Can Dogs Cry – Do They Feel Happiness & Sorrow Like Humans?

Can Dogs Cry? If So, why?

Want to find out if dogs can cry? Worried that your furry friend has the blues? Read on to find out whether hounds can cry in the same way humans do!

Do Dogs Cry?

As far as we know, dogs don’t cry emotional tears when they’re sad, frustrated or angry. Humans seem to be the only animals whose tears reflect their emotions.

Dogs have tear ducts, just like humans, cats and most land-based mammals. These tear ducts keep the eyes healthy by lubricating them.

Canines may ‘tear up’, i.e. their eyes may become watery, and liquid may come out of their eyes, but it’s normally just to get irritants out. If your dog appears to be crying a lot, it could be due to a medical problem.

Medical Conditions In Dogs With Crying As A Symptom

If your pooch cries as a one off, it’s probably just because they have something in their eye. However, if they keep crying or if you notice something unusual about the liquid coming out of their eyes then it could be something more serious.

Here are some of the medical conditions associated with crying in dogs.

Allergies In Dogs

Dogs can get allergies just like humans. Dogs can be allergic to pollen, mould, dust, dander and other air born allergens. These allergens could irritate their eye and cause watering and tears.

It’s worth checking with your vet if you suspect your dog has an allergy, both to rule out other problems and so you can have the allergy confirmed and begin remove the allergens from your home environment.


Dogs can get conjunctivitis, inflammation of the tissues around the inner eyelids and the whites of their eyes.

Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergens or dry eye, but it could also be a symptom of a virus called Canine Distemper.

Blocked tear ducts/Ephiphora

Your dog’s eyes are normally lubricated and excess liquid is drained by the tear ducts (or lacrimal duct). However, if the tear ducts are blocked this can cause excessive tears – a symptom known as epiphora.

Epiphora isn’t a condition on its own. It’s a symptom of a larger issue or medical problem. It could be caused by blocked tear ducts, but it could also be a symptom of a more serious illness.

If your dog’s tear ducts are blocked, they can be flushed during an anesthetized operation.  There are also several treatments available to help reduce tear staining on the dog’s face.

You should take your dog to the vet if you notice excessive tears to rule out other factors and seek treatment.

Dogs with certain characteristics – like brachycephalic breeds such as pugs – are more likely to have epiphora symptoms.

Scratched Cornea

If your dog likes to spend a lot of time outside, their tears may be a result of a scratched cornea (i.e. a scratch in their eye).  Other symptoms of a scratched cornea include blinking, inflation around the eye or the daw pawing at their face. If you suspect your dog has scratched their cornea, take them to the vet to seek treatment


Excessive tears is one of the symptoms of Limbal melanoma, circular masses which are normally seen on the cornea. These tumours are normally benign, but you should take your dog to the vet to make sure.

Eye infections

The kind of liquid coming out of your dog’s eye can help you determine whether something more serious is going on. If the discharge is green, yellow, thick of bloody it’s time to take your hound to the vet as they may have an eye infection.

Abnormal eyelashes

In-growing eyelashes, eyelashes that grow from abnormal parts of the eyelid or eyelashes that grow inside the eyelid can damage the eyes and cause epiphora.

Do Dogs Feel Emotions?

Just because your dog may not sob when he’s sad doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel emotions. Dogs are vocal and may how, whimper and whine when they are in pain.

Experts believe that the majority of sounds a dog makes are meant to communicate a need rather than an emotional state, i.e. they may bark when they see someone as a threat and they may whine when they’re hungry or bored and they want food or attention.

However, dogs can feel grief, lonely, anxious, angry and afraid. Also, they can probably emphasise with human emotions!

Dogs are likely to approach a crying human with submissive, gentle behaviours as if they know that now isn’t the time to be boisterous. Every dog owner has their own story of a time when their dog was empathetic to their emotions.

What Should I Do If My Dog Starts Crying?

It’s probably nothing to worry about, but you should take your dog to the vet just to make sure!

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