By Tuesday, March 24, 2020 21 No tags Permalink

Recently I learned the discoloration in certain areas on Harley are actually saliva stains on my dog. I first saw small traces about two months or so ago. It became more prevalent a few weeks ago, so I discussed this with their Doodle Doc…

Harley’s always been white! I’m talking typewriter paper white! Now he’s got these rust colored spots around his eyes and mouth…

Their vet said this is called “saliva staining.”

Saliva staining can happen to any part of your dog’s body that he likes to lick or chew, such as the fur on your dog’s feet or the fur around the eyes. While it’s harmless for the most part, there are some medical conditions that could cause excessive staining in your dog’s fur.  

Dr. Patrick Mahaney, VMD (PetSafe)


Salvia (and tears) contain a substance called “porphyrins” which can stain white/light fur (hair) pink, red, or brown.

Porphyrin – 

is a naturally occurring substance in the tears and saliva and tends to show up as a pink/brown color where your pet has licked, dribbled or produced lots of tears. The discoloration from the Porphyrin is most obvious on light colored fur.


There are certain locations prone to stain due to porphyrins – 

  • beard
  • eyes (due to the secretion of tears)
  • feet
  • knees
  • body parts that cause your dog to lick constantly

Harley’s not a dribbler, but he does lick and during allergy season his eyes will even water.


There are many causes – 

  • dental disease
  • blocked tear ducts
  • inability to close ones mouth properly
  • too frequent grooming 

Yet none of these hold true for Harley.

Here’s your chuckle for the day; When I first noticed the discoloration around his mouth and then under his tail, I started thinking about his paternal (Cooper Red Poodle) genes. Could his lightish apricot coloring he had as a puppy be coming back now in his senior years? #truestories #pleasedontjudgeme

While this thought honestly crossed my mind for several days… 

…that was not the reason. #obviously


Seasonal allergies (the gift that keeps on giving) are the root of Harley’s porphyrin staining. When he experiences allergy flare-ups, he notoriously licks and gnaws on his rear-end, and now it looks like this…

When the environmental allergens are at an all time high, eye inflammation occurs which leads to excessive tear production as well. 

While I (like all of you) “do my part” sheltering in place these days, I’m determined to search for a more natural – holistic approach. My goal is to return his rear-end white again if possible, but I would prefer not to use medication. There is a possibility once this allergy season is over, and he’s gotten his summer cut, it may not be as prevalent. #believingindoodledreams

In the meantime, I would love to know if you’re either –

  • battling the same allergy issues
  • know of any suggestions that may help 

As we look for a remedy, his groomer does a Doodle*tastic job using whitening shampoo and conditioner…

But at the end of the day – if he remains “speckled” and healthy, we will keep on – keeping on!

From all of us here in Doodleville – please remain safe, healthy and wash those hands AND paws regularly!

  • Thomas Mason
    March 24, 2020

    What is a safer way to control my doodles bad breath???

    • Cathy Bennett
      March 24, 2020

      Believe it or not Thomas, I read (and tried it) that celery – yes celery – was a great way to freshen a dogs breath. It works well on Jaxson, Harley doesn’t like it – so he won’t eat it. If you think your Dood would chew it – and your vet is okay with it – give it a try. Here’s the link from the akc:
      Thanks for reading, come back soon.

  • Madison
    March 25, 2020

    That is a bummer buddy. Mom never wanted a white dog because so many do have staining around the mouth and eyes, but then she got Katie the Kuvasz. Thankfully, Katie never had those stains but as she got older she got hot spots once a year or so, usually on her back legs and those would turn a redish color from licking but then went away again. Hope you can get your white back buddy!

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 10, 2020

      Katie remained gorgeous her entire life. She was regal. The white is there, thanks to the groomer, I have noticed now that we are out of the spring allergy season it’s not as bad, so I’m happy!

  • Tails Around the Ranch
    March 25, 2020

    Another reason for saliva stains is just being an Old English Sheepdog. It’s a constant battle with these fur balls.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 10, 2020

      Oh I can only imagine. What’s your remedy? Or do you just let it be?

  • Jan K
    March 26, 2020

    Our beagle Cricket used to have tear stains, especially as she got older, but we never really found a cause or a solution.
    Harley is adorable anyway!! But good luck finding something that might help.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 10, 2020

      You know Jan, I was thinking the age had something to do with it too. White dogs can’t turn gray so perhaps this is an aging thing too. Who knows? The way I see it, if it’s not hurting him – I’m not going to worry about it! LOL Take care my friend 🙂

  • Kimberly Gauthier
    March 26, 2020

    Rodrigo has the same thing on his paws, ankles and elbow area – these are the areas he links. The joints are due to arthritis pain, which I manage through joint supplements and the feet are due to his environmental allergies. I started giving him a new supplement that seems to help, but mostly this is just his life and I’m learning to manage the discomfort because I know he doesn’t have it as bad as many dogs.

    Thanks for the post. I was just looking at his paws this morning and saw the tell tell discoloration.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 2, 2020

      I was looking at some photos last week and it was shocking to see photos of Harley without stains around his muzzle. I agree with you – it is what it is now and for Harley, there’s nothing I can do about it.We must stay strong in the struggle I guess.

  • dog chain collar
    April 9, 2020

    thank you for sharing this,

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 2, 2020

      You are welcome!

  • Bill
    April 19, 2020

    I’ve read a lot about this in the past. From what I’ve read sweet potatoes in your dogs food causes the stain. Not saying that is the only source, but it has been fairly documented. So check your food out to see if its high in sweet potatoes.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 2, 2020

      Hey Bill, the amount of sweet potatoes they have in their food isn’t the culprit I afraid. I’ve heard about that too.For Harley – it’s the constant licking, biting and drooling. I have been doing some research on water though, been wondering if I should switch to something with a higher alkaline level – I will let you know what I find out. Thanks for reading, please come back soon.

  • NormanWilkes
    May 31, 2020

    What a lovely dog!

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 1, 2020

      Thanks Norman…

  • Cathy Armato
    December 9, 2020

    Thanks so much for sharing this! My little one Phoebe is also white & suddenly has gotten those awful stains on her rear & also down her back legs. We recently moved so it could be allergies. She’s a licker for sure. She also gets tear stains. It started appearing right after a major grooming where she got shaved pretty good. If you find a natural substance that helps, please share it. I’ll do the same.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  • Sherry
    January 16, 2022

    Did you ever figure it out? We have the same issue. Thought it was the good. He’s on a limited diet food now but it’s still happening. Kona looks like my dirty dog.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 23, 2022

      Hello Sherry – The best (most logical) answer I was able to find was – “water” Many veterinarians explained that tap water in various regions have different levels of minerals – and they suggested I go with bottled water (like in the plastic jugs that are sold at the grocery store) and see if over time that would stop the staining. I must keep it real – I never did that. I was also told that over time the staining was inevitable and difficult to reverse. Both of my Doods get regular haircuts and initially the stains (especially around the chest area) are gone onHarley but over time they resurface. I have adjusted to it and really don’t pay much attention to it anymore. Hope that helps..

  • petdii
    April 28, 2022

    Thank you for your great work and useful information on your site. Lots of useful info for dog owners.

    • Cathy Bennett
      June 24, 2022

      Thank you so much!