10 Best Dog Food for Tear Stains in 2020 (Top Rated Picks)

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

Have you ever seen a pup who looked like he’d been having a good cry? Although it may look kinda cute at first, these tear stains can give your pooch a dirty and sad appearance.

Although this condition, known as epiphora, isn’t dangerous in itself, it can have a variety of causes and can be a sign of an underlying problem. 

If other health conditions have been ruled out by a vet, feeding your pet one of the kibbles on our list of best dog food for tear stains can reduce these marks and make your pooch feel (and look) chipper and cheerful. 

Product Name
Best Overall For Most Dogs
Best For Puppies
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food
ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Duck & Pear, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food, FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula - 41 lb. Bag
Rating
Our Rating 93 / 100
Our Rating 92 / 100
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Recipe range makes it easy to avoid allergens without being limited in choice
Fantastic recipe range for healthy flavour options
Good protein and fat levels for the average fairly active dog
Pro 2
Probiotics and antioxidants are added after cooking to preserve their effectiveness
Great for starting your puppy on a biologically appropriate diet
Added prebiotic fiber and fish oil
Best Overall For Most Dogs
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food
Rating
Our Rating 93 / 100
Pro 1
Recipe range makes it easy to avoid allergens without being limited in choice
Pro 2
Probiotics and antioxidants are added after cooking to preserve their effectiveness
Best For Puppies
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Duck & Pear, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Fantastic recipe range for healthy flavour options
Pro 2
Great for starting your puppy on a biologically appropriate diet
Best Budget Option
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food, FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula - 41 lb. Bag
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Good protein and fat levels for the average fairly active dog
Pro 2
Added prebiotic fiber and fish oil
Sources researched
17
Sources researched
Customer reviews
16,346
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
18
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested

10 Best Dog Food For Tear Stains

Canidae Pure Real Limited Ingredient Diets

Premium Option: Packed with great nutritional values

Overall Rating93%
High-Quality Animal Protein95%
Added Vitamins & Minerals90%
Avoids Common Allergens95%
No Synthetic Ingredients95%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Recipe range makes it easy to avoid allergens without being limited in choice 
  • Probiotics and antioxidants are added after cooking to preserve their effectiveness 
  • Between 8 and 10 ingredients in each flavour 
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients 

CONS

  • A little on the pricey side

For pups who need a dog food for tear stains but are fussy eaters, this recipe range is perfect. With great nutritional values, high protein and fat, high Omegas, and a splash of joint-strengthening supps means this kibble is suitable for just about any dog who wants to reduce tear stains.

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Versatile Recipe Range 

There are 10+ recipes in this series and you can either give your pooch a nice mix and match or you can select the one that would suit your dog best based on the ingredients or the nutrient counts. 

With interesting flavours like Bison, Wild Boar, Duck, Salmon, Lamb, Chicken, and Lamb, Goat, & Venison, there’s definitely some interesting choice. The protein counts range from 25% t0 32% depending on which flavour you choose, and the fat counts are also varied, from about 14% to 19%, meaning that no matter your pup’s activity level, there will be something to suit them. 

Something For Everyone 

Apart from the varying protein and fat levels, you’ll find high Omega fatty acid levels (in fact, some of the highest out there), as well as added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support. 

The beauty of this range is not only the flavour range, but the fact that they cater for every dog. They have formulas for puppies (added DHA), seniors (extra vitamins and minerals), weight management (low in fat), and small breeds. 

Acana Singles Recipe Range

Best For Puppies: Great protein and fats for growing pups

Overall Rating92%
High-Quality Animal Protein95%
Added Vitamins & Minerals95%
Avoids Common Allergens95%
No Synthetic Ingredients90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Fantastic recipe range for healthy flavour options 
  • High in protein and fats 
  • Contain DHA, EPA, and glucosamine & chondroitin 
  • Great for starting your puppy on a biologically appropriate diet

CONS

  • Somewhat pricey

Although this range isn’t specifically for puppies, the nutritional values are right in the zone for growing pups, and the extra additions of DHA, EPA, and glucosamine make these kibbles perfect for puppies.

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Same Main Values Across All Recipes 

Unlike the others in which all recipes are different, these ones are crafted precisely to contain the same nutritional values in each recipes – 31% protein and 17% fat. 

The things that do differ are the levels of Omega fatty acid, DHA and EPA, and glucosamine and chondroitin, although they don’t differ by much. 

The fact that these are staples in each recipe makes them all super for puppies. Both small and large breed puppies tend to benefit from joint supplements, and DHA is necessary for healthy eye and brain development. 

DHA and EPA are both unsaturated, making it easy for them to be broken down and used in the body. Some other advantages of these include reducing inflammation (which will help reduce tear stains), reducing dermatitis, and promoting healthy cardiovascular activity.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach

Best Value for Money: Good quality ingredients for its price 

Overall Rating92%
High-Quality Animal Protein90%
Added Vitamins & Minerals90%
Avoids Common Allergens90%
No Synthetic Ingredients95%
Affordability95%

PROS

  • Good protein and fat levels for the average fairly active dog 
  • Added prebiotic fiber and fish oil 
  • Healthy and easily digestible carbohydrates 
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives 

CONS

  • “Fish meal” and “Animal fat” are a little vague and indicative of lower quality ingredients

If you’re on a budget, this kibble will make you smile. It’s formulated for sensitive skin and stomach, which means it’s right in the zone to keep allergies at bay. It’s also ideal for multi-dog families who are looking to reduce tear stains in one or all of their pups, because you can get a 41lb bag for the price you’ll pay for 24lb in any other brand. 

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Good Quality Ingredients For Its Price 

Although there’s only one flavour, the ingredients are decent and avoid most common stuff that causes digestive upset. Single source protein is always good to see, and this is quality stuff – deboned salmon and salmon meal. 

The carbs include rice, barley, and oat meal, which are all decent ingredients. The only thing that puts this a little below some of the other brands is that a couple of their ingredients are named rather vaguely, which is often a sign of a lower quality ingredient. Fish meal and animal fat give no indication of what fish or what animal they are, which is slightly concerning, but not necessarily surprising at this price. 

Average Protein, High Fat 

26% protein is the perfect middle ground and should suit most dogs. If your pup needs more, you can always give him some protein-packed treats during the day. The fat level is great, at 16%, which is high enough for active pups to be as bouncy as they want to during the day. 

American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Runner-Up Option

American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Overall Rating90%
High-Quality Animal Protein95%
Added Vitamins & Minerals85%
Avoids Common Allergens90%
No Synthetic Ingredients90%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Various flavours available 
  • Super affordable 
  • Contains DHA 
  • High-quality single animal protein source

CONS

  • May not be suitable if your pooch is sensitive to legumes 
  • Fat level may be too low for active pups

If you want your pooch to be eating well but you also don’t want to spend a fortune on food, this food is a great choice. As long as your pup can deal with legumes, they’ll be getting a good amount of protein, fat, as well as a little dose of DHA. It’s suitable for dogs of all ages, breeds, and activity levels too, so there’s nothing not to like.

Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement

Best Immune Supplement

Overall Rating90%
High-Quality Animal Protein95%
Added Vitamins & Minerals90%
Avoids Common Allergens90%
No Synthetic Ingredients90%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Provides an immune boost to help prevent allergies 
  • 90 chews per bottle 
  • Contain vitamins, minerals, probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants 
  • Available in 2 different flavours 

CONS

  • Exceeding the recommended dose could have adverse results

Yes, we know… This doesn’t count as a food, although they could definitely count as a treat in between meals. If your fluff has bad allergies, a separate allergy-fighting immune supplement could be just what they need. These flavoured bites are packed with healthy stuff to build your dog’s immune system and lower the chances of allergies and tear stains.

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Vitamin-Packed Treat Bites  

There’s a bunch of great ingredients in these, including salmon oil, apple cider vinegar, and colostrum. These not only contribute to a nice taste for your fluff, they’re seriously healthy. 

A five-strain probiotic blend improves digestive health, and the mix of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants bolster the immune system nicely. 

The salmon oil also adds a dose of DHA and EPa, which have great anti-inflammatory properties. 

The best part is that they are also a natural antihistamine, which should help quite a lot to reduce watery, itchy eyes, which will in turn help reduce and prevent tear stains. 

Great Nutritional Value, No Glucosamine 

Your fluff will be getting 25% protein in each meal, from great quality animal sources. The fat level sits at 12%, which may be a little low if your dog is quite active. You can supplement with a couple of high-fat treats in between meals to give them the energy they need for their day. 

There’s a dash of DHA which is always a great thing to see, and the Omega fatty acid levels are decent and will help keep your pet’s coat and skin smooth and hydrated. The only thing you won’t see here is glucosamine, so if your pooch needs it you’ll have to buy separately. 

Flavour Range 

It’s always awesome to see a limited ingredient food that offers a variety of flavours. Pups need options too! It also makes it easy to avoid ingredients that your dog might react badly to, although all these recipes have legumes in them. 

Choose from Salmon & Sweet Potato, Duck & Sweet Potato, Lamb & Sweet Potato, Turkey & Sweet Potato, and Venison & Sweet Potato. Yes, that’s a lot of sweet potato, but it’s a fantastic carb source and not a common allergen. 

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food

Best With Antioxidants & Vitamins

Overall Rating89%
High-Quality Animal Protein90%
Added Vitamins & Minerals95%
Avoids Common Allergens85%
No Synthetic Ingredients90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Contain LifeSource Bits which are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, & minerals 
  • A few different recipes are available so your pooch won’t get bored 
  • Single source animal proteins with both whole meat and meat meal 
  • Has a puppy-specific option too!

CONS

  • May not be great for pets who are sensitive to potatoes 

If you’re looking for something to-the-point but packed with immune-boosting vitamins, this limited ingredient option from Blue Buffalo is it. Although all the formulas contain potato, the single source protein, slow-burning carbs, and added vitamin and minerals bits make this great for dogs who need some help strengthening their immune system to help fix tear stains.

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LifeSource Bits 

Blue Buffalo’s exclusive LifeSource Bits set them a little apart from other brands. These bits are a mix of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that have been created by animal nutritionists and holistic veterinarians. 

They’re designed to strengthen and support the immune system, which is an important part of the mission to reduce tear stains. They maintain a healthy oxidative balance and support dogs at all life stages. 

Just a little extra dose of vitamins and minerals can be a huge help when it comes to reducing allergies, staying healthy, and keeping the body in prime condition to reduce the chances of tear stains. 

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food With Vitamins & Minerals For All Breeds 

Best For Large Breeds

Overall Rating89%
High-Quality Animal Protein95%
Added Vitamins & Minerals85%
Avoids Common Allergens90%
No Synthetic Ingredients90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Possible to avoid most common allergens, including legumes 
  • Nice mix of flavours so your pooch can have some choice 
  • No grains, corn, soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, gluten, or artificial ingredients 
  • 9 ingredients per recipe 

CONS

  • Slightly on the pricey side 

Large breed dogs generally need a moderate amount of protein and a moderate to high fat count. These pellets have the perfect nutritional values for the bigger pups, and have a dose of joint-fortifying supplements included to keep those large joints strong.

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Moderate Protein, From Single Source 

With 26% protein, this is right on the button for large breed dogs. 16% fat will give them enough easy-to-access energy for their day, and their large frames will be supported by a great calcium/phosphorus level and a dash of glucosamine and chondroitin. 

The Omegas are also on the higher side. In conjunction with the limited ingredient list, this should help significantly to reduce allergies (both food and environmental) and help prevent tear stains in your large breed pooch.

American Journey Limited Ingredient Treats

Best Limited Ingredient Treat

Overall Rating88.75 %
High-Quality Animal Protein95%
Added Vitamins & Minerals85%
Avoids Common Allergens85%
No Synthetic Ingredients90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Protein-packed biscuits 
  • Single source protein 
  • Naturally preserved 
  • Good quality ingredients 

CONS

  • Contain legumes, so not suitable for all pets 

If your dog is eating a limited ingredient diet, it’s important to extend this philosophy to treats too, for the greatest effectiveness. These biscuits are made with a select few real food ingredients and will bring an extra bit of protein to your pup’s diet. 

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Low Calorie, High Protein 

At 28 calories each, you can feel totally okay about giving your pooch a couple of these during their day. They consist of 25% protein from a single source, with a couple of great, healthy veggies in there for taste and texture. 

Canidae Pure Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Wet Dog Food 

Best Wet Food

Overall Rating87%
High-Quality Animal Protein90%
Added Vitamins & Minerals85%
Avoids Common Allergens90%
No Synthetic Ingredients85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Various flavors allowing for easy avoidance of problem ingredients 
  • 9% protein, which is higher than most 
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or carrageenan 
  • Added probiotics and antioxidants 

CONS

  • Not great for pups who don’t do well with legumes  

This canned dog food is the wet version of our top pick. No matter what the flavour, there are 7 or fewer whole-food ingredients in each, with probiotics added after the cooking process so their quality is not compromised. This would be a super addition to Canidae dry kibble, but it would also be an amazing kibble topper for any other dry food.

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Higher In Protein Than Most 

With the exception of the lamb flavour, every one of these recipes contains 9% protein. The Lamb has 7%, which is more on par with the average canned food. 9% is higher than most, which is good to see. 

All flavours contain peas and sweet potato for sustained energy and extra flavour and texture. They’re all grain-free, just as an extra anti-sensitivity measure.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food

Best For Seniors

Overall Rating86%
High-Quality Animal Protein90%
Added Vitamins & Minerals80%
Avoids Common Allergens85%
No Synthetic Ingredients90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Human-grade, so it’s super healthy 
  • A variety of grain-free flavours for your pup 
  • Dehydrated ingredients helps preserve their integrity 
  • It’s possible to avoid most allergens including chicken, beef, and potatoes 

CONS

  • Expensive (although it makes four times the volume) 

This offering is best for active seniors who need something that’s still high protein, high fat, calorie-dense and all-natural. There are a few reasons this food is perfect for seniors. It’s of the highest quality, naturally preserved, comes in a few flavours, and is super soft for older pups to chow without teeth or jaw problems. 

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Human-Grade Quality 

The Honest Kitchen’s biggest selling point—the thing that makes them stand out from the rest—is the fact that their recipes could be prepared for your human family members as well as your pup. 

That’s how high-quality this meal is. It’s packed with real meat and vegetables, is high in protein (from 24% to 32% depending on recipe), has a great fat content for oldies of all activity levels (from 8,5% to 15%), and is preserved by dehydration, which means no nasty added chemicals.


Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria 1 – High-Quality Animal Protein Source

The protein source should always be what you see heading up the ingredient list. It should be ingredient number one and should be a high-quality animal protein. 

Although food sensitivities can play a part in tear stains, this depends very much on the individual dog. We haven’t avoided any particular protein on this list, because although some dogs may have certain allergies or sensitivities, not all of them will. 

As long as there’s a premium quality animal protein right up there and the protein count is decent, then we’re happy with that. This will ensure your pooch gets all the necessary amino acids they need in their diet. 

Criteria 2 – Added Vitamins & Minerals

Although tear stains can be caused by out-of-whack chemicals and vitamins and minerals in the body, there are some that can help. 

As long as your pup’s food isn’t laced with unnecessary stuff or packed way too full of extra vitamins and minerals, things like vitamin A, vitamin E, probiotics and prebiotics can help keep your dog’s immune system happy, tear ducts in good condition, and prevent the stains from appearing in the first place, or being made worse if they’re already there. 

Because tear stains can also be caused by infection, it’s important to keep your pet’s immune system as healthy as possible. 

Criteria 3 – Avoids Common Allergens

Food allergies and intolerances can cause various allergic reactions in pets, and these allergies can cause your pooch to suffer from more watery eyes than usual. This, in turn, can contribute to tear stains. 

It may be worthwhile switching foods to avoid common allergens if your pooch is having trouble with these stains. Chicken, beef, eggs, potatoes, and grains are quite common allergies, so if you think this may be part of the problem, switch your pup to a food with a different protein source or one without the ingredient you think could be the problem. 

Criteria 4 – No Synthetic Ingredients

Artificial colours and flavours in dog food can contribute to the appearance of these facial marks. The chemicals that are often added to commercial kibbles often cause an excess of iron-rich porphyrin molecules, which are secreted in your pup’s tears and leave reddish-brown stains. 

The best dog food for tear stains will be all-natural and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Foods like this aren’t hard to find, so whichever one you choose on this list, you can be sure your pup will be eating a chemical-free meal. 

Criteria 5 – Affordability

This criterion is aimed at puppy parents, considering your pet can hardly walk into the pet store and buy his own kibble. 

But we do believe in making both pets and pet parents as happy as possible, because if you’re feeling down, your pooch can sense it

That’s why it’s important not only that the food is of the highest quality, but also that the price is right for you. We’ve been honest about the prices of the foods on this list, and while some of them are a little high on that front, there are some seriously well-priced options. 

We also have a Best Value For Money option, which is just as high-quality as the rest for a much lower price. There’s something for everyone (and every dog) here. 


Questions & Answers

What are the causes of tear stains? 

There isn’t just one answer to this question. Basically, whatever the underlying cause, the actual staining is caused by excessive watering of the eyes. The fluid contains a pigment that stains the fur. 

Eye watering can sometimes be brought on by irritation, and sometimes because the tear ducts aren’t draining properly. This can be caused by: 

  • Eye infections 
  • Ingrown eyelashes 
  • Inward-turned eyelids 
  • Bulging eyes (some breeds are more prone to this than others) 
  • Excessive minerals in their water (this also causes stains around the mouth) 
  • Food or environmental allergies 

Anyone of these things could be the culprit when it comes to your pup, so you’ll need to pay some close attention to figure out what the actual problem is. 

If obvious physical causes are ruled out, then it’s a good idea to look at environmental allergies (dust, pollen, etc), and food allergies

Are certain breeds more susceptible to tear stains than others? 

Yes! Flat-faced dogs tend to suffer from these more than others, due to the abnormal shape of their faces and how that affects the growth and development of their tear ducts.

Pekingese, Pugs, Maltese, and other brachycephalic pooches are more at risk of developing these tear stains. Poodles and Spaniels seem to be most prone to blocked tear ducts. 

Dogs who are light in colour, especially on their faces, are not necessarily more at risk, but the staining will be far more noticeable on their fair fur. 

How do I know when my dog’s tear stains are a sign of something serious? 

If your pup’s tear ducts are working overtime, it’s generally something that should be fixed if possible. Watery eyes themselves are not dangerous, but it’s uncomfortable and not fun for your pooch.

If the tear stains on your dog’s face are accompanied by swollen or crusty eyes, a lot of fluid, or an unpleasant smell, then a vet’s visit is probably a good idea. 

Any other symptoms that come along with them could be cause for concern too. Tear stains don’t generally appear overnight, and other longer-term symptoms could be part of the same allergy or sensitivity. Sensitive tummies, reluctance to eat, and dull, dry fur could be signs of a food allergy. 

Coughing, sneezing, lack of energy, and itching in addition to these stains could be indications of an environmental allergy. 

If your pup has tear stain markings but is otherwise happy and healthy, then there should be no cause for concern. Just be sure to keep their eyes clean and dry, but if there are other additional symptoms, a vet’s once-over might be a good idea.

How does the best dog food for tear stains differ from other dog foods?

Whether or not the initial cause of your pup’s stains is food allergies, changing their diet can actually help reduce the chances of staining and keep allergies and irritations at bay. 

Dog foods that help tear staining are usually limited ingredient recipes that are all-natural and contain no synthetic ingredients that might mess with your pup’s system.

Limited ingredient doesn’t have to mean limited nutrition though. The recipes should be protein-packed and make use of slow-burning carbohydrates, while staying away from common allergens if possible. 

Things like probiotics, prebiotics, vitamin A, vitamin E, and Omega fatty acids are great for helping reduce or even prevent allergies. 

While there are many high-quality kibbles on the market,  the best dog food for tear stains will most likely contain fewer ingredients than most, with a nice dose of extra vitamins. 

What can I do apart from changing my dog’s diet to reduce and prevent these tears stains? 

Changing your dog’s diet is a good first step to getting rid of tear stains, but it’s not the only thing that you should be looking at. 

There are other things you can do to help your pup’s eye health improve, such as:

  • Facial grooming 

Keeping your pup’s facial hair trimmed (especially around the eyes) and giving his face a regular wash can make a huge difference. 

You can simply gently wash his face twice a day with a damp washcloth, or, if his eye problems are more severe, you can use a canine eye-wash. There are different ways to use these – you can either flush out the eyes or just give them a rub underneath and around with a cotton ball.

  • Use filtered water 

If your pup is a messy drinker, try to keep his mouth and chest dry after he’s been at the water bowl. Reducing moisture on his fur can help reduce staining quite a bit. If this is tricky, he may benefit from using a doggy water dispenser instead of a bowl.

Speaking of water, staining can occur as a result of excess minerals in your pet’s water. Filling his bowl with filtered or purified water instead of just tap water can fix this issue. 

As for removing the stains that are already there, you can find products on the market that claim to do so. Be very careful, though, that you aren’t using something with unhealthy or dangerous chemicals in it. An all-natural product will work the best.

We would advise simply taking measures to improve your dog’s health and letting the current stains grow out. If you are feeding your pooch a great quality food, healthy water, and giving them a regular face groom, the tear stains shouldn’t come back.