How to Clean Boston Terrier Eyes and Tear Stains

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by Lily Ferreras


As a Boston Terrier parent, you are likely familiar with your dog’s eye care needs. But are you having trouble cleaning his eyes?

What’s worse… does your Boston Terrier have red, rusty tear stains? Here’s how you can go about cleaning their eyes:

Use dog wipes or a soft, damp cloth to wipe your Boston Terrier’s face and eyes daily. This will also prevent tear stains from forming. Boston Terriers are prone to eye problems, so keep your dog’s eyes clean and dry.

Continue reading to learn more about why cleaning your doggy’s eyes is important, the step-by-step eye cleaning guide (and what doesn’t work!), plus tips on how to avoid and address tear stains.

Boston Terrier Eye Care

Your Boston Terrier’s eyes need special care because of how prominent they are.

Before going through how to clean them, let’s have a look at their eye problems and excessive tears issue.

Boston Terrier’s Eye Problems

Due to their prominent eyes, Boston Terrier’s suffer from numerous eye conditions such as:

  • Cataracts: Especially affecting senior dogs. Their eyes become cloudy; it can affect a dog’s vision quite dramatically if left untreated. It’s a hereditary condition but it can also develop if a dog suffers from diabetes.
  • Corneal Ulcers: A painful eye condition.
  • Glaucoma: An hereditary eye condition that typically shows when dogs are around 2 years old. It can cause total blindness, rapidly.
  • Cherry Eye: This is a painful condition that affects a dog’s third eyelid.
  • Distichiasis: Another eye disorder where too many eyelashes grow around a dog’s eyelid.
  • Keratitis Sicca: Also known as Dry Eye. It happens when an ulcer damages the cornea of your dog’s eye.
  • Entropion: Another eye condition where the eyelashes grow inwards. 

Also, they can have the following eye problems:

  • Conjunctivitis.
  • Epiphora (watery eyes), which causes tear stains.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS (dry eyes).

Read also: Boston Terrier Eyes – 10 Problems and 6 Prevention Tips.


Boston Terrier’s Tear Stains

Tear stains or dog eye gunk is medically referred to as “eye discharge”.

Discharge can range from a clear, watery consistency to a pus-like discharge with a tendency to crust.

The discolouration is caused by excessive tearing or insufficient drainage, medically referred to as Epiphora. The constant eye waters cause red or brown stains in your dog’s coat around the eyes. The accumulation of a pigment called Porphyrin is what causes such discolouration.

Although all dogs get tear stains, the breeds that suffer the most from tear stains are those with shallow eye sockets, which prevents proper drainage down the throat.

Boston Terriers are prone to tear stains, similar to Pugs, Poodles and Bichon Frises, for example.

Also, Boston Terrier puppies produce more tears while teething. So during this time frame, you can absolutely expect some tear stains.

Although eye lubrication is a healthy body response, you should still take action, especially when the following happens:

  • Excessively watery eyes.
  • Excessively dry eyes.
  • A noticeable increase in eye discharge.
  • Change in eye discharge consistency or colour.
  • Rubbing or pawing at the eyes.
  • Excessive blinking.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • A visible foreign object in the eye.

If any of these occur, don’t hesitate to take your pooch to your vet for an appropriate diagnosis.

Causes of Tear Stains

There are many things that can cause excessive tearing:

  • Allergies.
  • Irritation (caused by dust, smoke, sprays, or air fresheners, for example).
  • Infection.
  • Eyelashes getting caught in the eye.
  • Hair getting caught in the eye.
  • Poor diet.
  • Stress.
  • Genetics.

How to Clean Boston Terrier Eyes and Keep Tear Stains at Bay

After reading about Boston Terrier’s eye problems and how prone they are to tear stains…

You can see why keeping your BT’s eyes clean is so important to prevent eye infections and other issues.

At least once a week, you should take the time to look at your dog’s eyes and clean any specks of dirt around them.

But first a disclaimer: Keep in mind that I’m not a vet. I share what works for me and what I’ve learned through years of experience. Always consult with your vet, especially if you are unsure about the nature of the eye discharge, and if you feel uncomfortable.

Adopting these new habits will help you keep your Boston Terrier’s eyes clean in the long run:

#1 – Clean Your Dog’s Face Daily

As a preventive measure, you could simply wipe away the tears as they develop with a gentle, slightly damp cloth.

Alternatively, you could wipe his face in the morning and at night. Keeping your dog’s face clean goes a long way!

Refer to the section Boston Terrier Eye Cleaning Essentials below to know what you can use to clean your BT’s eyes and remove the possible stains on his hair.

#2 – Use Water Low in Minerals and Iron

If your tap water is high in minerals or iron, give your dog filtered or bottled water instead (i.e. drinking water). High mineral and iron content in tap water may cause increased porphyrin, which leads to prominent staining.

#3 – Feed Your Dog a Species-Appropriate Balanced Diet

A healthy and balanced diet is essential for your dog’s overall health. I always recommend that you feed your pooch the highest quality balanced diet that you can afford.

High-quality ingredients in his food improve your dog’s health, reduces flatulence (common in Boston Terriers) and can also improve tear staining (since some foods produce more porphyrin).

Also, NON-Tylosin supplements can help reduce porphyria.

#4 – Avoid Plastic Feeding Bowls

I am a big believer in using Kongs (or other food dispensers) to feed any dog. This doesn’t mean hand-feeding is out of the question ;).

However, if you use food bowls, go for stainless steel or porcelain. Plastic bowls often get tiny cracks that harbour bacteria and cause facial irritation. This also applies to his water bowl.


Boston Terrier Eye Cleaning Essentials

Since there’s no one solution that works for every Boston Terrier, here are some things that work:

Dog Eye Cleaning Solution

There are many dog eye cleaning commercial solutions. However, I am used to damping a soft cloth on warn chamomille tea to clean both my dogs’ (and cats’) eyes.

Chamomille has a soothing smell, plus the cloth is warm… which somehow makes their eye cleaning routine less painful. However, this won’t work for getting rid of tear stains – only works to remove fresh gunk (not the dry one, which can get hard as a rock!)

Dog Wipes

As an alternative to a cleaning solution, some dog parents prefer grooming wipes (these ones are free of alcohol, parabens and harsh chemicals).

They are useful to wipe the excess tears from the fur beneath the eye and prevent staining.

Plus, you can use dog wipes to clean:

  • your dog’s paws.
  • their ears.
  • a stain on their hair.
  • etc.

Thanks to their multiple uses, dog wipes are a more economical solution.

Dog Tear Stain Remover

You can try these two mild acids (I know, acid sounds harsh) to remove tear stains:

  • Liquid vitamin C (citric acid).
  • A contact lens solution that has mild boric acid.

Both substances seem to oxidize the porphyrin iron compounds (what causes the stain colour) and lighten them.

Note: Sunlight makes the stains darker.

Dog Eye Comb

A dog eye comb (Amazon link) can be useful to:

  1. Groom your dog’s hair around his eyes after cleaning your Boston’s eyes.
  2. Further removing any dirt or gunk around them.

What Doesn’t Work

According to the vets from Leospetcare, these are some examples of what you should avoid using since they do no good:

  • Using only your fingers to remove it. It’s a sensitive area and the gunk gets attached to your dog’s hair. So, if you pull, you will hurt your pooch. Use a damp towel rather than your bare fingers.
  • Cotton balls or other products that may shed material into the eye.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide.
  • Makeup remover.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. It irritates your dog’s eye.
  • Homemade remedies like yoghurt, corn syrup and other concoctions.
This Boston Terrier’s eyes are tearing.

P.S. Grooming is an important factor for your Boston Terrier’s overall health! For more BT grooming tips, check out How to Groom a Boston Terrier – Basic Guide blog post.

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