Curious how to clean tear stains on poodles? As well as being calm, compassionate, and intelligent, poodles are regarded as one of the healthiest breeds of dogs. They’re beautiful animals that, as their owners all know, are a joy to have in your home. While their curly, dense snowy white fur is another delightful feature that breed enthusiasts love, they are also prone to developing dark red, brown, or even black spots on the fur beneath their eyes. Sometimes, these spots are even wet or damp to the touch. While being unsightly, they can also be a sign of certain other health problems.

If you’re concerned about your poodle’s tear stains, you’re in the right place. We’re going to tackle the details on tear stains, including what they are, what causes them, and how to remove them painlessly, restoring your pup’s flawless complexion.

What are Tear Stains?

Tear stains are dark red, brown, or black discolored hair under one or both eyes. Many times, you’ll also see discharge on the areas, though that isn’t always the case. While it’s more obvious in lighter colored poodles, many assume it only affects them. However, it’s just as prevalent in all poodles, whatever their fur color. Tear stains are caused by an overflow of tears from the eyes onto your dog’s face, also known as epiphora.

Epiphora isn’t (usually) a medical condition on its own but rather presents as a symptom of an underlying condition that requires some attention from your vet. While it’s very commonly seen in poodles, tear stains can be simply a cosmetic issue. However, there is the risk that they could be an indication of something more serious, like a corneal ulcer (trauma to the eye’s surface layer), glaucoma, or infection.

Unfortunately, those aren’t all the things you need to look out for! If left untreated, tear stains can lead to chronically damp fur. This makes a perfect environment for bacteria or fungal infection to grow, even putting your dog at risk for a yeast infection.

Most Common Causes

While commonly seen in the breed, poodle tear stains are no joke. Tear staining is caused by excessive tearing, which can have many causes on their own. The most common causes of excessive tearing are:

  • Allergic reactions to environmental stimuli
  • Reactions to ingredients in their food
  • Teething
  • Tear duct blockage
  • Eye infections
  • Eyelash infection or abnormality
  • Ear infections
  • Eyelid abnormalities

If your dog has developed seasonal allergies or is prone to epiphora for other health reasons, you may not be able to completely stop tear stains from happening even with medication. You can, however, treat the tear stains it causes.

Cleaning Tear Stains

After you’ve addressed the underlying issue for your poodle’s tear stains, it’s time to tackle the unsightly spots themselves. Some people recommend home treatments including hydrogen peroxide or even bleach to scrub the fur clean. Don’t do this! You shouldn’t put any harsh chemicals next to your poodle’s sensitive eyes.

We recommend researching specialty products designed to be pet-safe and allergy-friendly to address poodle tear staining. Combining hypoallergenic plant-based ingredients - including coconut oil, avocado oil, zinc oxide, and shea butter - our specially-formulated Tear Stain Paste caters to dogs with sensitive skin and perfect for even the most allergy-prone pet.

  1. Trim the Fur

With a small pair of scissors (and a lot of patience), you can carefully cut around the discolored fur around the eyes. Be very careful and if your animal is very skittish, you may want to have this done by a groomer

2. Clean the Affected Area

You can use a damp cloth to start the process, though we recommend using our Squishface Wrinkle Wipes to make sure the area is free of bacteria and any infectious agents. Do not use water or shampoo but do be careful to keep it out of the dog’s eyes. Some poodles are prone to tearing more than other dog breeds. You’ll want to clean your dog’s eyes regularly if you notice this!

3. Thoroughly Dry the Skin

Once you’ve cleaned any discharge or moisture from the area, take a small towel and make sure the area isn’t soaked before you apply anything else to it.

4. Apply Topical Treatment

A topical paste works best for treatment in these areas. Our Tear Stain Paste is great for the curly, coarse texture of poodle fur. Additionally, the paste creates a water-repellent barrier to keep moisture – and the potential for bacteria or fungal growth – at bay!

5. Wipe Away the Excess

You’ll only need to apply about a pea-sized amount of paste to the area under each eye. Be careful not to over-apply or get the product into your pup’s eyes. Once you’ve covered the stained area, wipe away any extra.

6. Reapply Daily for 7-10 Days

The combination of natural zinc oxide and coconut oil creates a water-repellent barrier that keeps moisture, fungus, and bacteria out. That means you only need to apply the paste once every 24 hours. Continue application daily for 7-10 days OR until the tear stains disappear completely.

Why It Works So Well

One benefit of using Squishface Tear Stain Paste is that it can be used on other discolored areas of fur – like around the mouth or on the paws. Wherever your poodle experiences discoloration or staining on their fur, Squishface is there to help you handle it!

For more tips, tricks, and favorite products, roll over to the Squishface Blog. Don’t forget to check back in every week for even more canine content!