The 8 Best Dog Foods For Tear Stains

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

If your dog has watery eyes because of a dietary allergen, you may need to switch your pup to a healthier diet. Chemicals and allergens can cause tear stains on dogs. The best food for tear stains will have limited ingredients with no fillers or artificial preservatives.

Using our 40-point inspection, We’ve reviewed the best dog foods for tear stains to help you choose the right one.

Let’s get started.

The 8 Best Dog Foods For Tear Stains

Top ProductsRatingTop 5 Ingredients
1. Lucy Pet Limited Ingredient Duck & Potato Dog Food4.3Duck, Dried Potatoes, Duck Meal, Dried Sweet Potatoes, Duck Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols)
2. Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Recipe: Small Breed4.6Salmon, Whitefish, Dried Egg Product, Dried Peas, Dried Chickpeas
3. Wellness — Simple L.I.D Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey and Potato4.5Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes
4. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Natural Adult Salmon Recipe4.7Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Menhaden Fish Meal
5. Brothers — Complete Advanced Allergy Care Turkey and Dried Eggs Recipe4.7Turkey Meal, Whole Eggs Dried, Pea Starch, Cassava/Tapioca, Peas
6. Go!— Sensitivity Limited Ingredient Diet Duck Recipe Grain-Free4.5Deboned duck, Duck Meal, Peas, Tapioca, Lentils, Chickpeas
7. Instinct by Nature’s Variety — Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food4.3Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Ground Flaxseed
8. Merrick — Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey4.1Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

1. Lucy Pet Limited Ingredient Duck & Potato Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Duck, 2.Dried Potatoes, 3.Duck Meal, 4.Dried Sweet Potatoes, 5.Duck Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols)

When it comes to preventing tear stains, this limited ingredient recipe is all you need. Lucy Pet’s foods are grain-free and have no wheat, soy, corn, artificial preservatives, or coloring.

This recipe contains all-natural protein sources to support your dog’s health. It includes a special Prebiotic Balanced Fiber (P.B.F.) blend of natural sources, including quinoa, dried chicory root, flaxseed, dried kelp, pumpkin, chickpeas, and ground miscanthus grass. All these ingredients enhance your dog’s immunity and prevent allergy flare-ups. Plus, the food contains omega fatty acids to promote a healthy coat and skin. It’s a perfect recipe for all breeds and life stages.

2. Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Recipe: Small Breed

Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Salmon, 2.Whitefish, 3.Dried Egg Product, 4.Dried Peas, 5.Dried Chickpeas

If you’re looking for dog food for small breeds, consider Halo Holistic all-natural recipe. This recipe contains whole foods and produces for optimal skin health. Its bioavailable ingredients are easy to absorb and good for immune health.

This holistic approach to food may also help prevent tear stains, and the fatty acids in the recipe’s ingredients will make your dog’s coat shine. The formula is free of by-products, artificial additives, and factory-farmed ingredients. It’s one of the best sustainable options to maintain your dog’s health.

3. Blue Buffalo basics Turkey & Potato Recipe

Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Deboned Turkey, 2.Oatmeal, 3.Brown Rice, 4.Potatoes, 5.Peas

When it comes to dry dog food manufacturers, Blue Buffalo is an excellent choice. This nutrient-rich recipe can meet your pup’s dietary needs. It has limited ingredients, including real turkey, and can reduce your dog’s tear stains.

This all-natural kibble doesn’t contain animal by-products and artificial preservatives. It has pumpkin and highly digestible carbohydrates like potatoes and peas. If you have a sensitive dog with food allergies, you may want to consider this recipe. It has everything your dog needs to be healthy and thrive.

4. Wellness — Simple L.I.D Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey and Potato

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Dried Ground Potatoes

This product from Wellness is great for tear-stain prevention. It has high-quality proteins like adult whitefish and digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes.

This natural, grain-free dog food can support full-body health. It includes omega fatty acids, glucosamine, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine for your dog’s health and shiny coat. It excludes gluten, artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors that may harm your dog. It contains wholesome ingredients to keep your dog active all day.

5. Brothers — Complete Advanced Allergy Care Turkey and Dried Eggs Recipe

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey Meal, 2. Whole Eggs Dried, 3. Pea Starch, 4. Cassava/Tapioca, 5. Peas

This allergy care dog food is perfect for dogs with tear stains. It has high protein content, including turkey meal and dried eggs. It is a unique, grain-free formula that contains premium ingredients for optimal skin health. Plus, it contains low-glycemic carbs from cassava plant roots for easy digestion.

This recipe focuses on healing, balancing, and maintaining a healthy immune system. It contains natural preservatives for maximum freshness. Lastly, it’s great for every life stage and helps dogs avoid skin conditions and stomach troubles.

6. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Natural Adult Salmon Recipe

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Menhaden Fish Meal

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Salmon Dog Food features a high-protein recipe that will keep tear stains at bay. It contains deboned salmon and chicken meal to satisfy the high protein needs of all breeds, including the small and large ones. There is also a menhaden fish meal in the primary ingredients. It provides a tasty punch of pea protein and other nutrients for added nourishment.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon recipe has the patented LifeSource bits, making it a good choice for your allergy-sensitive dog.

7. Canidae: Pure Real Salmon and Sweet Potato

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Salmon Meal, 3. Menhaden Fish Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

A limited ingredient diet doesn’t have to lack taste. Canidae proves that you can have a delicious, nutrient-rich recipe with as few as eight ingredients. This Real Salmon and Sweet Potato dry dog food is a fish-based recipe containing salmon and menhaden as the primary protein source. Peas and sweet potatoes provide the necessary carbs.

This recipe is a healthy option for dogs that may develop tear stains. There are no fillers, grains, or artificial additives in this recipe. It contains minerals and vitamins to keep your pet sharp and healthy.

8. Merrick — Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Lentils, 5. Peas

Turkey is a novel protein and a safer alternative to chicken. Merricks Limited Ingredient Turkey recipe can help prevent tear stains and allergy flare-ups. It’s a grain- and gluten-free recipe to keep your dog healthy and active all day. It offers a balanced amount of protein, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates.

This diet has a single-source protein formula and is one of the safest for sensitive dogs. Your dog gets glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints and a good amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for a shiny coat.

9. Go!— Sensitivity Limited Ingredient Diet Duck Recipe Grain-Free

Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Deboned Duck, 2.Duck Meal, 3.Peas, 4.Tapioca, 5.Lentils, 6.Chickpeas

Go! Sensitivity dry food provides your dog with the daily nutrition he needs to stay healthy. It’s a limited ingredient that contains cage-free duck as a source of poultry protein.

The recipe is grain, gluten, and potato-free and is perfect for dogs with specific dietary needs. It contains prebiotic fiber from dried chicory root for a healthy gut and omega oils for healthy skin and coat. It’s a great recipe for dogs of all breeds and life stages.

10. Blue Buffalo — Basics L.I.D Limited-Ingredient Turkey and Potato

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Potatoes, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Oatmeal, 5. Pea Starch

Blue Buffalo’s Basic is a limited ingredient diet that minimizes sensitivities and maximizes nutritional value. It’s a good choice for sensitive dogs with tear stains. It contains turkey as the single protein source and potato as the primary source of digestible carbs. You also get pea fiber and pumpkin to aid digestion and prevent stomach-related sensitivities.

This limited ingredient formula supports your dog’s nutritional needs and overall wellbeing. It has a patented antioxidant blend called the LifeSource Bits.

11. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Grain-Free Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

If you’re looking for a high protein diet for your dog, this is a great option. Taste of the Wild offers one of the best options for sensitive dogs. This grain-free diet features an ideal nutrient balance for your dog’s optimal health.

This recipe contains antioxidants and vitamins to optimize nutrient absorption. The novel protein sources in this formula are great for preventing tear stains and other allergic reactions. They also help your dog maintain strong and lean muscles.

12. Nutro Ultra Chicken Grain-Free Split Pea & Carrot Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Split Peas, 4. Lamb Meal, 5. Dried Potatoes

This dog food by Nutro Ultra contains farm-raised chicken as the primary ingredient and meets your dog’s nutritional requirements. The blend includes a variety of wholesome ingredients, such as farm-grown split peas, carrots, and parsley. It’s a nutritious and flavorful diet for adult dogs of all breeds and sizes.

The formula also contains high-quality fruits and vegetables that offer balanced nutrition. If you want your dog to thrive and have fewer allergic reactions, this grain-free recipe is an excellent choice.

13. Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Herring Meal, 2. Peas, 3. Salmon meal, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Tapioca

This recipe contains high protein content extracted from some of the best sources, including salmon, whitefish meal, and herring meal. The Coastal Catch formula is a great choice for adult dogs as the high protein levels and other nutrients enhance immune health. It’s a grain-free recipe with natural ingredients to help your dog thrive and prevent allergic reactions. Additionally, it contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential omegas to maintain great skin and fur!

14. Health Extension Buffalo & Whitefish Grain-Free Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Deboned Whitefish, 3. Buffalo Meal, 4. Whitefish Meal, 5. Chickpeas

Health Extension’s grain-free recipe contains high protein content that’s derived from premium animal sources. It has buffalo meal and deboned whitefish. Other ingredients such as whole vegetables, fruits, and herbs offer optimal nutrition to your pup. This recipe is ideal for preventing tear stains in sensitive dogs. It is free from gluten and G.M.O.s and is suitable for all dog breeds and life stages.

The formula is rich in fiber and contains omega fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, calcium, and dietary fiber. It’s one of the best foods for allergy-prone dogs and provides dense nutrition.

15. CANIDAE — PURE Grain-Free Real Lamb Limited Ingredient Diet

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb, 2. Goat Meat, 3. Lentils, 4. Peas, 5. Tapioca

This special recipe is rich in lamb protein and supports sensitive dogs. It eliminates all fillers and unnecessary ingredients to prevent allergic reactions on the skin. The limited ingredient recipe uses just eight key ingredients for easy digestion and includes all the essential nutrients your dog needs. The high protein content and other nutrients guarantee your dog’s wellbeing.

16. Nulo — Freestyle Grain-Free Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Deboned Turkey, 2.Turkey Meal, 3.Salmon Meal, 4.Chickpeas, 5.Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid)

This grain-free recipe has animal-based protein sources and is a healthy choice for your dog, including the perfect blend of high-protein ingredients includes turkey, salmon, chicken, and eggs. Other nutrients include organic vegetables and fruits for optimal skin health. The excellent nutrient profile makes this a popular choice for dogs with tear stains.

17. Instinct by Nature’s Variety — Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredient: 1.Chicken, 2.Turkey, 3.Chicken Broth, 4.Chicken Liver, 5.Ground Flaxseed

Satisfy your dog’s nutritional requirements by offering him flavorful wet dog food. This canned option contains grain-free chicken and is suitable for dogs that are prone to tear stains. The primary protein sources include turkey, chicken, and chicken liver. Other wholesome ingredients serve as natural sources of essential nutrients like protein, fats, carbs, and essential omega fatty acids.

18. Natural Balance —Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Salmon Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Salmon, 2.Menhaden Fish Meal, 3.Sweet Potatoes, 4.Cassava Flour, 5.Potatoes

Meet your dog’s nutritional requirements by offering him a balanced, holistic meal. The grain-free, limited ingredient diet contains selective ingredients to minimize adverse reactions and tear stains. Your pup gets all the essential nutrients without experiencing any discomfort or irritation. The recipe uses salmon and sweet potato as primary ingredients and is suitable for dogs with sensitive tummies. It supports overall health and wellbeing.

19. Purina — Pro Plan Veterinary Diets H.A. Chicken Flavor

Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Corn Starch, 2. Hydrolyzed Soy Protein Isolate, 3. Partially Hydrogenated Canola Oil Preserved with Tbho, 4. Coconut Oil, 5. Dicalcium Phosphate

Food sensitivities don’t mean you have to deprive your dog of all proteins. Purina Pro Plan Ha canine formula is a great alternative to regular kibble. It contains a single carbohydrate source, which is a highly digestible and low allergen. It is an excellent option for dogs that are already dealing with watery eyes and tear stains. Keep in mind that it a prescription diet, which means you need your veterinarian’s approval and authorization.

20. Iams ProActive Health Adult With Beef & Rice Pate Canned Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Water, 3. Beef, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Flaxseed

Iams ProActive Health Sensitive Skin & Stomach has real chicken as the primary source of protein. It also contains rice as a source of digestive fiber. This slow-cooked formula is ideal for dogs with sensitive skin. Other vegetables provide essential minerals and vitamins to make it a perfectly balanced meal for your pooch. Plus, you get the essential fatty acids and beneficial antioxidants to keep your dog look and feel healthy. The recipe is free of all the fillers and artificial additives.


Buyer’s Guide – Shopping Considerations

Some dog breeds develop tear stains underneath their eyes. The cause can be related to food and environmental allergies and other health issues. If your dog’s eyes water excessively, it’s important to provide a healthy and nutritious diet. Good food can help restore your dog’s beautiful, furry face.

Ingredients to Avoid

Fillers: Dogs need a simple, protein-rich diet for their bodies to function properly. Many dog food manufacturers add fillers like wheat, corn, and other grains to cut costs. These fillers aren’t harmful, but some sensitive dogs react poorly, which can ultimately cause tear stains. If your dog has tear stains, you may want to consider grain-free dog food.

Preservatives: Most commercial dog food brands add unnatural preservatives to keep their kibble shelf-stable for extended periods. Pets can have allergic reactions to these preservatives and develop tear stains.

Artificial colors and flavoring:  Dog foods that rely on artificial flavors to make their food more palatable can cause eye staining. It’s best to choose an all-natural dog food with a simple ingredient list.

Dietary Considerations for Preventing Tear Stains

Limited ingredient dog food

Limited ingredient dog food (L.I.D.) is a great option for pet parents. It often contains one protein source, like salmon or lamb, and has quality carbohydrates. If you want to buy dog food with limited ingredients, you should check the product label to see what’s in it. There can be “hidden” ingredients in these diets that are potential problems for sensitive dogs.

Look for wholesome nutrition in limited ingredient dog foods. The best L.I.D. foods have AAFCO-certification.

Grain-free dog food

A grain-free diet is perfect for dogs with sensitivity to grains like barley, wheat, corn, and rye. Dogs have difficulty digesting these grains, which can also tear stains, rashes, gastrointestinal disease, inflammation, and other serious health issues.

Grain-free diets are always gluten-free and can prevent common allergy symptoms such as tear stains. These diets are highly digestible, meaning your pet can utilize necessary nutrients efficiently.

Novel ingredient dog food

Novel diets are ideal for dogs that are prone to tear stains. It refers to protein your pet hasn’t tried before, which reduces the chances of an adverse reaction. Novel diets have allergy-friendly ingredients such as venison, rabbit, kangaroo, fish, or duck. Commercial pet foods rarely use novel proteins, so previous exposure in dogs is unlikely.

Don’t forget about treats

Some people avoid unhealthy ingredients in their dog’s food but offer plenty of processed treats. If you want to prevent tear stains in dogs, make sure you choose organic treats.

You’ll find many options on the market, but we recommend Full Moon’s Kitchen-Crafted Natural Dog Treats. These limited-ingredient treats are free of glycerin, artificial preservatives, and flavors. They come in chicken or beef options so that you can choose your pet’s favorite protein.

Another great option is PetPost’s Tear Stain Remover Soft Chews. These chews contain supplements to combat tear stains.

Other tips to reduce staining

Good Hygiene

Daily facial grooming can keep those pesky stains at bay. Here are some tips:

  • Flush your dog’s eyes with a canine eyewash, such as Terra Septic eye drops or saline eyewash solutions.
  • Soak a cotton ball with the eyewash or a contact lens solution, and rub underneath the eye area. Bio True and Opti-Clear are great options.
  • Wash the muzzle hair with waterless or dry shampoo. You can also try 3% hydrogen peroxide on a paper towel.
  • Trim the hair around the eyes to avoid irritation and subsequent tearing.

Regular Vet Visits

Visiting your veterinarian can help treat underlying medical conditions before they can cause tear stains. Dogs often tear excessively when in discomfort. So, you should consider going to the vet if you notice an eye discharge.

How to Clean Tear Stains on Dogs

The best way to reduce tear staining is to keep the eye area clean and dry. You can accomplish this with dry cotton balls or makeup remover pads. Alternatively, you can clean the eye area with a washcloth and saline solution. 

Cleaning aims to remove excessive tear accumulation and allow the area to dry to prevent moisture build-up of moisture.

There are several over-the-counter cleaning wipes you can use to keep the eye area clean. Just make sure the cleaning product is safe to use around a dog’s eyes.

Some experts stress the importance of reading product labels and getting your veterinarian’s approval before using any cleaning product on your dog.

Be careful and avoid getting any of the products in your dog’s eye. Placing your dog on a grooming table or getting a friend to hold your dog gently can be a big help. 

Safe products you can use to clean tear stains include:

  • Dilute baby shampoo
  • Contact lens solution
  • Commercially available eyewash for dogs

Our Favorite Tear Stain Cleaner

Optixcare Eye Cleaner is a great liquid wash that is safe around the eye.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which types of dogs are susceptible to eye discharge and tear stains?

Dogs with white facial fur are more likely to have visible eye discharge or tear staining on their faces. Pigments in their tears can easily stain light-colored fur. Also, dogs with long hair may be more prone to excessive tearing.

Which dog breeds are susceptible to eye discharge and tear stains?

Short-nosed dog breeds like Shih-Tzu, Pekingese, and pug are prone to excessive tearing. These breeds have shallow eye sockets or hair growth around the eyes that cause tear stains.  

How can I remove my dog’s tear stains?

These reddish-brown stains can be stubborn, but you can try home remedies to minimize their appearance. You can swab the stains using whitening products like hydrogen peroxide or special grooming products for stained pet fur. Remember to keep harsh cleaning products away from your dog’s face.

What are tear stains, and do they go away?

Tear stains are a common problem in dogs. They are visible marks around the dog’s eyes, most easily seen on dogs with light-colored fur. A good diet and regular cleaning can make tear stains go away.

Can coconut oil remove dog tear stains?

Using coconut oil to remove tear stains is a holistic and natural approach. You can apply organic coconut oil and cornflour on stained fur for easy removal.

How can I get rid of brown stains on white dogs?

You have to clean the muzzle hair with dry shampoo and a wet washcloth. You can also try 3% hydrogen peroxide on a paper towel to remove brown stains.

Why does my pet have dark tear stains?

Tear stains aren’t harmful to dogs, but they may indicate underlying health conditions. These include teething problems, corneal ulcerations, ear infections, a pH imbalance, and large tear glands. Ingrown eyelashes and a poor diet may also contribute to tear stains.

Are tear stains bad for my dog?

Yes, tear stains are bad for your dog. They are a sign of discomfort and underlying health issues. You may need to consult a vet immediately if your dog develops these stains to determine the root of the problem.  

Can apple cider vinegar remove tear stains?

Apple cider vinegar has many culinary uses and can also help remove those pesky tear stains.  

Does tap water contribute to tear stains in dogs?

High mineral content in water can also contribute to tear stains. You can give your pup fresh, filtered water to prevent staining.  

Can diet cause tear stains in dogs?

Low-quality ingredients in your dog’s food like preservatives and fillers can cause allergic reactions and excessive tearing.

What products can prevent my dog’s tear stains?

You can use an eye rinse like Vetericyn Plus All Animal Eye Wash to flush out the eyes. It helps remove irritants that may cause tearing. You can also use a gel to soothe any residual irritation.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy occurs when a pet’s immune system mistakenly identifies a food ingredient as harmful and creates defensive antibodies to fight the invading enemy (the food).

How often should I feed my dogs?

If you have a puppy, you should feed him at least four times a day, while adult dogs are normally fed twice a day. Dogs enjoy routine, so establish a feeding schedule and maintain it. A good time to feed your dog is during family meals to keep him busy while the rest of the family is eating.

How much should I feed my sensitive dog?

The amount your sensitive dog needs to eat depends on many factors, including life stage, size, lifestyle, and general health. Select a premium quality dog food, weigh your dog and read the feeding guidelines on the package. Remember that every dog is unique, so you might have to adjust your dog’s feeding accordingly.

What are the signs of a food allergy?

The symptoms of an allergy include skin rash, tear stains, hives, paw biting, itching, obsessive licking, and sometimes nausea.

Does food cause my dog’s allergy?

Food is the third leading cause of canine allergies. If you observe any allergy symptoms, you should consult a vet to determine the cause.

What ingredients can provoke food allergies?

The most common ingredients that can provoke an allergic reaction include:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Yeast

Can a vet help prevent excessive tearing?

If an allergen is causing tear stains, keeping the pet away from the trigger is necessary. Vets can decide if your dog needs medication to stop excessive tearing. They can also recommend prescription diets and recommend lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms.

Is good nutrition important for dogs with tear stains?

Your dog must eat a complete and balanced diet. Dogs need protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, and freshwater. The most important nutrient is freshwater, which makes up 60 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are also crucial for optimal skin health and overall wellbeing.  

Are dog tear stains normal?

Yes, dog tear stains are normal, and they occur from time to time. But when they develop tear stains frequently, you should consult a vet to fix the underlying problem.