How to Get Rid of Smelly Tear Stains on Your Dog's Face
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How to Get Rid of Smelly Tear Stains on Your Dog's Face

This article was written as a response to the question: I have a shih-tzu/maltese mix and he has smelly tear stains. How do I get rid of them?

I own a nine month old pure bred Maltese myself and this has been an ongoing battle since day one. We have tried everything and anything people have told us (including the vet!) and nothing, by itself, really works. However, a combination of treatments really does the trick and you will be able to minimize and eventually eliminate the smelly tear stain problem.

First of all, regular grooming is of utmost importance. Keep your furry friend’s face trimmed specially around the eyes. It seems like the least amount of hair that is soaked by the tears, the less they smell. Believe me they still look awfully cute even with their face trimmed.

Clean its face with tear stain cleaning solution every day. Any brand will do as they all do pretty much the same. The cheapest one works as well as the most expensive one and you can get them at pet supply stores or department stores. The tear stain cleaning solution does not completely remove the stain, but it cleanses the tear saturated area eliminating a great deal of the odor.

Wipe its face two or three times a week with a damp washcloth (preferably warm water) and put a drop of dog shampoo made for dogs with white hair. There are many different brands of white haired dog shampoo, but again, they all work about the same. Gently rub its face, avoiding contact with the eyes, and then wipe it again with water only. This seems to keep the hair whiter than the actual tear stain cleaning solution alone, plus it ads a pleasant smell.

Keeping your dog looking beautiful and tear stain free is a lot of work, but once you have the routine down, it does not seem that demanding or time consuming. Other than spending this much time and effort on your pet’s pretty little face, there is no “one-step solution” to this problem. These dogs are beautiful and very loving too, but they certainly are high maintenance pups.

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Comments (3)
lee murdock

I have been told if you change you dog water to distilled water there will be less tearing thus reducing staining. Is this correct &/or safe?

Maritza Manresa

I am sorry, but I had never heard of that option before. Those stains can be pretty tough, I cannot imagine distilled water alone taking care of it.


I found out the reason for tear stains and you have to change the water or buy Angel eyes that is just a bandaid the real problem is the dog food. I've owned my sweet Shih tzu for 2 years and I've had him since he was 10 weeks he has had stains every since, until now. I started making him homemade food 2 parts chicken, turkey or fish, 1 part vegetables and 1 part rice or noodles, I switch it up so he has something different every week. It's only been 2 weeks and it's the best thing that I could have ever done for him no more tear stains or itching other things are just a cover up you need to find out the problem making their eyes stain. I hope this helps somebody and their dog.