Toy poodles, miniature poodles and standard poodles, especially light-colored or white ones, can get staining on the fur around their eye. While in most cases this is nothing to worry about, in some cases it can be caused by illness, allergy, a blocked tear duct, ingrown eyelashes or infection, so it’s super important that you ask your poodle’s vet if this is the case before trying to lessen the appearance of tear stains at home.
However, in most cases, poodles are simply prone to staining around the fur of the eye and it does not cause them discomfort or pain.
It’s important to know that a lot of similar articles recommend using Hydrogen peroxide to remove tear staining, but this is not safe to use and if it comes into contact with eyes can cause pain and damage. While hydrogen peroxide will remove stains, the chemicals in this are too strong and it is not worth risking your poodle’s eye health for a cosmetic issue.
It is especially important to get your poodle’s eyes checked by a vet if you notice that your poodle’s eyes are bloodshot, swollen, seeping any pus or if your poodle displays signs of discomfort or pain in the eye area, such as trying to scratch their eyes with their paws or against surfaces.
The reason why this tends to affect lighter colored poodles and not dark ones is simply that dark poodles, like black and brown ones, do not show staining as much. Their darker fur disguises the staining due to higher amounts of pigment.
Why do a poodles get stained eyes?
Once any medical problem has been ruled out by a vet, the simple reason for your poodle’s eye area getting stained is that your poodle’s eyes are watering and getting the fur around the eyes wet. Dog tears contain various chemicals that can stain fur, from salt in the tears to iron and magnesium, which oxidise in the air when left on the fur leaving a reddish brown stain.
There is a worry that these patches as they do not fully dry out, can cause fungi and bacteria to breed, putting your dog’s eyes at an increased risk. As these nasty bugs can cream into the eye from the fur, causing irritation or infection in worst cases.
Another factor is that because toy poodles, miniature poodles and standard poodles fur does not shed, if the fur is left to grow untrimmed, the fur around the eyes can grow so long that it irritates the eyes, leading to increased tearing and running. You should be very careful it you want to trim this longer hair in the eye area and not put shark scissors close to your poodle’s eyes unless you are experienced with handling and grooming dogs, as a sudden movement could harm you poodle’s delicate eye area. You should ideally be taking your poodle to be professionally groomed every 6-8 weeks to keep their fur the right length and keep it out of their eyes.
Something else that can affect how stained your poodle’s eyes get is actually the sort of water your poodle is drinking. If you live in an area with very hard water this can increase your poodle’s consumption of the minerals that cause eye staining, so if you think this could be causing eye staining you should give your poodle filtered or bottled water if the stains are really bothering you.
Tear stains are usually caused by dye molecules called porphyrins. These are harmless red-colored minerals that derive from iron naturally being broken down in your dog’s body. These porphyrins are found in dog saliva, tears and urine and will stain light-colored fur a reddish color anytime it is left on the fur for a longer time period. Sunlight can also make these stains worse, making them darker and more difficult to remove.
Something that can affect the amount of staining is your dog’s diet, as the diet directly relates to the mineral composition of tears, alive, and urine. So, you need to ensure your poodle is getting high-quality food, not something with lots of grain. A good rule of thumb is to give your toy poodle, miniature poodle and standard poodle the highest quality dog food you can afford. While lots of poodle owners prefer to cook their poodle meals every day, this is not necessary and can be expensive and time-consuming. Most good quality dog food brands are balanced and have been formulated to ensure there is the right amount of everything to support good poodle health.
To prevent staining caused by drinking water around the mouth, you could try using a bird water bottle to reduce the amount of water getting onto your poodle’s face when they drink. You could also try drying your poodle’s face with a paper towel every time they drink, but this is something you’d need to do regularly to have any impact on reducing the staining.
You should also use a metal or glass bowl for your dog’s food and drink, as plastic can get small cracks in which can breed bacteria and fungi that contribute to fur staining on the face.
Another thing that could be causing the stains if your toy poodles, miniature poodles or standard poodles is currently teething, the chewing, and pain that is associated with teething can cause tearing and eye-watering to occur. Teething is a normal part of puppy development and is not anything to worry about, the most important thing is to ensure your poodle puppy has lots of safe things to chew on, such as toys, to make sure they don’t begin chewing on furniture or sticks, which can cause splinters in the mouth.
How to clean your Poodle’s eyes
So, how to clean them. There are a few options when it comes to clearing up the stains naturally the first being a saline solution or chamomile tea solution. Alternatively, you can use some tear stain wipes, I have recommended my favorite wipes further down in this article if you want the convenience of a ready-made wipe.
The most important thing to keeping your poodle’s face stain free is regularly wiping around 2x per day and keeping groomers appointments. There is no quick fix, so you need to decide if you really want the stains removed or if maintaining it twice a day is too much effort for the reward.
Trimming the fur can also help, but i do not recommend novices put scissors anywhere near their poodle’s eyes- leave it to professional groomers for that as the slightest wobble could seriously hurt your poodle.
Things you will need to clean your poodle’s eyes without wipes
- Guarded clippers
- Physiological saline solution or a Chamomile tea (you can buy these here and here if you can’t find in your local store)
- Lukewarm water
- Clean cloth or cotton wool. While a cloth is a better option as creates less landfill, it will need to be washed after each use. If you can’t do this, cotton will can be used as it gentle and disposable.
You can check out my recommended gear here
How to Clean your Poodle’s eye stains with Chamomile tea
- Brew some chamomile tea and allow it to cool to lukewarm or room temperature. This can be used more than once, but should only be stored in the fridge for 8 hours after being brewed.
- Get your poodle somewhere comfortable, with good light so you can see clearly and where you can reach and access the eye area easily.
- Use a cotton wool pad or cloth and soak it in the chamomile tea mixture, squeeze the excess liquid out so it is damp. Then, gently use the pad to wipe the stained area, being careful not to press hard on the delicate eye area. Keep wiping for a couple of minutes gently doing in the direction of the hair growth. This should gradually and gently remove build-up and residue.
This method will not give immediate results, but if done twice a day will lessen the appearance of under-eye staining.
How to clean your poodle’s eyes with saline solution
- Get some saline solution, like that used as contact lens solution, and use it to saturate a cotton pad. You can buy this at a pharmacy or chemist for a small price.
- Use the pad the very gently wipe the eye area and staining daily. Similarly to chamomile tea, this in itself will not immediately remove stains but will help your poodle’s eyes from getting a large build up of iron and minerals in the area, over time decreasing the staining.
How to prevent poodle eye staining with ready made wipes
For some, making chamomile tea and waiting for it to cool and buying saline solution will be too much hassle. To help those in a hurry some pet brands have made some ready to sue wipes- these are handy as they are meant to just be used once and then disposed of and have been formulated not to irritate poodle eyes.
However, the downside of these for me is that many are not recyclable and end up in landfill as they are not biodegradable, which can be off-putting if you are conscious of your environmental impact and want to reduce waste.
This Eye Envy Tear Stain Solution is a good compromise
But, if you do want to use wipes these are my top pics as they are alcohol free and contain natural ingredients.
These wipes by GHEART are good as they are all-natural and contain chamomile and ale vera. They are conveniently packaged and do not cause irritation as they are hypoallergenic. They come in a pack of 100 so you will not need to replace these quickly. They also do a biodegradable version, which is a big plus in my book!
These wipes by Earthbath are also a good choice, as they also contain natural ingredients. However, there is no biodegradable version, which means more landfill, and the pack of 15 means that these wipes will need to be replaced quickly.
Mythbusting Common Poodle Eye Staining Solutions
A lot of blogs and pet articles recommend adding something acidic to your dog’s drinking water to reduce tear staining, such as apple cider vinegar. However, there is no evidence that adding acid to a dog’s diet has any impact on their tear composition, as the dog’s body will process the acid and neutralize it to match the dog’s existing P.H. balance before it would have any impact on their tears. Adding vinegar to drinking water can stop your poodle from wanting to drink it, leading to dehydration or them seeking water in other places- such as the toilet or potentially dirty and polluted puddles when on walks.
Hydrogen peroxide, while no doubt effective at removing stains, is not a good product to use on your poodle’s skin or eyes. This is a powerful ingredient and if used incorrectly can easily damage your poodle’s delicate skin and eye area. Do not use this ingredient.
Boric acid is also a popular recommendation, but is actually categorized as a poison and can cause irritation and damage to a poodle’s delicate eyes. Do not use this near your poodle’s eyes.
Tums or other antacids are also recommended by some people to reduce eye staining. These normally contain high levels of calcium, which when given in addition to the calcium already added to dog food, can lead to too much calcium building up in a poodle’s system.
Corn Starch or other white powders. While corn starch if applied will disguise the look of stains, you could be getting these tiny dusty particles in your poodle’s eye during the application process. These particles could lead to irritation and infection, so it is best to avoid applying this to your poodle’s eye.
While as talked about above there are lots of different safe things you can try to reduce the look of staining, these will not magically make your poodle’s under eye fur the exact same shade as the rest of their coat. While keeping the area and clean and trimmed are your best bet, in most cases a little under eye staining is nothing to worry about as long as there is no medical issue causing it.