How to Clean Havanese Eyes and Tear Stains

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How to Clean Havanese Eyes and Tear StainsA lot of dogs are prone to developing rust-colored stains on the fur around their eyes. These marks are referred to as tear stains and are common in a range of dog breeds.

If you’re worried about your Havanese getting tear stains, it’s important to make sure you know what to do to stop them and clean them!

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Are Havanese Prone to Having Tear Stains?

Since the Havanese often has light fur, it is particularly prone to having tear stains. Many dog breeds develop these marks, and they can mean a range of things. Havanese are likely to get these stains at some point in their life, so owners should be sure they know what to do when that happens.

Why Do Tear Stains Form Under Havanese’s Eyes?

The rust-colored or reddish stains in the corner of your dog’s eyes, which may or may not continue down its face, are caused by a chemical called porphyrin. The chemical is excreted through the intestines, saliva, and urine within dogs, and it has a tendency to stain or dye the fur pink, red, or brown. In dog breeds with darker fur, this is less noticeable, but in breeds like the Havanese, it’s quite obvious.

The chemical often makes its way onto the fur when a dog suffers from excessive tears. These tears can be caused by a number of things. The most common cause is simply biology. When dogs were domesticated, they were bred for protruding eyes in order to create “cuter” breeds. This, in many breeds, has led to crooked tear ducts.

Alternatively, in some cases, excessive tears are caused by allergies or irritants like cigarette smoke, hay fever, or certain items within a home. This can also lead to excessive licking and grooming which can further the risk of tear stains.

There are some medical conditions that may also result in tear stains in Havanese. These include anatomical issues like ingrown eyelashes, entropion (where the eyelashes and skin come into direct contact with the cornea), poor quality diet, ear infection, stress, and even some medication.

What Are the Risks of Not Cleaning Your Havanese’s Eyes?

If you’ve noticed that your dog is beginning to develop tear stains, it is important to wash their eyes for them. It is also worth a trip to the vet to ensure that there is nothing sinister at play.

Once you have received the all-clear, you should aim to wash your Havanese’s eyes on a regular basis to keep them free from irritants. This will help to reduce tear stains but will also dramatically improve your dog’s happiness, as they will no longer be enduring irritation on or around their eyes. Not cleaning your dog’s eyes could cause them to lick or groom themselves excessively which can damage their coat and could lead your Havanese to develop a licking habit.

How Often Should You Clean Your Havanese’s Eyes?

It is typically good practice to clean your Havanese’s eyes each time that you bathe them. This should be every three weeks or so, give or take. With that being said, however, if you notice that your pup is beginning to develop tear stains or signs of irritation, you may want to either change your method of cleaning their eyes or start cleaning them more regularly.

How to Clean Your Havanese’s Eyes and Tear Stains

There are a lot of methods out there that are suggested as ways to remove tear stains from a Havanese’s face. If you’ve found yourself battling with these red/rust-colored marks, then the safest thing to do is wash them out with a daily facial grooming routine.

Step 1: Get your Havanese a licky mat or something to keep them occupied whilst you work, as you are likely to find that they will not enjoy this process.

Step 2: Using a canine-friendly eye wash (saline solution or Terra Septic eye drops work best and will not cause any harm to your Havanese), flush your pet’s eyes gently. Carefully hold the dog’s eye open and drip a few drops of the solution into the eye.

Step 3: Clean around the area using a dog-friendly eye wash wipe. You can buy these from companies like Opti-clear and Bio True, or make your own by mixing a tablespoon of boric acid powder boiled in one cup of distilled water. Gently wipe around the eye and be sure to avoid touching the eye itself.

Step 4: Wash the Havanese’s muzzle with a canine dry shampoo (sometimes also called a waterless shampoo) and a wet washcloth. If you can’t find either product, you can use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution on a paper towel. Gently wipe the hair to remove any debris and dirt, preventing it from reaching the eye.

Step 5: Using a small metal comb, brush through the muzzle hair carefully to remove any knots and tangles from the hair, as these can harbor dust and irritants.

Step 6: Carefully towel dry or blow dry the muzzle hair to prevent further irritation.

If you do this on a daily or every other day basis, you should find that the irritation your Havanese is suffering from reduces dramatically. This should help to reduce issues with tear staining.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Since there are a myriad of factors that can contribute to tear stains on your Havanese, there are a number of things that you can do to combat them. Try to do as many of these as possible to best avoid tear stains.

Feed Your Havanese High-Quality Food

For a Bichon-type breed like the Havanese, it is the general consensus that a high-quality, grain-free diet will provide them with everything they need. In lower-quality food, there is an excess of corn, wheat, and meal that act as filler. These can cause allergic reactions which can result in excess tear production.

Changing up your Havanese’s food could be a game-changer when it comes to tear stains. It could also help to keep them healthier and full of energy!

Keep the Areas Around Their Eyes and Mouth Dry

Since moisture can lead to irritation, it is useful to try and limit the amount of moisture around your dog’s eyes and mouth when battling tear stains. You can do this by using glass water bottles, drying your pet’s face regularly, or even dusting cornstarch beneath your pet’s eyes and around the muzzle.

This will help to reduce the amount of grooming your Havanese feels the need to do, and will also remove tears and saliva on a regular basis.

Look Into Food Additives

Tear stains are by no means a new issue, and as such there are products out there that have been designed to help. Things like I-Stain, a product centered around a probiotic enzyme can be added to your Havanese’s food to reduce the risk of tear stains.

Alternatively, a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar or buttermilk has been known to work well in targeting the chemical compound that causes tear staining.

Check What They’re Drinking

Did you know that some water has tons more minerals in it than others? Well, these excess minerals can set off allergies in dogs. If your Havanese is suffering from tear stains, try distilling their water before giving it to them. You might find that this helps!

Keep the Hair Around the Face Well Trimmed

Since hair can be a major irritant, especially around the eyes, it is important that Havanese owners keep an eye on how unruly their facial hair is getting. If you start to notice that the hair is near the eyes or is growing over them, it is important that you trim it. Keeping this hair short will help to reduce the number of irritants that your Havanese has to handle, reducing the tears that they will produce and how much they’ll rub their face.


Tear stains are pretty normal in light-coated dogs. They are the result of tears and saliva sitting on the fur and being dragged down by grooming. They are, fortunately, removable, and they can also be prevented with adequate grooming and some small lifestyle changes.

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