Can Dogs Cry?

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You know your dog, and you know their expressive. In fact, they might be downright dramatic, especially with their sass and emotions. But does that mean your dog can have a full-range of human-like feelings? Can your dog get mad? Can he really get an attitude? Is it possible he can be sad? Can he cry?

We can help you out with that last one right away - yes, your dog can cry, but not for the same reasons that humans might. While humans cry to show their sadness, it's a bit different with dogs. They can certainly be sad and express that with whimpers, growls, protests, and of course, puppy-dog eyes. But doggy tear ducts don't work the same way peoples' do, so doggos won't "cry" when they're sad. 

Their eyes are prone to watering though, as is evident if you've ever seen your pup's tear stains below his eyes. Dogs will cry - or their eyes will water - for tons of reasons! Maybe they're allergic to something, maybe they have some kind of infection, or maybe they have a blocked tear duct! There are dozens of reasons that your dog's eyes might be watering, and it's important to look for the signs that are associated with it to determine the cause of the tears!

For more information on why dogs cry, how their tear ducts work, and associated symptoms, read more of our guide below! 

Signs Your Dog is Crying (and What it Might Mean)

It's pretty apparent when your dog's eyes are watering. You might be goin' in for a puppy-smooch on his puppy-face, when you notice those puppy-eyes are a bit more watery than usual. That part's pretty self-explanatory, but what else should you be looking for in association with your dog crying more than usual?

It's important to note that when your dog cries, it's just their eyes watering. Instead of jumping to sadness conclusions, think about how your dog might be experiencing something a bit more serious! 
A dog's tear ducts release basal tears that are necessary to keep their eyes moist, but if you notice that your dog is having a hard time seeing, seems to be blinking a bunch, or is leaving tears all over their bedding, your items, and even you, then your dog's tear ducts might be working overtime. 

Another sign that your dog might be experiencing overly-active tear ducts is the appearance of tear stains. Check out the patches of fur directly beneath their eyeballs. Are they crusty? Do you have a light-colored dog, and if so, have you noticed the patches of fur changing color?

There are some other symptoms of watery eyes, too. Does your dog have any discharge coming from their eyes? Do they have inflammation or ulcers around their corneas? Can you see scratches on your dog's eyes? It's possible that all of these symptoms could be pointing to reasons behind watery or "crying" eyes. 

Body Language

There are definitely some cues your dog could be giving you to point your attention to their watery eyes and to explain why they're crying so much. Some of them include:
  • Blinking
  • Paw raised
  • Averting eyes
  • Pacing
  • Scratching
  • Head tilting
  • Whale eye

Other Signs

But there's more to it than just a few simple body cues. Check out some of these other signs that might go hand-in-hand with doggy tears:
  • Obvious Water on Eyes
  • Loose, Sagging Skin Around the Eye
  • Cornea Ulcers or Scratches
  • Discharge from Eyes
  • Tear Stains on Furniture
  • Redness and Irritation
  • Squinting

Historic Causes of Doggy Crying

Like we said before, dogs can't cry in response to emotion, but their eyes definitely water and over-produce tears for lots of different reasons. Some of the main reported causes of doggy tears come from allergies or irritants. 

For example, your dog might get a few specks of dirt or allergens in their eye, so they'll produce tears to flush that out. They'll also produce tears to help heal a scratched cornea, a common condition for doggos who are active and playful. Your dog can even produce tears to help heal an infection. 

In all of these eye-cleaning scenarios, your dog is using a method that canines have been passing on for millenia. 

The Science of Dog Tears

Surprisingly enough, a dog's tear ducts work similarly to a human's. Their tear ducts will perform the same functions to help keep irritants out of their eyes. In other words, their tear ducts will release basal tears, as humans' do, to make sure the eyes stay moist. Reflexive tears are released to flush out irritants and allergens and to keep a dog's eyes safe from harm. 

Pooches do not, however, produce tears as a response to emotional stimulation. In fact, dog's don't produce what people consider "real tears" - those of sadness or pain. 
Don't mistake this for a slight against doggo emotions. Dogs can definitely feel things and get emotional, it just means that they can't express these feelings with their tears.

Training Your Dog to Deal with Tears

First things first, train yourself to remember that your dog isn't crying because he's sad. As people, we often thrust emotions onto dogs that might not be accurate, and as we stated before, dog's don't express sadness through tears. 

It's important to remember that the tears are a reaction to stimuli, so it's important to figure out what the cause is. We suggest training your dog to be alright with vet visits, not just for this occasion, but for any. Additionally, it's important to train your dog to be at peace with people touching their eyes. One of the best ways to do this is to provide positive reinforcement and lots of treats for when they do allow eye-touching. Try luring your pup in with a treat and slowly reaching toward their eye. Give them another treat. Repeat this process until your dog is calm, relaxed, and more interested in the treat than your hand reaching toward them!

How to React If Your Dog Cries

  • Talk with your vet.
  • Start looking for factors like allergens, that could affect your dog.
  • Check your dog's eyes for scratches, ulcers, and other lesions.
  • Carefully clean the area surrounding your dog's eyes.
  • If your vet prescribes them, give your dog special eye drops.

Tell Us About Your Crying Pooch!