Skip to Content

Why do dogs get black around their eyes?

Dogs don’t care about their appearance. They can enjoy playtime and walks outside no matter how they look.

As pet owners, we tend to get more hung up on their looks.

A big part of that is because we want our pets to look as good as possible. However, our concern for our dear pets also plays a role in that. If you notice something odd about your pet’s appearance, you may start to think that something’s wrong.

For instance, some dogs develop discolored streaks and patches around their eyes. Should you be worried about that discoloration? Continue with this article to find the answer to that important question and also pick up some other valuable bits of pet info.

Why Do Dogs Get Black around Their Eyes?

Your pet dog’s body will change over time. Among the changes you may observe are examples of discoloration.

To be more specific, the areas around your dog’s eyes may darken over time. So, what’s going on there?

In all likelihood, the discolored streaks and patches you’re seeing are tear stains.

The stains themselves come about because a pigment known as porphyrin is left behind once the tears dry. Early on, the stains will feature a reddish hue. As they accumulate, they may start to darken.

If your dog tends to tear up excessively, they are more likely to develop those dark patches around their eyes. Excessive tearing in dogs is also known as epiphora.

Epiphora is not a condition itself. Rather, it’s a symptom that emerges when your dog is affected by other eye-related issues.


Dogs and humans are similar in the sense that they both can be allergic to certain things. Their reactions to those allergies can also mirror one another. Just as we tear up after being exposed to an allergen, the same thing can happen to our pet dogs.  

Too much exposure to allergens can lead to excessive tearing. Your dog’s bout with their allergies may leave lasting effects in the form of discoloration.


Allergens are not the only things you have to worry about. Foreign entities that get into your dog’s eyes can cause issues of their own. Epiphora and tear stains may be the least of your problems if one of your dog’s eyes is infected.


Wounds around your dog’s eyes or even on them can also lead to excessive tear production. Examine your dog’s eyes closely if they were recently involved in a fight because wounds around those areas can be very problematic.

Blockages in the Tear Ducts

A blockage may have formed in your dog’s tear ducts. Because of that blockage, the tears may not drain like they’re supposed to. Since the tears are lasting longer on your dog’s face, they may also leave more noticeable stains behind.

What to Do about My Dog Getting Black around the Eyes?

Now that you understand why some parts of your dog’s face have become discolored, you are now better equipped to deal with that issue. Check out the tips below if you want more guidance regarding that matter.

Wipe the Tears Away

The first thing you need to do is wipe the excess tears away from your dog’s face. For now, you should avoid using any special cleaners. Instead, you’ll want to use a paper towel that has been moistened with some clean water.

Use the moist paper towel to clean the areas around your dog’s eyes. Be gentle and careful while doing so. You don’t want to inadvertently hit your dog’s eyes and cause an injury.

Take Your Dog to the Veterinarian

Wiping the tears away is a temporary measure. You must address the underlying issue if you want to prevent further discoloration. To do that, you need to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian.

Once the veterinarian examines your pet, they will be able to identify the main issue causing the discoloration. It’s easier to determine what actions you need to take once that consultation has been completed.

Follow the Veterinarian’s Instructions

The veterinarian may prescribe different forms of treatment after the consultation. They may suggest changing your dog’s food, using eye drops, or give your dog an Elizabethan collar until their wound heals.

In some cases, surgery may also be required to fix the underlying issue.

Listen to the veterinarian and follow their plan for treating your pet. The new treatment regimen will resolve the health issue affecting your dog while also putting a stop to the discoloration in the process.

Can I Get Rid of Tear Stains on My Dog?

The tear stains on your dog’s face do not have to be permanent. It’s possible to remove them by following a relatively straightforward hygiene routine.

The hygiene routine I follow to keep the areas around my dog’s eyes clear is posted below. Give it a read and see if it can help with your pet’s tear stains.

Trim the Hair around Your Dog’s Eyes

Long hairs can occasionally poke your dog’s eyes. If that happens, your dog will likely tear up.

Aside from hitting your dog in the eye, those hairs may also cause tears to pool. They may prevent the tears from streaming down your dog’s face.

You need to trim those long hairs to prevent tear stains. Hire a groomer to trim the hair around your dog’s eyes to ensure that the job is done safely and precisely.

Clean the Areas around Your Dog’s Eyes Multiple Times per Day

Preventing tear stains is possible if you make it a habit to clean around your dog’s eyes. You can use a moist paper towel for cleaning or something soft like a microfiber towel.

Clean your dog’s eyes regularly using your preferred material. Try to clean your dog’s eyes throughout the day to stop any tears from pooling.

You can also ask the veterinarian if they recommend any products that can remove the discoloration. Don’t use any cleaning product unless the veterinarian gives you the green light first. Colloidal silver is generally considered to be a safe cleaning agent, but you should still clear it with the veterinarian first.

Consult with the Veterinarian Regularly

Speaking of the veterinarian, you should check in with them regularly if your goal is to stop the discoloration around your dog’s eyes. Doing that is even more important if an underlying issue was identified previously.

The veterinarian can tell you how your dog’s condition is progressing. They can also tell you if additional treatment methods can help remove the discoloration.

Is It Normal for a Dog to Get Black around the Eyes?

Darkening around your dog’s eyes is not normal per se. However, it’s not a rare occurrence either.

Notably, some dog breeds are more likely to experience that discoloration compared to others.

Small dogs are more susceptible to developing discolored skin patches. That’s because they are also more susceptible to excessive tearing.

Dogs with compressed muzzles are also likely to be affected by discoloration. Stains tend to appear more often for those dogs because moisture is often trapped within the folds of their skin. You have to be diligent with cleaning your dog’s face if you want to stop their face from getting discolored.

Examples of dog breeds that are likely to develop discolored skin around their eyes include bulldogs, cocker spaniels, and pugs among many others.