amounts of omega fatty acids, this food is also being praised for making dog coats shinier.

While the first ingredient is Salmon, this dog food does contain some chicken. If chicken is suspected as a food allergen for your doggie then this product may not work.

This food was once free of all chicken, but it now appears further down the list of ingredients.

This is the best option for those on a budget. In fact, it’s a great option for those not on a budget as well.

Ingredients:

Salmon (Source of Glucosamine), Rice Flour, Pearled Barley, Oat Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Beef Fat Naturally Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Liver Flavor, Mono and Dicalcium Phosphate, Fish Oil, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Dried Carrots, Dried Peas, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride. I-4187.

Feeding Directions:

3-12 LBS1/3 – 1
13-20 LBS1 – 1 1/3
21-35 LBS1 1/3 – 2
36-50 LBS2 – 2 2/3
51-75 LBS2 2/3 – 3 1/3
76-100 LBS3 1/3 – 4
OVER 100 LBS4 plus 1/4 cup for each 10 lbs of body weight over 100 lbs

Although you’ll be anxious to see the difference Purina ONE can make in your dog, please allow 7 – 10 days to ease the transition from your dog’s current food.

Each day, simply feed a little less of the previous food and a little more Purina ONE until you’re feeding Purina ONE exclusively. This gradual transition will help avoid dietary upsets.


4. Wysong Optimal Adult Canine Formula Dry Dog Food

In my opinion, Wysong deserves to be more popular than it is. It’s a great dog food made by a dog food company that truly cares about the well-being of doggies.

Although there is little clinical research supporting rotating diets for dogs, there is anecdotal evidence from pet parents who swear by it.

Wysong

  • 42% Protein With High Levels Of Fresh/Frozen And Dried Meats, Natural Protein And Fat
  • A Grain Free+ Formula! Not Only Grain-Free, But High Protein, High Fat, And Very Low Starch. An Improved Version Of Our Time Tested, Original Adult Dog Food
  • Low Levels Of Carbohydrate And Glycemic Index, Organic Ingredients, High Levels Of Enzymes/Probiotics/Micronutrients, Natural Omega-3:Omega-6 Ratios
  • Numerous Organic Ingredients, High Levels Of Enzymes/Probiotics/Micronutrients, Natural Omega-3:Omega-6 Ratios. Very Palatable And Suitable For All Sizes, Life Stages, And Breeds

Wysong makes rotating your dog’s diet really simple. This may help your doggie’s tear stains as it can help prevent food-allergens and intolerances.

This food is definitely on the premium side. But this is definitely a food where the higher cost comes with higher quality.

Wysong Optimal Adult dog food contains very low levels of carbohydrate, low glycemic index, multiple organic ingredients, unsurpassed levels of enzymes and probiotics, natural omega-3 : omega-6 fatty acid ratios, a superb spectrum of micronutrients, including life stage specific nutraceuticals, and more.

They also go the extra mile by packaging all of their foods in bags that prevent oxidization. Many pet parents are surprised to learn just how quickly dry dog food can go bad due to poor packing.

The kibbles are quite small compared to most dog foods. This is more an issue if you have a larger dog who eats extremely fast, although I’ve yet to see a dog take their time eating…

The price is also a con. If you’re a pet parent on a budget (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) then you may want to skip this one. 

Wysong has been feeding healthy dog foods to dogs for over 40 years. Their philosophy is to mimic the “archetypal carnivorous diet’.

Ingredients:

Organic Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Fish Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Potato, Chicken Fat, Flaxseeds, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Eggs, Montmorillonite Clay, Crab Meal, Whey, Natural Flavor, Coconut Oil, Chia Seeds, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Tomato Pomace, Calcium Propionate, Choline Chloride, Organic Barley Grass, Blueberry, Dried Kelp, Yogurt (Whey, Milk Solids, Yogurt Cultures), Apple Pectin, Fish Oil, Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Chicory Root, Mixed Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract, Yeast Culture, Dried Carrots, Dried Celery, Dried Parsley, Dried Lettuce, Dried Watercress, Dried Spinach, Minerals (Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Vitamins (Ascorbic Acid [source of Vitamin C], Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Dried Bacillus licheniformis Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus oryzae Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus niger Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus lactis Fermentation Product, Pepper.

Feeding Directions:

To avoid digestive disturbances, mix with the present diet beginning at about 10% and then gradually increase proportions. If fed singularly on any given day, please refer to the general guidelines listed on the product label.


5. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Ocean Whitefish, Herring & Salmon

If you’re looking for a food that has a good chance of relieving your dog of some common food allergies then you may want to consider the Wellness Core dog food. In case your dog is one of the very rare populations of dogs that has a grain allergy this food is grain-free.

It contains Whitefish as its first ingredient and the remaining protein sources come from fish. There is a good chance, however, that it will help your dog clean up their diet in a fairly short amount of time.

Wellness Core

  • Premium protein expertly balanced with nutrient rich superfoods for a complete and balanced dog food, with guaranteed levels of all the nutrients your dog needs to thrive and no fillers
  • Made with a high concentration of protein from fresh meat ingredients
  • Guaranteed levels of omega fatty acids from ingredients such as flaxseed and salmon oil

Few foods can avoid so many common food allergens while still maintaining fairly high nutritional integrity. The Wellness Core Ocean dog food avoids many of the common dog food allergens in commercial dog foods.

In fact, the reviews for this dog food are full of anecdotal stories from pet parents stating this food relieved many of their doggie’s allergies once they switched to it. This food, unfortunately, has a very strong smell to it.

If a fishy smell causes you to feel queasy then you may find this food unbearable to handle. Just to be on the safe side I recommend storing it in a sealed container and outside of any main room (if possible).

Additionally, not every pet parent and their doggie find relief with this food. Some pet parents review this food as having made their dog sick causing an upset stomach.

The Wellness Core Ocean dog food may be the quickest way to eliminate many of the common food allergens found in most dog food.

Ingredients:

Whitefish, Herring Meal, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Dried Ground Potatoes, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Fiber, Tomato Pomace, Natural Fish Flavor, Flaxseed, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Biotin, Folic Acid], Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate], Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Taurine, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.This is a naturally preserved product.

Feeding Directions:

Wellness CORE recipes are for dogs 1 year and older. It is important to slowly transition your pet from his/her current diet as it takes a few days for the body to adapt to the new nutrient levels. To transition, gradually mix in the new food over a 5-7 day period, increasing the amount of Wellness each day, so that you are feeding 100% Wellness by day 7. Combination Feeding: Keep a clean bowl of fresh water available at all times. Wellness believes in feeding dry and wet food in combination whenever possible to help increase the level of water in your dog’s diet.


How Does Dog Food Cause Or Prevent Tear Stains?

The unfortunate reality is that some dogs are just more prone to getting tear stains than others. And as you can probably guess, dogs with lighter fur will have more apparent tear staining.

There are also things outside of your control as a pet parent, like environmental irritants. 

And as discussed at the beginning of this post, tear stains are caused by porphyrins, which can be excreted through tears in dogs.

Any food or ingredient that your dog is allergic to could cause an allergic reaction which results in excessive tears. Breeds with shorter noses and protruding eyes are even more susceptible to excessive tearing due to their narrow and crooked tear ducts.

Cheap dog food is the most common form of dog food causing tear stains. Cheap dog foods contain excess fillers or ingredients that don’t really add much nutritional value, just weight to the overall packaging.

Some cheap dog foods can have excessive artificial colouring and flavouring. These fillers can cause allergic reactions and excess of watering in the tear glands. Additionally, preservatives in cheaper commercial dog foods can cause a similar reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do blueberries help with dog tear stains?

While blueberries don’t have a direct “magical” effect on tear stains, they do offer high nutritional value and are a great way to clean up your dogs diet and move towards getting rid of those tear stains.

Why are my dog’s tear stains so bad?

It’s likely due to a lack of consistent care and grooming. Make sure to regularly (twice a day) wipe your dog’s fur under their eyes with a warm cloth and to ensure the hair under their eyes gets consistent care and attention.

What is the best tear stain remover for Maltese?

Outside of regular cleaning and grooming, you may want to consider getting a dog-specific shampoo or cleaning product. Burt’s Bee’s makes a great gentle yet effective tear stain remover that you may want to try.

Burt’s Bees for Pets Natural Tear Stain Remover

  • Burt’s Bees Tear Stain Remover safely and gently removes stain-causing particles from the fur around your dog’s eyes
  • All-natural ingredients including Chamomile, which removes stains the natural way

Is distilled water safe for dogs?

You may also be worrying that the water you are giving your dog is causing an excess build-up of certain elements or compounds. In general, and what many vets recommend, is that any water safe for human consumption is safe for dogs.

Conclusion

Tear stains are caused by porphyrins, an iron-waste molecule resulting from the break down of red blood cells and their excretion from tear glands, certain allergies in dogs can trigger an excess in tear production, increasing the likelihood of tear stains.

If you suspect your doggie has allergies then make sure you, well, make sure! Too many pet parents fall into a spiral of worry. But cleaning up your dog’s will not only help to potentially reduce their tear stains, but it will also help their overall well-being as well.

If your doggie has been having an unusual amount of tears that are darker in colour then their diet and nutrition may be worth looking into.

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.