Can Dogs Cry Real Tears?

Sometimes I look into my dog’s eyes and sense a certain sadness. I wait for the tears to flow but they don’t – that’s because he notices a treat in my hand and he’s again happy! Even though the tears didn’t come this time, I wonder – do dogs cry tears?

Fluid Worries
If you’re noticing fluid coming from your dog’s eyes, don’t immediately assume your dog is crying. Dog’s don’t cry like we humans do. A dog’s “crying” is typically known as a whimper. Whimpering can be caused by a number of different reasons. Your dog may have to go out for a duty call or perhaps he wants your attention for some other reason. It’s up to you to determine why your dog is whimpering. So if you see tears flowing from your dog’s eyes, something is definitely wrong and it’s not because your dog has become emotional!

Comfort in Sorrow?
Thousands of years of domestication by humans can conjure up a myriad of dog tales and to this day pet owners have some type of story to tell how their dog has provided them with some understanding and comfort in sorrowful times. This is because dog’s know how to communicate with us but they don’t demonstrate their understanding of empathy and pain.

A dog will most likely respond to tears in a unique manner by approaching the weeping person in a consoling manner rather than approach someone who is humming or singing. This information is according to an online study published in the journal “Animal Cognition” at The University of London. But even though this would be how a dog would react to someone’s pain it is not proof that they do. What the experiment did do, however, was to prove that dogs could differentiate between the crying and the humming. They hadn’t been driven by pure curiosity but by some other powerful overall response.

Dry Eyes
Our dog, Angel, suffers from a dry eye ailment which we treat with an ointment that lubricates his eyes, so I cannot ever say he’s cried tears for us. Other dogs may have shed tears but it may not be for the emotional reasons we think. Tears are an action usually associated to humans but this is not to say that dog’s do not grieve. They do have their own grieving manner; it’s just not necessarily found in the shedding of tears.

Traumatic Situations
When a dog doesn’t want you to leave or you’re not giving them their treat, or someone steps on a tail or a paw, the dog may whine and bring about tears. These are the results of a traumatic experience but there are also other reasons for doggie tears.

Other Tear Causes
Allergies are a huge cause of a dog’s watery eyes. Blocked tear ducts will produce tears running down a dog’s eyes with each blink that look remarkably like a dogs crying. Tear ducts drain liquid back into the nose and throat area of the dog. Blocked tear ducts are a sign for medical aid. In dogs this blockage is known as epiphora. An eye infection is still another cause of watery and infected eyes. If your dog’s eyes are constantly watering it would be best to make a veterinarian appointment as soon as possible, especially if the tears aren’t clear and the discharge is yellow or bloody.

By Tom Matteo


VCA Animal Hospitals

About the Author
Tom Matteo has been a freelance writer since 1992. He has written hardware and software reviews for computers and gaming systems, and now writes about animal behavior and care. Tom resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife, Tina, and their beloved cockapoo, Angel.