Do Dogs Cry Tears?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Perhaps you spotted tears streaming from your pet’s eyes and wondered: do dogs cry tears as an emotional response? Or is there a different explanation for this phenomenon? Well, the answer is pretty straightforward – dogs don’t produce tears because of their emotions like we humans do. They produce tears primarily to lubricate their eyes, and remove dust and other irritants. But, this does not mean that they don’t express emotions in other ways – here’s what you need to know about your teary-eyed furball.

Do Dogs Cry Real Tears?

If you spot tears running from your dog’s eyes, you are not deceived – they are real. However, they are not tears of sadness or emotion, as dogs simply don’t express feelings the same way as we do. The role of those tears is more of a bodily function. They are there to lubricate the eye, making sure it functions as it should. After all, dogs can just rub their eyes or place a few drops inside when needed. So, their body does the job for them, and hence the tears. 

Of course, an excessive amount of tears is not natural. And neither are dry and tearless eyes. So, in either one of these cases, you should schedule a visit with your vet. Dry eyes in dogs are also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or "dry eye syndrome," and can lead to discomfort, irritation, and potential complications if left untreated. In many cases of dry eyes, veterinarians prescribe artificial tears or  lubricating eye drops to help moisturize the eyes and relieve discomfort. These drops can help supplement the natural tear production and provide relief from dryness. 

Similarly, too many tears can be bad as well. Excessive tearing or watery eyes, known as epiphora, can be a potential sign of too many irritants in your area. Dust, smoke, or allergens can all cause too many tears to stream from your pet’s eyes. And, if this is followed by redness, swelling, squinting, excessive rubbing of the eyes, and similar, it could all indicate an eye injury or an infection. 

If you spot tear stains under your pet’s eyes, you should wipe away the excess with  wipes specially made for this purpose. If you don’t, you risk irritation and infection. Remember that a major part of caring for your dog is keeping their eyes clean and healthy. What is more, if you neglect cleaning these tears, they can leave pesky dark stains in the corners of your pet’s eyes, and cause even more difficulties. 

Of course, if you suspect that the tearing is not caused by something harmless in your dog’s case, then head on to the vet. If irritation or an injury is in question, your vet will prescribe the right treatment.

So there we have it – dogs don’t really cry tears of emotion! But even so, they do communicate their feelings in a variety of different ways. In fact, they convey a lot through their body language. They may wag their tail when happy or excited, tuck their tail between their legs when scared or anxious, raise their hackles when feeling threatened, or display submissive behaviors like rolling over or licking their lips. And although they are not as expressive as humans, dogs can still convey emotions through their facial expressions. They may furrow their brows when concerned or tilt their heads to express curiosity or confusion. All that is left is to gradually get to know your four-legged friend and all the ways in which they express themselves. Even if it’s not always as straightforward as you’d like it to be!

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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