The Best Dog Food for Tear Stains in 2021 (Top 8 Picks)

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

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall for Tear Stains: Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
“This limited ingredient dog food help you avoid allergens that cause tear stains without being stuck to just one food option. It has a variety of flavor combinations to choose from using very few, premium quality ingredients.”

Best Food Supplement for Tear Stains: Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement
“Reinforce your dog’s diet with a healthy food supplement that helps boost his immune system so he’s got extra protection from allergy-inducing food ingredients. These soft chews aren’t just tasty treats for your pooch, they also reduce the chances of allergies and prevent tear stains.

Best Value for Money: Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach
“Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach has good quality ingredients for its price. It is specially made for sensitive skin and stomach and is ideal for multi-dog families so you can avoid tear stains in more than just one pup.”

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There are several factors that cause dog tear stains, and while it’s more prevalent in dogs with lighter fur, almost all dog breeds can suffer from this condition.

Excessive tearing that produces stains and discoloration around your dog’s eyes is not exactly life threatening. But it may indicate some underlying health issues that are causing pain and discomfort to your little pooch without you even knowing.

We’ve rounded up some nutritious and effective dog foods that can alleviate chronic tearing. If changing their diet to eliminate tear stains doesn’t work, consult a vet to see if other health conditions may be causing it.

Product Name
Best Overall For Most Dogs
Best Food Supplement for Tear Stains
Best Value for Money
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Salmon and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement for Dogs - with Omega 3 Wild Alaskan Salmon Fish Oil & EpiCor + Digestive Prebiotics & Probiotics - Anti Itch & Skin Hot Spots + Seasonal Allergies - 90 Chews
Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs, Salmon & Rice Formula - 41 lb. Bag
Rating
Our Rating 93 / 100
Our Rating 92 / 100
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Probiotics and antioxidants are added after cooking to preserve their effectiveness
Contain vitamins, minerals, probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants
Affordable dog food formula specifically created for dogs with extra sensitive skin and stomach
Pro 2
Wide variety of flavor options makes it easy to avoid allergens without being limited in choice
Provides an immune boost to help prevent allergies
No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives
Best Overall For Most Dogs
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Salmon and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
Rating
Our Rating 93 / 100
Pro 1
Probiotics and antioxidants are added after cooking to preserve their effectiveness
Pro 2
Wide variety of flavor options makes it easy to avoid allergens without being limited in choice
Custom Button
Best Food Supplement for Tear Stains
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement for Dogs - with Omega 3 Wild Alaskan Salmon Fish Oil & EpiCor + Digestive Prebiotics & Probiotics - Anti Itch & Skin Hot Spots + Seasonal Allergies - 90 Chews
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Contain vitamins, minerals, probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants
Pro 2
Provides an immune boost to help prevent allergies
Custom Button
Best Value for Money
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs, Salmon & Rice Formula - 41 lb. Bag
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Affordable dog food formula specifically created for dogs with extra sensitive skin and stomach
Pro 2
No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives
Custom Button
Sources researched
17
Sources researched
Customer reviews
16,346
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
18
Hours spent testing
Products tested
8
Products tested

Best Dog Food For Tear Stains

Here are our top recommendations for the best dog food for tear stains:

1. Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best Overall for Tear Stains: Grain free, limited ingredient formulation that avoids problem ingredients which cause tear stains

Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Salmon and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
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PROS

  • Wide variety of flavor options 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 flavor
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients 

CONS

  • A little on the pricey side

Allergies trigger chronic tearing and one way to prevent them is by avoiding ingredients that your pooch may be sensitive to. A grain free limited ingredient dog food like this one does exactly that. With great nutritional values, high protein and fat, high Omegas, and a splash of joint-strengthening supplements, this kibble is suitable for just about any dog who wants to reduce tear stains.

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 these recipes is not only the flavor range, but the fact that they cater for every dog at any life stage. They have formulas for puppies (added DHA), seniors (extra vitamins and minerals), weight management (low in fat), and small breeds. 

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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. 

2. Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement

Best Food Supplement for Tear Stains: Grain free soft chews that boosts your dog’s immune system to prevent allergies causing tear stains

Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement for Dogs - with Omega 3 Wild Alaskan Salmon Fish Oil & EpiCor + Digestive Prebiotics & Probiotics - Anti Itch & Skin Hot Spots + Seasonal Allergies - 90 Chews
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PROS

  • Provides an immune boost to help prevent allergies 
  • Contain vitamins, minerals, probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants 
  • Has a rich blend of omega fatty acids for added skin and immune support
  • Has added colostrum, a substance that protects your dogs from allergies

CONS

  • Exceeding the recommended dose could have adverse results

If you don’t want to change your dog’s current diet but you want to reduce his tearing that causes stains, you can give him a food supplement like the Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Bites. It can be introduced to your pup as a treat in between meals.

These flavored bites are packed with healthy stuff to build your dog’s immune system and lower the chances of allergies and tear stains.

There’s a bunch of great ingredients in these, including salmon oil, apple cider vinegar, and colostrum. 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. 

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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. 

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. 

3. Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food

Best Value for Money: An affordable dog food formula specifically created for dogs with extra sensitive skin and stomach

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs, Salmon & Rice Formula - 41 lb. Bag
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PROS

  • Good protein and fat levels for the average fairly active dog 
  • Added prebiotic fiber and fish oil for better digestion
  • 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

Getting rid of tear stains doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food can help you protect your dog who has an extra sensitive skin and stomach from allergies. It has a rich blend of omega fatty acids which nourish your dog’s skin and coat. It also contains natural prebiotic fiber that promotes growth of healthy intestinal bacteria which gives your dog’s stomach additional immunity from allergy-causing ingredients.

It’s ideal for multi-dog families who are looking to reduce tear stains in one or all of their pups.

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Good Quality Ingredients For Its Price 

Although there’s only one flavor, the ingredients are decent and avoid most common stuff that causes digestive upset. A single source protein, limited ingredient diet is always highly recommended for preventing allergies. This food uses premium quality animal ingredients like deboned salmon and salmon meal to ensure your pooch is safe from problem proteins. 

4. Acana Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best For All Life stages: Protects dogs from serious allergies no matter which life stage they’re at

ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Duck & Pear, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
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PROS

  • Fantastic recipe range for healthy flavour options 
  • High in protein and fats to provide proper nourishment while avoiding allergies
  • Contain DHA, EPA, and glucosamine & chondroitin 

CONS

  • Somewhat pricey

The Acana Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food is formulated for dogs at any life stage. It’s a nutrient-dense grain free dry dog food that is highly concentrated in protein, fat, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidants. All of these nutrients come from high quality ingredients that are proven safe and nutritious for dogs of any breed.

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Same Main Values Across All Recipes 

The nutritional value across the recipe range remains consistent – 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. 

Both small and large breed puppies, adults, and senior dogs benefit from joint supplements, and DHA, which 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.

5. American Journey Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best for Eye Support: Rich in Vitamin A and DHA which promotes healthy eyesight and prevent eye-related issues

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PROS

  • Great flavor variety with delicious ingredient combinations your pup will enjoy
  • Contains DHA and Vitamin A which fortifies your dog’s eye health
  • High-quality single animal protein source that’s proven safe

CONS

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

American Journey Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food is suitable for dogs of all ages, breeds, and activity levels. It uses a single animal protein source to ensure your pup don’t encounter any problem proteins which can trigger allergic reactions.

It offers a complete and balanced nourishment while avoiding ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, legumes, or anything artificial. You can guarantee there’s only natural, freshly sourced ingredients in this food

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This dog food contains flaxseed and sunflower oil which are both incredible sources of omega fatty acids. These substances ensure your dog’s skin and coat stay healthy, well-nourished, and protected from skin allergies.

6. Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best Immune Boost: Rich in vitamins and antioxidants that keep your dog’s immune system strong

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet, Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Duck & Potato 22-lb
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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 

CONS

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

Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food is packed with immune-boosting vitamins that help protect your dog from allergies which cause tear stains.

It’s single source protein formula combined with slow-burning carbs, and contains added vitamin and minerals bits making this great for dogs who need help strengthening their immune system to reduce 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. 

7. Merrick Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food 

Best For Easy Digestion: Uses lamb which is highly digestible protein source, ideal for dogs who suffer from tear stains as well as digestive issues

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food Real Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe - 22 lb. Bag
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PROS

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

CONS

  • Slightly on the pricey side 

Dogs who have trouble with digestion and suffer from tear stains as well can benefit from Merrick Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food. It provides dogs a well-balanced diet that help prevent allergies causing tear stains. It also comes with a good dose of joint-fortifying supplements to keep their joints strong and healthy.

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Moderate Protein, From Single Source 

26% protein content is enough to support and maintain muscle mass. 16% fat content will give them enough easy-to-access energy for their day. There’s also a good amount of glucosamine and the right ratio of calcium and phosphorus for added joints and bone support. 

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 pooch.

8. The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dehydrated Dog Food

Best Dog Food Topper: Human grade dog food processed minimally to retain flavor and nutrients which reduces risk of allergies

The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Grain Free Dog Food – Complete Meal or Dog Food Topper – Beef 10 lb (makes 40 lbs)
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PROS

  • Human-grade, so it’s guaranteed safe for your pooch
  • A variety of grain-free flavors to choose from for your picky eater pup 
  • Dehydrated ingredients helps preserve their nutritional integrity 
  • Avoids most allergens including chicken, beef, and potatoes 

CONS

  • Expensive (although it makes four times the volume) 

The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dehydrated Dog Food is a perfect kibble topper that’s high in protein, and fat, calorie-dense and uses all-natural ingredients.

It’s naturally preserved, comes in a few flavours, and is super soft which adds a nice texture to your dog’s usual kibble.

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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.


Different Causes of Tear Stains in Dogs

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


Key Elements to Consider When Choosing the Best Dog Food for Tear Stains

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 


Other Ways You Can Do to Help Prevent Tear 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. 

Questions & Answers

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. 

Mike Powell

Mike is an avid dog lover and writer. He’s based in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up in a household surrounded by pets. He’s been a dog owner all his life and he uses this extensive experience of having dogs as part of his family to share valuable, practical tips to improve other people’s dog parenting experience.