Updated at: 24-12-2021 - By: petexpert

As we know, dogs are also highly emotional creatures. But do dogs cry? And if they do, do they cry for the same reasons we do? Today we’ll discuss the reasons why you’re finding tears in your dog’s eyes


If you’ve ever seen your dog with watery eyes or perhaps seen a tear fall, you’re probably wondering if dogs cry to show emotion. The simple answer is that they do not. Dogs use other means to elicit emotions, and teary-eyes in dogs could be due to a number of factors.

Do Dogs Cry When They’re Sad?

An emotional movie can turn on the waterworks for us humans. And while we know that dogs also experience sadness and pain, it turns out that humans are actually the only creatures whose tears are emotion-based.

Your sad dog will express his sadness in other ways. Whining, lack of energy, or loss of appetite are all signs that your dog is feeling sad or depressed. Check out Dogpackr’s previous article which lists signs of depression in dogs.

Do Dogs Cry When in Pain?

Tears are a way for humans to show each other that we are in pain. When you stub your toe so hard tears spring to your eyes, that shows the people around us that we are hurt. Dogs won’t cry when they’re in pain, but they will express their hurt in other ways. Howling, whining, or acting skittish can all be signs that your dog is hurt.

While he won’t show pain by crying, like we do, he will show you that he needs help. Check out Vetsnow’s article which lists other signs your dog may be in pain.

Purpose of Dog Tears

So, if dogs don’t cry because they’re sad or because they’re in pain like we do, then what is the purpose of dog tears?

Dogs have tear ducts like humans. But while our tear ducts help us cry for emotional reasons, dogs’ tear ducts are primarily for flushing out debris and keeping their eyes clear. However, a dog’s tear ducts actually drain into your dog’s nasal cavity. If your dog is healthy, he shouldn’t be crying tears.


Possible Reasons for Tears in Your Dog’s Eyes

Now that we know a dog will only cry tears if his eyes are unhealthy, what are some reasons why you can see his tears?

Causes of Tears

Your dog’s tearing could have a number of causes. Allergies will cause a dog’s eyes to water, just like humans’. Blocked tear ducts don’t allow the tears that are naturally produced with each blink of your dog’s eyes to drain properly, so they’ll spill over the lid and run down her face instead. An infection, a speck of dirt in her eye and a scratched cornea are possible causes for your dog to tear up.

Severe Symptoms to Watch for

A tear or two once in a while is nothing to become overly concerned about, but if your dog’s eyes are constantly watering you should have the vet examine her to determine if there is a serious issue causing the problem. If your dog’s eyes are secreting more than clear tears, the discharge is yellow, mucus or bloody and her eye is swollen or irritated, something serious is wrong and medical treatment is necessary.

Cleaning Dried Tears

If your dog sheds a few tears now and then, when they dry on the fur around her eyes and nose they’ll leave a bit of film. This won’t hurt your dog, but it can make your dog look as if she hasn’t been groomed in awhile, especially if dirt or other debris gets on her face and dries to her hair with the tears. You can safely wash away tear residue from around your dog’s eyes with a damp washcloth. Be careful to avoid the eyes themselves, but gently wipe the area around her eyes clean, speaking softly and reassuring her as you do so. If you give her a treat immediately afterward, she will be more likely to sit still for a face-washing the next time around.

So Why Do Dogs Cry?

Like humans, dogs also have tear ducts. They function to keep their eyes clear and comfortable. They also drain back into the nasal cavity instead of the eye. So ultimately, this means that something could be wrong if your dog is frequently teary-eyed.


Some possible reasons are that your dog could be developing an eye infection, he could have allergies, a blocked tear duct or he could possibly have some damage to the surface of the eye.

So if you do notice watery eyes in your dog, take a closer look to make sure that there isn’t something on the surface. However, if the problem is continuous and consistent, then you should probably take him in to see the vet.

So How Do Dogs Express Emotions?

Dogs may not cry like you and me; however, they do express the pain in significant ways. Just as human babies, puppies learn to cry out in order to receive comfort, nourishment and safety. So they will vocalize when the play has become too rough, or they are feeling cold, hungry or lonely.

Dogs tend to whine or whimper as they get older when they are separated from their owners or other furry friends. So while making a one-to-one comparison between dogs and humans is quite tricky, humans are, of course, more complex in their emotional and physical position.


Like us, dogs have tear ducts. Unlike us, however, their tear ducts are directed towards their nasal cavities. Plus, your dog doesn’t cry tears for the same reasons we do.

While we cry to show pain, sadness, or other extreme emotions, a dog’s tears are probable signs of eye problems like infections, allergies, and blocked tear ducts. While your dog won’t cry tears to show his emotions, he will communicate them to you in other ways. Watch out for signs of depression and stress like hiding, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, or weight loss. They might also communicate to you by howling, barking, or whining.

Even though dogs won’t cry tears to show you he’s sad or hurt, there are still ways to identify that he’s in pain or upset. It’s just a matter of learning his body language!

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