Why do Cavapoos get tear staining?

cavapoo dog tear staining
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    We are lucky that due to Rosie’s ruby red coat, her tear staining is not so noticeable, but with lighter coated Cavapoos, you can often see these unsightly stains beneath their eyes.

    Cavapoos commonly develop reddish-brown tear stains underneath their eyes. Sometimes the stains are related to your dog’s diet, can be a sign of allergies or caused by blocked tear ducts. To remedy tear stains, you should wash your dog’s face daily.

    Both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Poodles are prone to tear staining, so it makes sense that your Cavapoo will be too. Do not fear, however, as there are plenty of remedies and simple steps that you can take to minimize the effects of your Cavapoos tear staining. Below we explain more.

    Why do dogs get tear stains?

    Tear staining is a physical problem which is common in short-nosed dogs such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It is caused when the tear ducts block or narrow so that the tears cannot flow and drain as normal.

    Some dogs, especially Poodles, produce too much of a pigment-containing molecule called Porphyrins, that can be found in dog tears and cause the staining. These molecules contain iron, which creates the red coloration, and gets darker when exposed to sunlight.

    Porphyrins are usually excreted via your dog’s digestive system, urine, saliva, and tears which is why you may also notice tear staining on your dog’s muzzle, nose and paws, right between the toes.

    Although darker coated dogs, like our Rosie, can also suffer from tear stains, the marks are a lot harder to distinguish.

    Main causes of tear stains in dogs

    There are many reasons why your Cavapoo may be more prone to tear staining than others. This could be due to:

    • Eye infections: Infections caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites can lead to a heavy discharge from the eye. We experienced this ourselves a whilst back when our Cavapoo had an eye infection. Her eyes were oozing a lot more, although rather than the normal reddish-brown staining you see, her discharge was yellow.
    • Ear infections: Something as simple as an ear infection can cause the eye on the same side of the head to tear more than usual. Look out for strong smells coming from the ear as this is often a sure sign of an infection.
    • Ingrown eyelashes: Just like us humans, sometimes our eyelashes can invert and rub against the surface of the eye, causing irritation and damage.
    • Irritants: Dust, smoke and washing detergents can all cause your Cavapoos eyes to water.
    • Allergies: Allergic reactions to the environment can also affect your dog’s eyes.
    • Diet: Food that is packed full of grains often irritate a dog’s digestive system and are common allergens, causing reactions such as excessive tear production.
    • Teething: When your Cavapoo puppy starts to teeth, they produce more tears and the tear staining often becomes more noticeable. This should pass once your dog’s adult teeth start to push their way through.
    • Predisposed breeds: There are some breeds of dog that are born with smaller ducts and shallow eye sockets which makes them susceptible to tear staining.

    If you do notice that your dog’s eyes are staining more than usual, then you should first consult your veterinarian, to rule out any underlying health concerns.

    What to do about dog tear stains?

    If the cause of dog tear stains is a medical one such as infection, your vet will prescribe medication as required in order to treat the condition. They may also recommend an eyewash in which to bathe and cool the eyes. These will only be temporary solutions but should solve the infection issue.

    In the case of allergies or irritants, it is really important that you find the source of the problem. Once the allergen or irritant has been identified, treated, or removed, then you should start to see the excess tear staining reduce.
    The same goes for the type of food you feed your dog. It is a good idea to study the ingredients on the packaging to ensure that you are feeding your Cavapoo a good quality, balanced meal.

    Cavapoos are renowned for having sensitive stomachs and very discerning tastes, so if you would like to know what is the best dog food for a Cavapoo, then check out our informative guide as we explain the different types of dog foods available and their overall nutritional value.

    cavapoo tear stains

    Top tips for treating your Cavapoos tear stains

    Although we cannot completely prevent our dog’s from producing tear stains, there are plenty of things you can do to make them look less unsightly. Here are our top tips for dog tear staining:

    1. Clean the eyes daily – We use cooled boiled and cotton wool to gently wipe away any build-up that Rosie may have around her eyes. If we get to them quickly enough then they are easy to wash away but sometimes you may need to apply a bit of pressure or use a fingernail to scrap away the hardened staining. Rosie is used to us doing this regularly, but I always try and keep her distracted her with treats or attempt to clean her eyes when she is calm and sleepy.
    2. Keep the hair around the eyes short – we always ask our groomer to shave Rosie’s hair relatively short between the eyes and on the muzzle. This way it stops the staining from getting matted in her beautiful curls.
    3. Wash and clean your home regularly – It is important that you make sure that your home and dogs bed is hoovered, cleaned and aired regularly. Try to avoid using softeners and conditioners as these can irritate your dog’s skin and always choose to wash on a high heat instead.
    4. Try a different dog food. Make sure that you feed your Cavapoo a high-quality, grain-free diet. Often corn, wheat, and other grains are used in meals as fillers in inferior-quality dog foods, and do not ensure long-term good health for your pet. Some can even cause allergic reactions, resulting in excess tearing and other problems.

    Natural remedies for dog tear stains

    There is no quick fix when it comes to reducing the amount of tear staining your dog produces, however, if you are not keen on shop-bought products there are some natural remedies that you can try.

    These mentioned below are completely chemical-free and offer an alternative solution to antibiotics and anti-histamines. Please note, however, that I have not personally tried any of these home remedies as Rosie has very minimal tear staining.

    Also, it is important to note that if your dog is in any pain or you notice that your dog’s eyes are staining more than usual, then please visit your veterinarian for advice.

    Regardless of whether you are using natural remedies or not you should always ensure that you wipe your Cavapoos face so that it is as clean as possible each day.

    • Chamomile: You can then soak some chamomile tea bags in boiled water and once cold, apply it to a wet cotton wool ball. Gently stroke the area around your dog’s eye to help remove any bacteria and relieve any symptoms of itching and burning.
    • Filtered or bottled water: In addition to this, you can also try giving your Cavapoo filtered or bottled water, rather than pouring water straight from the tap. This will help to reduce the high mineral content often present in tap water, and in turn, reduce the tear staining.
    • Apple-cider vinegar: Another remedy that you can try is to give your Cavapoo apple-cider vinegar in with their water or food – but beware it is bitter so needs to be well hidden. Simply by adding a teaspoon of distilled apple cider vinegar to your dog’s daily diet can increase the acidity of their body pH level and remove excess yeast.
    • Blueberries: Blueberries are a superfood thanks to their anti-oxidants and can help with removing your dog’s tear stains. They are high in minerals, vitamins and fiber and dogs love them as a snack, thanks to their incredibly sweet taste.

    Does Kefir work for dog tear staining?

    Some dog owners swear that by using Kefir daily really helps to clear up tear staining. This is not something we have ever needed to try, but if you are interested in seeing the results for yourself then Kefir can be bought at most superstores and is generally located near the yoghurts and milk.

    Kefir is a probiotic (see on Amazon) so in addition to helping with yeast build up and tear staining, it is also good for the digestive system. It is best given either frozen in ice cubes or added to a bowl of food.

    We advise not to give any more than 1-2 tablespoons of Kefir a day, depending on the weight of your dog.


    So as you can see tear staining is a common problem, especially with Cavapoos, and isn’t something that you should be too alarmed about.

    Most Cavapoos suffer from tear staining as it is hereditary, but you are more likely to notice it on dogs with white or lightly-colored coats. For this reason, you should always examine your dog’s eyes closely for signs of anything out of the ordinary.

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