All dog owners know that their pups have feelings. They can be scared, happy, guilty, and even sad. When you have a forlorn pup, it can almost appear like he is crying with his sad, glassy eyes. But is he really? Do dogs cry tears?
While they don’t really cry the same way that a human does, a dog still can feel grief and sadness. However, they aren’t going to cry when they feel that way. In fact, a human is actually the only animal that sheds tears when they are upset.
So, what is that fluid that runs out of a dog’s eyes if it isn’t tears? And how do dogs react when they are sad if they are not able to cry?
Can a Dog Cry?
Well, no. If a dog’s eyes are healthy, then he won’t be able to tear up. Dogs are equipped with tear ducts that function basically to keep their eyes clear of debris and feeling comfortable. A dog’s tear will drain back into his nasal cavity instead of dripping out of his eyes. When a dog tears up, this is telling you that there might be something wrong. Here are a few reasons why a dog may have tears in his eyes:
Just like a human, allergies may cause your dog’s eyes to start to water or shed tears as how it may look like. A dog may be allergic to several things like food ingredients, smoke, dander, dust, or pollen. Perhaps not surprisingly, dogs can be allergic to cats, too! While an air purifier for pets will likely help your dog in many of the same ways it helps you, your veterinarian can run some tests and even put your dog on an elimination diet in order to figure out the causes of your dog’s allergic reaction.
Blocked Tear Ducts
When we think dogs cry, what really happens is that your dog’s tear duct gets blocked and tears start to flow from the eyes. The discharge from his eyes is called epiphora. The area around a dog’s eye will be damp if he has epiphora, and, if a dog has had it a while, then his skin may be irritated or have a reddish or brown color around his eyes. Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms.
When you see bloody, yellow, or mucus tears on your dog, it can be a signal that your dog is suffering from an eye infection. Irritated or swollen eyes may be other symptoms that can be a sign of something very wrong with your dog, so it’s important to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Active dogs can be susceptible to scratched corneas. Any rough play with a cat or dog, projectiles, and running through some thick brush can cause a dog to get a scratched cornea. If you notice your dog tearing, blinking a lot, pawing at his eye, or an inflamed area around his eye, then it’s important to take your pup to the veterinarian.
Piece of Dirt
A dog may also tear up if he has dirt in his eye or even an eyelash. If you suspect this is the case, his tears will stop soon. But, if you notice that your dog is tearing for a long time or he develops more serious symptoms, it’s important to take him to the vet and get his eye checked out.
While it may very well appear like your dog is crying tears, typically it is an indication of something wrong with your dog’s eyes. If you notice consistent tears for a long period of time, make sure you take your dog to see the vet for an examination.
If your dog’s eyes are watering, you may want to get a closer look to ensure that there’s nothing wrong with his eye’s surface. If the leaking or crying continues over several days, it’s time to take him to the veterinarian.
How Do Dogs Express Their Emotional Pain?
While a dog doesn’t cry when he gets sad, he is able to express his more painful reactions in other ways. As a puppy, dogs learn, just like a human baby, that if they cry out, they will receive safety, food, and comfort. A puppy will also vocalize when playtime has become too rough or let their mothers know when they are lonely, hungry, or cold. In adulthood, a dog will whimper or whine when he is separated from other dogs in your home or his owners or when he really wants a treat.
It’s not easy to draw a comparison directly between human and dog emotions, but we do know that a human is more nuanced when it comes to our psychological and emotional composition. Even though a dog may feel a range of emotions, he is usually reacting to his impulses and surroundings instead of experiencing any strong rushes of feeling. Remember, a dog can learn to adjust his behavior to suit his needs, so it’s possible that some of his expressions can appear emotional, but are in fact somewhat manipulative. Especially if he wants a dog treat.
While we may never be completely certain what our dog is feeling, it’s possible to decipher their moods and messages so we can respond accordingly. And that is the primary bone that we have with our pups, the ability to respond to their affection, joy, and attention while they thrive on ours.
We already know that a dog may make distinct or unusual vocalizations when they see their owner injured or harmed in some way. What this tells us is that a dog not only expresses emotional ache or strain, but he can also empathize with what is going on with their owner or family.
It’s a whole other question though as to whether a dog can really feel compassion the way that humans feel it. Whatever the true answer, we do know that dogs have the ability to understand that we are in distress and they often try to provide some comfort to us as a result. That is just one of the reasons why they have become man’s best friend.
So, How Does a Dog Show His Emotions?
The ability to cry isn’t the only way a dog can show us he’s sad. Dogs are known to grieve, become sad, and also experience many other emotions. Since humans are the only animal that is capable of crying tears when we’re sad, we’re kind of the anomaly. Every other animal experiences their emotions in different ways like a dog without crying.
Dogs can signal that they are distressed, sad, or lonely without tears by just simply whining or whimpering, which we often refer to as crying. They do this as soon as they are born to signal to their mother what they need. So, it’s important that a dog would give more of a verbal cue instead of a visual one.
When puppies start to whine, their mother is able to find them quickly, even when the puppy isn’t in her sightline. But, if the puppy was crying silently using tears like a human, then his mother may not notice what’s wrong until it’s too late. However, dogs don’t only whimper and whine when they are sad, they can also get depressed, just like a human.
Since it may not always be clear why your dog may be depressed, it’s important to look out for these signs:
- Your dog is less active than he normally is
- He has become withdrawn
- He isn’t participating in the same things he has always enjoyed
- He sleeps less or more than normal
- He has changed in his eating habits
- He seems less active than he normally is
Are Dog Tears Different from a Human’s Tears?
Yes, a dog’s tears are different from our own tears. A dog has a more complicated eye moisture and lubrication system. A dog has a third eyelid that is located in the inner portion of his lower eyelids. The third eyelid is a clear structure that will move over his eye in order to protect it. The eyelid also moistens his cornea while allowing him to maintain his vision and producing lymph fluid, which will help to prevent infection.
Why does my dog cry real tears?
There are several reasons why a dog may cry real tears. Certain dogs, like a French Bulldog, can be prone to eye issues. These flat-faced dogs are more vulnerable to eye problems that may cause tears and eye-watering.
A dog has three types of glands that keep its eyes moist. All these glands work together in producing the moisture that your dog needs in order to keep his eyes functioning properly and healthy. Called lacrimal glands, mucus glands, and meibomian glands, they are responsible for producing watery tears, mucus, and oily tears respectively. As your dog blinks, all three of these glands are combined creating a thick fluid that will take longer to evaporate but offers better protection to a dog’s eyes.
Do dog’s eyes water when they are sad?
Dogs can definitely shed moisture from their eyes. But it may not be due to an emotional reason like a human. Dogs can tear up from an allergic reaction or blocked tear ducts, scratched corneas, or eye infections. They also can tear up from a simple speck of dust in their eyes.
Why does my dog have tears?
There are several common causes of a dog releasing tears. Similar to a human, allergies may cause your dog’s eyes to begin to water. A dog can be allergic to several things like smoke, dust, and pollen. Dogs can also get things in their eyes or scratch their corneas, which can cause them to tear up, and they can also get blocked tear ducts and eye infections that can also cause tears.
How do you know when a dog is crying?
It’s important to remember that your dog is able to understand your cues and know how you are feeling. You should also remember that you need to pay attention to the cues to your dog’s body signals. Just like our own reactions are visible in our voice, posture, and faces, a dog will send you similar signals using his body language. Each cue has a meaning that can become clear when you consider your dog’s personality and the context of the cues like knowing what your dog’s ear positions mean.
There are many ways that a dog can show you his love and deference just by using his soft eye. When you see a dog yawning, he isn’t bored or tired, he is actually telling you that he is comfortable and wants to enjoy your favor. If your dog stares at you, it can be a sign of desire, or if your dog has high energy, he may greet you by licking or jumping on you or even crying.
Dogs can be known to follow their owners around to show attachment and affection. Since dogs can be so close to us, they are able to tell when you are distressed, afraid, or sad. Hormones and chemicals are released as you cry, and that can signal a dog that something is wrong.
Dogs can also notice changes in your body posture, plus your dog will certainly react to your cries and whimpers. Your dog will want to comfort you any way they are able, plus they are great at mimicking and can even copy sad behavior to show that they share your sadness.