Tear Stains In Bulldogs And French Bulldogs

By: Dr. Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Help for My Precious Bulldog’s Tear Stains! 🐾😢 #StellaCares

Dear Dr. Kraemer, I hope this note finds you well! 🌟 My adorable bulldog, Stella, has been struggling with facial brownish stains lately, and I could use your expert advice on how to care for them. 😢 Her teary eyes are breaking my heart, and I want to ensure she’s comfortable and happy.

Any tips or recommendations you have would mean the world to us! 🙏🏼 Warm regards, [Samanth J.] & Stella 🐶💖 #StellaCares

Tear stains are a common concern we receive from bulldog and French bulldog owners, especially when their bulldog has a light-colored coat.

Many owners wrongly attribute the unsightly, wet, reddish tear stains to the mysterious “RED YEAST,” often relying on information from sources like “Dr. Yahoo” and his associate “Dr. Google.”

However, this belief is a misconception!

tear stain in English bulldog

Bulldog Tear Stains 5 X MUST KNOW

  1. Tear stains common to the fur of the face and leg are not due to a mysterious “red yeast.
  2. In contrast to skinfold dermatitis, tear stains are not due to an infection
  3. Tear stains are due to a red blood cell by-product found in tears and saliva that turns dark when exposed to light
  4. Treatment includes supplements and an antiseptic  therapeutic bully wipe
  5. Prevention includes Dr. Kraemer’s Tear StainLess Bundle

Welcome to Our “Prevention Over RX” Bulldog Community 

Bulldog Tear Stain Removal Bundle - Ultimate

Tear Stains in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs PORPHYRIN:

The true origin of those mysterious tearstains is a red blood cell (RBC) by-product called “porphyrin.”.


The typical lifespan of your bulldog’s red blood cells is approximately 4 months. When these red blood cells expire, their remnants, including porphyrin, undergo processing through the liver, biliary system, GI tract, and urine. Ultimately, these byproducts are extracted through your bulldog’s saliva and tears.


Porphyrin is a light-sensitive iron molecule that undergoes oxidation, turning reddish when exposed to sunlight. Hence, in cases like:

The areas that your bulldog licks, such as the paws or legs, may frequently exhibit a reddish and dark appearance upon exposure to sunlight.



  1. SALIVA & TEARS: Porphyrin is excreted in your bully’s tears and saliva
  2. EXCESSIVE TEARING & LICKING: The activated porphyrin in your bully tears and saliva turns the fur area into a reddish color.


The two common reasons for excessive tears are:

  • Tear overproduction
  • Tear insufficient drainage

Excessive tears are the most common reason for tear stains

French bulldog tear stains

Tear Stains in Bulldogs: OVERPRODUCTION

The most common reasons for tear overproduction in bulldogs and French bulldogs are:


Bulldog eyelash problems like

  • distichiasis
  • trichiasis
  • ectopic cilia

all of which will irritate and injure the cornea.


Bulldog eyelid problems like entropion, which is an inner rotation of the eyelids,.


Bulldog corneal ulcers are painful, irritating injuries to your bulldog’s cornea.


Bulldog exophthalmos, which is a protrusion of the eyeball, is common in brachycephalic breeds.


Bulldog allergies, such as bulldog atopic itch dermatitis and bulldog food allergy.

Bulldog Tear Stains Drainage Problems:

The second cause of excessive tears in bulldogs is inadequate drainage, often due to occluded tear ducts resulting from the breed’s compressed facial bones.

Tear Stains in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs

Tear Stains in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs PRESENTATION:

Common clinical presentations for those conditions are:

  • SHUT EYELIDS: Difficulty opening eyes
  • SQUINTING: Squinting and shying away from direct light
  • RUBBING: Scratching and rubbing face and eyes
  • DISCHARGE: Discharge and gunk
  • REDNESS: Red, puffed, irritated eyes (Conjunctivitis, Scleritis)
  • CLOUDINESS: Cloudiness, scaring, and the opaqueness of the cornea

For additional information about those common bulldog conditions, please read Dr. Kraemer’s “Eyes & Eye Lids” pages.

Tear Stains in Bulldogs “RED YEAST”:

The “Red Yeast” is an urban myth.

The red-colored tear stains result from porphyrin, a by-product of red blood cells (RBC) excreted through your bulldog’s tears and saliva. The misconception may arise from a mix-up with the prevalent yeast organism affecting bulldog skin and ears, which is Malassezia(a Pityrosporum, NOT Porphyrin)


Yeasty bully (Malassezia) stains and discharge typically exhibit a dark brownish color and may have an associated odor.

“Red yeast” (Malassezia) is commonly found in damp, moist areas like inside your bulldog’s ear canal, skin, and skin folds, leading to conditions such as

  • Bully Yeasty Otitis
  • Bully Yeasty Moist Skin-Fold Dermatitis
  •  Bully Yeasty Dermatitis.

Diagnosis of Bully Malassezia can be established through culture or cytology obtained from your bulldog’s skin, skin fold, and ear canal using a swab or skin impression.


Dr. Kraemer’s provides a wide range of topical v4b bully anti-yeast products:

Tear Stains in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs WARNINGS:

Below is Dr. Kraemer’s selection of bully tear stain warnings:

Bulldog tear stains: EXAM WARNING

For all of the above conditions, please see your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Antibiotics, such as Tylosin, have been occasionally demonstrated to assist in reducing porphyrin in tears. In these instances, bacteria might be involved, and the source of the bacteria could potentially be contact with unclean plastic water bowls and face scratching due to allergies.

Bulldog Tear Stains OTC WARNING:

Many over-the-counter tear stain removal products, such as

  • “Angel Dust
  • “Tear Stain STy”
  • “Pet Spark

often contain antibiotics like Tylosin. This practice is considered borderline illegal, unethical, and potentially harmful to your bulldog. It poses risks of adverse reactions to the drug and contributes to the endangerment and propagation of resistance to essential antibiotics, all for cosmetic purposes and vanity.


I strongly advise against using prescription antibiotics for cosmetic issues, always adhering to our “Do No Harm” rule. Antibiotics, whether for bulldog medical conditions or tear stains, should be prescribed by a veterinarian and administered under their supervision

Bulldog and French Bulldog Tear Stain TREATMENT & CARE:

Listed below is a summary of six sound steps to prevent and remove tear stains.


Proper Grooming of the area under the eyes keeps the hair short and the skin dry

Tear Stains in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs face eyes legs


Bulldog tear stains can be reduced by wiping the wet surface often with an appropriate wipe, like

Skinfolds and Tear Stains wiping is an important theraputic preventive


In contrast to other OTC products that contain unauthorized, potentially harmful antibiotics, Dr. Kraemer’s V4B Bully Tear StainLess Chews are tylosin-free (ANTIBIOTICS FREE).

The Bully Tear StainLess contains natural ingredients and is an easy-to-administer chew.

Bulldog Tear Stain WATER & FOOD BOWLS:

Stainless steel feeding and water bowls are less likely to crack and easier to clean, thus less likely to harbor and colonize porphyrin-stimulating bacteria.


Maintain and dry your bulldog and French bulldog skin folds to help eliminate bacteria and Malassezia yeast microorganisms (skin fold moist dermatitis).

Dr. Kraemer’s V4B Bully Antiseptic Skin Fold XL wipes are ideal for the daily maintenance of those folds.

Bulldog Tear Stains STRESS & NUTRITION:

Reducing stress, boosting the immune system, and feeding a balanced nutrition diet could help prevent and/or eliminate tear stains.

Treating bulldog tear stains can be complemented with various supplements, such:

Recommended by Owners Approved by Bulldogs


By Dr. Kraemer

Dr. R. J. Kraemer: With a specialization in Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and other Brachycephalic breeds, Dr. Kraemer has dedicated his career to educating the bulldog community about the unique medical and surgical requirements of the breed. These encompass preventive care and wellness, customized anesthesia, and employing a multimodal approach to address their unique medical conditions.

Some of the breed-specific medical issues he focuses on include

• Airway obstructive disease
• Orthopedics tailored for the breed
• Ear canal disease preventive care
• Skin and allergy management
• Skinfold Dermatitis and Interdigital cysts
• Eyes and eyelid abnormalities
• Pain and stress control
• Dietary, digestion, and therapeutic supplementation

He is a leading provider of cutting-edge regenerative and alternative medicine, for services such as stem cell therapy, laser, and PRP.

Additionally, he maintains a longstanding relationship with Bulldog Rescue, contributing funds and providing shelter, medical, and surgical expertise.

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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