Tears stain white puppies more than dark coated puppies

7 Tips for Dealing with Shihpoo Tear Stains

Both our Shihpoos are prone to tear stains below the inside portion of their eyes, and this can concern many owners. It can look “icky,” but you might also worry about eye health issues. Eye discharge is common among Shihpoos, but there are ways to prevent, treat and clean the area. What can you do…

Tears stain white puppies more than dark coated puppies
Courtesy of AKC

Both our Shihpoos are prone to tear stains below the inside portion of their eyes, and this can concern many owners. It can look “icky,” but you might also worry about eye health issues. Eye discharge is common among Shihpoos, but there are ways to prevent, treat and clean the area.

What can you do about Shihpoo eye discharge and tear stains?

  1. Wipe the area at least daily
  2. Keep face trimmed Poodle style
  3. Serve a low-grain, high-meat and high-raw vegetable diet
  4. Add probiotics to diet
  5. Clean with cotton balls soaked in contact lens saline solution
  6. Pat and wipe with cotton balls soaked in liquid Vitamin C
  7. Use a mixture of Milk of Magnesia, lemon juice and corn starch to remove the stain

Preventing Shihpoo Tear Stains and Eye Discharge

Brownish tear stains are typically nothing to be concerns about. They result from naturally-occurring dye molecules present in abundance in many dog’s tears, called porphyrins. Because porphyrin contains iron, it can stain your puppy’s fur brown.

If the stain is much more of a reddish color, then it is likely that your puppy’s constantly wet fur has led to a yeast infection, which a veterinarian can treat with oral medications.

Follow these steps, and you will eliminate most tear stain and eye discharge issues of concern:

Wipe Shihpoo’s Tear Stained Area Twice a Day

While simple and straightforward, this suggestion requires discipline to follow through on. Make it a habit to wipe your Shihpoo’s tear duct areas in the morning and after dinner with a clean, warm, slightly-damp washcloth.

Even when your Shihpoo has a long trim, this simple habit can prevent the majority of problems with tear stains. Be sure to use a clean washrag every time, since you don’t want to be wiping puppy’s eyes with a washcloth that has effectively become a Petri dish by growing its own bacteria since the previous wiping.

This might seem like an obvious move to get rid of tear stains. The reality is that this method does not get rid of the stains. It removes most of the eye discharge (tears) with the stain-causing components. Because it takes two to four weeks for the Shihpoo’s hair to grow enough to notice the difference, many owners give up on this method after just a week or so, believing it is not making a difference. Stick with it. It is easy, affordable and eventually effective.

Trimming Minimizes Your Shihpoo’s Tear Stains

This suggestion seems like it would solve all tear stain problems in your Shihpoo. After all, if there is no nose hair to stain, there is no more concern, right? That said, keeping the face trimmed Poodle-style can be very demanding, though.

Courtesy of RedAndApricotPoodles.com

Even with a trimmed or closely-cropped face, your Shihpoo will still need you to wipe twice daily around its eyes to avoid build up of bacteria and yeast.

The Holistic Diet Recommendations for Minimizing Shihpoo Eye Discharge

If you hold to the belief in holistic diets and care for your Shihpoo, you will want to minimize foods high in grains while feeding your puppy more meats and raw vegetable-based foods. Some holistic veterinarians believe such a diet minimizes the output of stain-causing tears.

Not all veterinarians promote this type of preventative treatment, so you can decide for yourself after doing some additional reading if it is for you and your puppy. I like this article for its research and directness.

Some Veterinarians Recommend Probiotics to Minimize Eye Discharge and Tear Stains

Just as the human gastro-intestinal track requires a variety of living micro-organisms for healthy digestion, some veterinarians recommend giving your puppy a probiotic supplement that you can find in soft chews online or at a local pet store. These vets say such supplements can aid the puppy’s digestive health. Some even recommend human probiotics, but there are current no studies to determine any benefits or harm from such treatment.

From the holistic health point of view, some veterinarians believe promoting a healthier GI track leads to less eye discharge and, consequently, less severe tear stains.

Treating Shihpoo Tear Stains and Eye Discharge

If you already have a Shihpoo with tear stains, you are likely looking for a solution to removing the dark streaks below your puppy’s eyes. The first solution is literally a solution, followed by a paste to apply as a second possible fix for the stains.

Home Remedy #1 to Clean Shihpoo’s Tear Stains-Contact Lens Solution

This first solution is recommended by many many veterinarians. Start with a clean cotton ball and moisten with a contact lens cleaning solution containing boric acid (found over-the-counter at just about any pharmacy or department store).  Pat the stained area with the soaked cotton ball and then wipe away from the dog’s eyes.

Courtesy of MicroFinanceJournal.com

Do not use the cotton ball surface more than once as you may accidentally rub some of the discharge stuck to the cotton ball back into your puppies eyes, leading to a possible infection.

Home Remedy #2 to Clean Shihpoo’s Tear Stains: Vitamin C

Using a liquid Vitamin C solution on a cotton ball, similar to home remedy #1 described above is your third option. Apparently, the citric acid in such a solution will counter the oxidizing process involved in the tear stains.

Courtesy of Unsplash.com

That makes sense, since citric acid is literally called an anti-oxidant. That is not to say that you can rub orange juice or lemon juice on your dogs tear stains to treat them. Even if they worked, would you want to change a burning and sticking eye if your hand slipped? Would you want lemon juice near your eyes?

Home Remedy #3 to Clean Shihpoo’s Tear Stains-You Got to Try This

Speaking of lemon juice, this remedy actually does use it as one of the three equally-proportioned ingredients. This is a paste solution, rather than a liquid solution. Mix together equal parts Milk of Magnesia (yes, THAT Milke of Magnesia, lemon juice and corn starch).

Gently apply to the stains once a day. Do not leave in for extended periods of time, but rather wipe the area thoroughly with a cotton ball soaked in saline solution. Continue daily applications until you achieve the desired results.


Some blogs might recommend using a hydrogen-peroxide solution to “bleach” our your Shihpoo’s tear stains. After all, it might make sense on some level that what is good for achieving “bleach-blond hair” at the beach would work for your dog. We advise against it.

Undiluted hydrogen-peroxide can cause at least temporary damage to the eye’s cornea, not to mention pain and redness. Your dog does not need to experience any of these, especially with the other solutions recommended above.

You will find several veterinarians who recommend that you minimize the use of any Tylosin-based tear stain removal product for your Shihpoo, calling them ineffective or even harmful.

Other veterinarians suggest that Tylosin-based tear stain treatment products can be effective when used on the types of tear stains caused by a bacterium but ineffective on those stains resulting from yeast.

Some products natural-facing products can use things like Chamomile extract in a saline solution to remove the gunk that causes the stains. It does not bleach your Shihpoo’s hair. So, like the solutions above, you may need to use it for two to four weeks before you notice the change as your dog’s hair grows.

Related Questions

What should you do if your Shihpoo’s eye discharge and tear stains smell?
If you notice an odor originating from your Shihpoo’s eye discharge and tear stain area, contact your veterinarian. Odors can be a sign of infection in the eye and not just normal tearing issues. Also look for other signs of infection, including bloodshot or red eyes.

Should you be concerned about stains around your Shihpoo’s mouth?
Stains around your Shihpoo’s mouth may call for regularly wiping the area with a warm, damp clothe after meals. Some owners recommend a change in diet that minimizes foods high in grains to prevent staining.

Published September 25, 2019

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