Do Dogs Cry?

We sometimes see dogs shedding tears and feel perplexed about the reason for the perceived sadness by the dog. Our pets cannot speak human language and truly understanding their concern becomes a mystery. But do tears of a dog signify sadness or there could be some other feelings behind them? Let us decipher this mystery today.

Before we discuss if dogs cry, let us understand the evolutionary reasons behind the crying phenomenon of humans. According to Israelian evolutionary biologist Oren Hassen, crying and the resultant tears in humans is a communication sign conveying that the person crying is harmless and not a threat. Tears in the eyes restrict peripheral vision thereby impacting a human’s ability to fight or strike thus striking a conciliatory signal to others in the vicinity. You would have seen the sudden effect of a person who is fighting but suddenly breaks into tears and how it quickly defuses the escalating situation.

Dogs are known to experience emotions of that of a 3 year old human kid. But does that mean that a dog cries when it’s sad?  Science tells us that dogs do experience sadness but that does not manifest as tears in their eyes. In other words, dogs do not shed tears like humans. However, dogs are known to cry by whining, howling or yelping. For e.g. dogs suffering from separation anxiety are known to whine a lot when left alone.

Related Article: Body language of Dogs

But how does this explain the tears that we sometimes see in our beloved dog’s eyes? Such tears are said to result out of several medical conditions some of them being:

  1. Allergies

Your dog may be allergic to smoke, pollen grains, dust etc resulting into tears. Tears are secreted in order to wash the exposed eye area clean. Your Vet will prescribe some eye drops to help reduce the effects of the allergy.

  1. Blocked Tear Duct

Blocked tear ducts will cause the tears to overflow through the eyes since regular tear drainage duct is closed.  A veterinarian can easily reopen closed tear drainage ducts by calming the dog through a sedative and flushing the drainage through special instruments.

  1. Infection

Wet eyes are typically a result of some kind of eye infection. Any yellow or bloody colour of the tear may warrant a quick attention and visit to a Vet and necessary treatment.

  1. Temporary irritation

Most like humans, a speck of dirt or some foreign object that lands into our eyes leads to secretion of tears that helps clean the irritant. You can have a close look into the eyes to remove the irritant or wash them if necessary.

  1. Scratched cornea

Dogs often scratch their ears and eyes with their paws. Sometimes such swiping can result into a scratched cornea and the resultant secretion of tears. Slight scratches can heal themselves out but serious ones need to be treated by a Vet to stop it from developing into an infection.

Epiphora is the medical condition name for having excessive tears in a dog’s eyes. But do you know that dogs have 3 eyelids? They have a top eyelid, a bottom eyelid and a third eyelid called as the nictitating membrane. It is not easily visible when a dog is awake but can be seen when it is sleeping. Nictitating eyelid is a pinkish red membrane located at the inner corner of a dog’s eye. It helps protects the eyes when a dog is sleeping by removing any irritants.

So the next time you see tears in your beloved dog’s eyes, help them remove the irritant. But if they are feeling sad and whining a lot, comfort and treat them.

Related topic: 10 things you can do to make your dog really happy