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Do Dogs Cry? – Tears and Dogs Explained

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“Do dogs cry?” is a very broad question. There are so many ways to answer it!

Our perception of “crying” as humans doesn’t apply to animals in the same way, since “crying” to us means tears, a runny nose, and sobbing.

Dogs, on the other hand, express some of their emotions vocally with whining, howling or whimpering.

Perhaps the real question you want the answer to is, “Can dogs form tears?”

We hit the books to find some real answers to these questions and would love to share our discoveries with you in this article.

Dogs and Tears

For dogs, tears aren’t a sign of sadness; they have a completely different meaning. WebMD points out some interesting info when it comes to explaining dog tears.

Chronic tearing is also a problem for dogs with “…eyes (that) are continually irritated,” but that might be due to an underlying medical condition so don’t make any assumptions.

We’ll look at this next.

  • Medical Condition. WebMD also goes on to explain that a variety of medical conditions could be the cause of dog’s constant tears, anything from shallow eye sockets to eyelids that roll inward and block tear drainage, excessive hair growth around the eye or even an infection.

Doggy eye discharge is known formally as Epiphora, which is, “…an overflow of tears from the eyes,” as explained by the VCA Hospital.

Even your dog’s diet and the mineral content of the water they drink might be linked to their excessive tearing! That is what we discovered in this useful video, and that will shed some light onto the reasons behind teary-eyed dogs from an experienced veterinarian.

Keep in mind that some breeds are more prone to tearing and tearstains around the eyes than others are (Maltese is the first breed to come to mind), so if you have a particularly “weepy” dog, it may be a common problem of the breed.

Vocal Communication – Whimpering, Howling, and Whining

Some of you who want to know the answer to the, “Do dogs cry?” question may have asked it because you thought that dogs were capable of expressing emotion in the form of tears, but as we have already discussed, this is not the case.

Dogs express emotion in many different ways, and those that we humans recognize most are the vocal forms.

  • Howling. Why do dogs howl, anyways?

To communicate, of course! This video explains it pretty well and will reveal why it is that dogs howl at sirens (fast forward to 0:35 for the answer to the siren question).

  • Whining & Whimpering. Whining and whimpering are quite common behaviors, and there are so many different reasons why dogs do it.

As Vet Street explains, the main reason is that your dog wants your attention. They learn as puppies from their mother that whining will get her attention, and it is an important way of communicating with her. The same goes for you, human “mom” or human “dad!”

They may want your attention for a variety of reasons, including:

    • Emotional. Dogs express frustration, excitement, happiness, fright, or anxiousness, with a little whimpering and whining, which is normal.
    • Hunger. Maybe it’s dinner time, and your eyes are glued to the TV. A little whine or whimper may be your dog’s day of saying, “Feed me, dear human!”
    • Pain. Many think that pain is the only reason for whining and whimpering, probably because that it what we humans do to let other humans know that something hurts.

The same goes for dogs, but just because yours is whimpering in front of the door doesn’t mean his feet hurt: he probably just wants to go outside.

Many of you may have seen this viral video from a few years back of a wolf dog “crying” over his owner’s grave after she passed away.

While many interpret this as crying, there are no tears.

Quite a few people have simply stated that the dog is reverse sneezing, which is normal, but given the circumstances and the location, it does seem that the dog is aware of his former owner’s presence at the grave site and might be showing visible signs of distress.

Consult Your Vet!

If you do have a dog that has excessively teary, watery eyes, it could be due to a more serious problem that requires veterinary attention. When in doubt, always consult your vet to be sure.

It is one thing of your pet runs through a cloud of dust and then their eyes water to flush out all of the dust particles, and another thing if the tearing continues long after the dust has settled and things are back to normal.

The question shouldn’t simply be, “Do dogs cry?” but rather, “Why are my dog’s eyes watering and is there an underlying issue causing the Epiphora?”

Never make human assumptions when it comes to your pet’s health! It is in their best interests that you “think like a dog” to address the issues that they cannot verbally discuss with you.

Our Sources

For further reading, you can check out these reliable online resources that we used.




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