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10 Best Dog Foods for Tear Stains in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Cassandra Kyser

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Dogster Team

10 Best Dog Foods for Tear Stains in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Closeup of Poodle dog with white fur and red tear stainsYour dog could have tear stains for many reasons, including food intolerances. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), some dogs see a reduction in tear stains after they switch to a high-quality, limited ingredient dog food1.

Before you change your dog’s food, schedule a vet appointment. You’ll want to rule out physical conditions like clogged tear ducts or other eye abnormalities. If changing dog food brands is an option you pursue, we hope these reviews give you a good starting point.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Ollie Fresh Dog Food Chicken Dish with Carrots Ollie Fresh Dog Food Chicken Dish with Carrots
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • High Quality Ingredients
  • Personalized Recipes
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Gentle Giants Chicken Small Bite Dog & Puppy Dry Food Gentle Giants Chicken Small Bite Dog & Puppy Dry Food
  • Fish meal included
  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Inexpensive
  • Third place
    Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Salmon & Rice Formula Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Salmon & Rice Formula
  • Salmon as the first ingredient
  • Added nutrients for coat and skin health
  • Fortified with probiotics
  • Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula
  • Lamb as the first ingredient
  • Made in the USA
  • Probiotics, antioxidants, and prebiotics added
  • Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains
  • No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
  • Calorie dense
  • The 10 Best Dog Foods for Tear Stains

    1. Ollie Fresh Dog Food Chicken Dish with Carrots – Best Overall

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Carrots, Peas, Rice, Chicken Liver
    Protein content: 10.o% minimum
    Fat content: 5.o% minimum
    Calories: 1,298 kcal ME/kg

    We think Ollie chicken with carrots is the best overall choice for dogs with tear stains. Dogs love the taste of chicken and vegetables, while superfoods like spinach and chia seeds offer a nutritional boost, and all of Ollie’s dog foods are free of artificial ingredients. Ollie is available online via a subscription service, so while you won’t be able to go and pick it up from the store, their delivery service is easy and efficient. You fill out a short quiz about your pup, and then receive a starter box in the mail. Subscribers have the flexibility to delay or change upcoming orders. Ollie recommends that you slowly transition your dog to their food over 11 days. If your dog doesn’t like the food in their starter box, contact the company for your money back. As you probably guessed, this isn’t the cheapest dog food you can buy, however, several reviewers state that Ollie’s fresh food costs the same as a prescription diet but has higher-quality ingredients.

    Pros
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    • High Quality Ingredients
    • Personalized Recipes
    Cons
    • Expensive

    2. Gentle Giants Chicken Small Bite Dog & Puppy Dry Food – Budget Buy

    Gentle Giants Natural NON GMO Chicken Small Bite Dog & Puppy Dry

    Main Ingredients: Chicken fat, natural poultry flavor, whole flaxseeds, menhaden fish meal, dried yeast, dried kelp meal
    Protein Content: 9%
    Fat Content: 4%
    Calories: 358 kcal/cup

    While the packaging does look a bit strange, the Gentle Giants Chicken Small Bite Dog & Puppy Dry Food is easily the best dog food for tear stains for the money. It’s 100% complete and balanced, which is exactly what you need when you’re trying to eliminate tear stains. It’s made from real chicken, including added fat for extra fat.

    It also includes things like menhaden fish meal, which has tons of omega fatty acids. This helps improve your dog’s coat and skin, as well. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, and other ingredients add in extra fiber and other nutrients that your canine needs.

    This formula contains absolutely no GMOs, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients. Instead, everything is completely natural and made to support your dog’s overall health.

    Pros
    • Fish meal included
    • Real meat is the first ingredient
    • Inexpensive
    • Lots of added nutrients
    Cons
    • Not many flavors available

    3. Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

    Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

    Main Ingredients: Salmon, rice, whole grain wheat, poultry by-product meal, soybean meal, beef fat, corn gluten meal
    Protein Content: 26%
    Fat Content: 16%
    Calories: 379 kcal/cup

    We also highly recommend the Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food. Purina is a well-trusted dog food brand that is known for having few recalls. When you consider how much food they make, that is truly astonishing!

    This formula includes hard kibble combined with tender, shredded pieces for taste and texture. Your dog should absolutely adore this food if they’re looking for some variety. It also has salmon as the first ingredient, which helps with your dog’s skin and coat health. Vitamin A and omega fatty acids are also added for this purpose.

    We love that this formula is fortified with probiotics for digestive health. Your dog’s gut is a huge part of their immune system, as well, so probiotics can prevent them from getting sick, too.

    Pros
    • Salmon as the first ingredient
    • Added nutrients for coat and skin health
    • Fortified with probiotics
    Cons
    • Somewhat expensive

    4. Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula

    Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula

    Main Ingredients: Lamb meal, ground white rice, cracked pearled barley, grain sorghum, egg product, dried yeast
    Protein Content: 23%
    Fat Content: 14%
    Calories: 403 kcal/cup

    We highly recommend Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula because it has stellar ingredients and is completely family-owned. It uses quality ingredients, though these are sourced from around the world. Lamb meal is the very first ingredient, which is basically a concentrated form of lamb. This provides plenty of protein and fat for your canine, while also being less likely to cause allergies.

    This formula also includes probiotics to support your canine’s digestive health. Antioxidants and prebiotics are added for this same purpose, as well. Dogs with gastrointestinal problems may particularly benefit from this formula.

    Diamond Naturals also doesn’t make their food with any wheat, artificial flavors, or colors.

    Pros
    • Lamb as the first ingredient
    • Made in the USA
    • Probiotics, antioxidants, and prebiotics added
    Cons
    • Expensive

    5. Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Small Breed Dry Dog Food

    Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Small Breed Food

    Main ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Oats, Barley, Brown Rice
    Protein content: 27.0% minimum
    Fat content: 16.0% minimum
    Calories: 432 kcal/cup

    Dogs of all sizes can develop tear stains. However, smaller breeds like poodles, Shih Tzus, and Malteses are more susceptible. This Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Small Breed Dry Dog Food meets the dietary needs of little dogs. Despite the “turkey” and “whitefish” name, this recipe also contains chicken and dried egg products. The added probiotics make it easy on the most sensitive of stomachs. While many owners love this food, a few report that the kibble is too big for the tiniest canine mouths. The omega-3 and omega-6 can help improve your dog’s fur and skin, and Nulo differentiates itself from other small breed dog foods by offering “Low carbs and low-glycemic ingredients.” The smallest bag the company sells is a 5-pound bag, which is an investment for a small dog that may not like the food.

    Pros
    • No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
    • Calorie dense
    Cons
    • Multiple protein sources
    • Unclear what “natural flavor” is
    • Large kibble

    6. Solid Gold Whole Grain Adult Dry Dog Food

    Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken Lamb, Brown Rice & Pearled Barley Recipe Whole Grain Adult Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Pearled Barley, Oatmeal
    Protein content: 22.0% minimum
    Fat content: 10.0% minimum
    Calories: 335 kcal/cup

    Solid Gold bills itself as “America’s first holistic pet food.” All of their dog food formulas are free of artificial ingredients. While lamb is the primary protein source, this food does also contain ocean fish meal and chicken fat. Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken Lamb, Brown Rice & Pearled Barley meets the needs of dogs that need a novel protein source but will still benefit from whole grains. Pumpkin and ground flaxseed are tasty additions that boost the fiber content.

    Pros
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    • Easy-to-digest lamb
    Cons
    • Unclear what “natural flavor” is

    7. Wellness Complete Health Adult Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Wellness Complete Health Adult Whitefish & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Whitefish, Ground Barley, Peas, Menhaden Fish Meal, Oatmeal
    Protein content: 22.0% minimum
    Fat content: 12.0% minimum
    Calories: 435 kcal/cup

    You may feel like you’re out of options if your dog is sensitive or allergic to beef and poultry. Dog foods with novel protein sources like lamb, bison, and venison are harder to come by and more expensive. Wellness Complete Health Adult Whitefish & Sweet Potato is a good choice if your dog tolerates fish and benefits from grains like barley and oats, and the added omegas are good for your dog’s fur and skin. This isn’t the cheapest dog food for tear stains, but it’s also not the most expensive. The caloric density is higher than some other dog foods. That means your dog may need to eat less than other brands, and it could be easy to overfeed them. Check with your vet if you have questions about how many calories your dog should eat daily. One disadvantage to this brand is that Wellness does not offer a trial or sample sizes. Some owners report that smaller dogs have difficulty chewing the larger kibble size.

    Pros
    • No beef or poultry
    • No artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors
    Cons
    • No trial or sample sizes
    • Larger kibble pieces

    8. CANIDAE Grain-Free Senior Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

    CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Senior Limited Ingredient Chicken, Sweet Potato & Garbanzo Bean Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Garbanzo Beans
    Protein content: 28.0% minimum
    Fat content: 10.0% minimum
    Calories: 409 kcal/cup

    Dogs can develop tear stains and food sensitivities at any point in their lives. If your senior’s current dog food causes tear stains, check out this formula from Canidae. Many dogs go crazy for the blend of chicken, turkey, and sweet potatoes. Not all dogs will benefit from a grain-free diet, so talk with your vet if you have any questions. Garbanzo beans add fiber and carbohydrates, but there’s a possible link between legumes and heart problems in certain breeds.

    Talk with your veterinarian before feeding your senior pup a grain-free diet that contains legumes like garbanzo beans. The company sources its ingredients from the U.S., except for duck (France) and lamb (New Zealand). The one ingredient we take issue with is “natural flavor.” While Canidae doesn’t use artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, we think dog owners need more transparency about this ingredient. This isn’t the cheapest dog food on the market, but it has a strong, loyal consumer base. Most negative reviews are over concerns that their dog didn’t like the taste.

    Pros
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Contains unspecified “natural flavor”

    9. American Journey Active Life Formula Dry Dog Food

    American Journey Protein & Grains Healthy Weight Salmon, Brown Rice & Vegetables Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Brown Rice, Peas, Barley
    Protein content: 25.0% minimum
    Fat content: 9.0% minimum
    Calories: 305 kcal/cup

    This formula from American Journey makes it possible for your dog to maintain a healthy weight and clear up tear stains. The primary protein sources in this food are salmon and fish meal, but it also contains chicken meal and chicken fat. Brown rice and barley provide a gentle source of grains, a food group that most dogs need in their diet. American Journey is one of the lesser-known dog food brands produced solely for Chewy.

    It’s difficult to find information about American Journey, but the company states that they make their dog food in the U.S. with domestic and imported ingredients. While PetSmart owns Chewy, our research shows that at this time, you can only buy American Journey online. Legumes like peas provide fiber and protein, but research has found a potential link to heart problems in certain breeds. Check with your veterinarian before switching to any dog food with legumes as a primary ingredient.

    Pros
    • No artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors
    Cons
    • Only available on Chewy

    10. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Hearty Recipes Wet Dog Food

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Hearty Recipes Variety Pack Wet Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken Paw Pie: chicken broth, chicken, dried egg product, egg white, pea protein. Beef Stroganwoof: chicken broth, beef, chicken, dried egg product, pea protein. Chicken Muttballs: chicken broth, chicken, dried egg product, ground tapioca, pea protein.
    Protein content: 9.0% minimum
    Fat content: 2.0% minimum
    Calories: Chicken Paw Pie 239 kcal/8-oz tray, Chicken Muttballs 298 kcal/8-oz tray, Beef Stroganwoof 259 kcal/8-oz tray

    While these Nutrish wet foods meet the AAFCO’s nutrition guidelines for adult dogs, they contain much less protein and fat than other brands on our list. Some dogs are sensitive to corn, wheat, or soy but will still benefit from grains. These three Nutrish formulas rely on rice and tapioca for gentler and easier digestion. All three of these varieties contain legumes in the form of pea protein, an ingredient that researchers say has a possible link to canine heart problems.

    You should consult your veterinarian or a certified veterinary nutritionist before feeding your dog a diet heavy in legumes. This probably won’t be the wet food variety pack you reach for if your pup has protein sensitivities, as these contain a little of everything: chicken, dried egg, and beef. We like this food because it’s affordable and easy to find in stores. Dogs love the rich gravy and delicious recipes, while owners love the convenient packaging. The Nutrish varieties aren’t paté or blended and look like their human counterparts of pot pie and stroganoff.

    Pros
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    • Easy to find in stores
    Cons
    • Not suitable for protein allergies
    • Lower protein

    divider-pawBuyers Guide: Choosing the Best Dog Food for Tear Stains

    While several issues can cause tear stains, a poor quality diet is one factor. Consult with your veterinarian before you switch your dog to a new food. You’ll want to rule out any physical abnormalities like an eye or tear duct condition.

    Contrary to current trends, most pups can tolerate grains. The most common canine food allergies are proteins. Grains provide an essential source of carbohydrates, a nutrient your dog needs to stay healthy. Identifying possible allergens and intolerances is difficult. Limited ingredient-dog foods like the ones on our list make it easier to identify potential allergens.

    When evaluating different dog food brands, we considered money-back guarantees, trials, ingredient transparency, and value for the money. Every food on our list identifies the protein source. We did not include any foods with vague ingredients like “poultry by-products” and “bone meal.” A few of our picks contain “natural flavor” further down the ingredient list.

    While we don’t like the lack of transparency surrounding this ingredient, it’s often far enough down the ingredient list that it may not be a cause for concern. We prioritized brands that offer smaller packaging or a starter box, as you never know whether your dog will take to a new food or not.

    Dog Food and Tear Stains: FAQs

    Why does my dog have tear stains all of a sudden?

    Environmental triggers are often to blame for your dog developing tear stains. In addition to a new diet, other culprits include sensitivity to a plastic food or water bowl and iron content in your tap water. Allergies aren’t just for puppies. Dogs of all ages can develop food and environmental sensitivities.

    Are tear stains painful for dogs?

    The actual tear stains look worse than they feel. The brown streaks look unsightly to owners, especially on a white or light-colored dog. Most tear stains are not painful, but your dog will rub their paw or leg against their eyes if they experience discomfort.

    What foods cause tear stains in dogs?

    Canine food allergies or intolerances can be challenging to pinpoint. You always want to start by consulting with your vet or a certified veterinary nutritionist. Dogs are often intolerant of common protein sources like chicken or beef. Quinoa, barley, and rice are often well-tolerated by pups who have problems with corn, soy, and wheat.

    dog tear stains
    Image by: Jill Gulles, Shutterstock

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    Top 3 Tips for Buying Dog Food for Tear Stains

    Shopping for dog food to eliminate tear stains is challenging. These three tips can help you determine which brands might suit your pup.

    1. Read the entire ingredient list.

    A pet food company may advertise their product as “chicken” but still include beef fat. You’ll want to avoid foods that don’t specify the exact protein source, such as “bone meal” or “poultry by-products.” Some companies still use artificial dyes, flavors, or preservatives. These ingredients can cause inflammation or other reactions, so look for dog food with all-natural ingredients.

    man buying pet food
    Image by: LADO, Shutterstock

    2. Be ready for trial and error.

    Even after a vet exam, you may not have a clear idea of possible food triggers. Finding a recipe that will clear up your dog’s tear stains can take trial and error. Transitioning to a new food should be done over several days or even one week. Start by mixing 25% of the new food with your dog’s current food. Then slowly increase the amount of new food.

    3. Look for companies that offer money-back guarantees.

    A handful of pet food companies offer a trial or a money-back guarantee if the food doesn’t work for your pup. These brands can be a good starting point if you don’t want to purchase a large bag of food or need to stay within a tighter budget.

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    Final Thoughts

    If you want to get rid of your dog’s tear stains, you need to feed them a high-quality diet—and it doesn’t get much more high-quality than Ollie’s. If you want your canine to look and feel healthier, then this fresh dog food is the way to go.

    That said, it is expensive. If you’re looking for something a bit more budget-friendly, we recommend Gentle Giants Chicken Small Bite Dog & Puppy Dry Food. This food contains quality ingredients, including chicken as the primary ingredient. However, it is much cheaper than most.


    Featured Image Credit: Susan Schmitz, Shutterstock

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