Can Dogs Cry? The Real Reason Dogs shed A tear

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Can dogs cry? Our furry friends show all kinds of emotions we recognize, from happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. Their emotions can be so deep and multifaceted, that they can also suffer from anxiety and depression. Do these intense feelings result in tears? Can dogs cry?

Can Dogs cry?

A dog’s brain works in a uniquely different manner than a human brain, that’s why they get over-excited when they see sticks, cats, or fire hydrants… and we don’t.

Although dogs do feel sadness and grief, they deal with it differently. If you’re wondering, can dogs cry from sadness? Yes, they can, but dogs vocalize their unhappiness, they don’t shed tears as we do.

Our brains are automatically geared to trigger our tear ducts when we become overwhelmed with negative emotions.  

A dog’s brain, however, works in a simpler way. Although they do feel very real emotions, and experience sadness and pain, they don’t shed tears. Dogs show negative emotions and pain through whining or howling. 

can dogs cry - dog howling

Our furry friends are unable to tell us if they feel sad, so we must be alert for changes in their behavior and body language.

Dogs may use the following behaviors to show sadness:

  • Vocalizations such as whines and whimpers
  • Lethargy and low energy
  • Refusal to eat their food or indulge in their favorite treats
  • Changes in sleeping patterns or behavior
  • They seem sad or depressed in situations that they previously would have found fun and exciting.

Do Dogs Cry Tears?

Do dogs cry, and can dogs cry tears? The following section details the reasons why your dog may appear to cry, and what to do if you suspect your fluffy friend is suffering with an eye condition.

Here is a list of reasons why your dog has tears:

Can Dogs Cry Because of Infection?

Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can occur in your dog’s eye.  If your dog is crying out bloody, or yellow, mucus-filled tears, it’s a clear symptom of an eye infection.

Appropriate prescription medication will be required to treat an eye infection in your dog. This involves applying correct amounts of ointment or drops to the eye, for the prescribed amount of times per day.

Eye infections can also manifest as redness or swelling around the eyes.

It is important to get your dog to the veterinarian immediately if they are showing any of these symptoms.

Can Dogs Cry Because of Dirt and Debris?

Your dog might be crying because of eye irritation, such as grit, dirt, or dust. Any tears produced will only last until the eye has been cleaned.

Dog with tears

Excessive tearing to the eyes caused by an irritate or allergens can cause many dogs to rub their eyes. Pawing at already sore eyes will cause further irritation and inflammation.

As tempting as it might be to help your dog, do not flush large debris that may be damaging to your dog’s eye. Instead, immediately bandage the eye and take your dog to the vet straight away. Prevent your dog from pawing at the eye until your vet has examined the problem.

Can Dogs Cry Because of a Scratched Cornea?

Scratched corneas can occur as the result of an accident, especially if your dog is active. A scratched cornea is often the result of rough play with cats or other dogs, as well as running through thick brush.

Superficial scratches will usually heal quickly with no long-term damage to the dog’s eye. However, corneal ulcers can form from more serious, deep scratches.

If not treated, corneal ulcers may become serious and even lead to permanent vision loss, or loss of the eye entirely.

A dog with a sore, inflamed eye area may blink more than usual. The eye area may be wet with tears, and the pain could cause your dog to constantly paw at it.

If your dog has a scratched cornea, take your furry friend to the vet to prevent any serious long-term damage to their vision.

Can Dogs Cry Because of a Blocked Tear Duct?

Dogs have tear ducts just like humans. They help maintain healthy, functioning eyes. However, a dog’s tear ducts work slightly differently from that of a human.  Dogs have tear ducts that drain liquid back from the eyes to the nasal area, unlike humans who push out their tears.

Dogs that experience a blockage in the tear ducts will find that the tears will start to drip outwards, mimicking the way we cry. Epiphora is the name of the discharge that flows away from the eye.

dogs eyes tearing up

Epiphora can make the fur around the eyes of your dog damp. This may result in skin irritation around the eyes, and discoloring the surrounding fur a reddish-brown.

If your dog experiences persistent symptoms such as blocked tear ducts, take your furry friend to the veterinarian.

Can Dogs Cry Because of Allergies?

As with humans, allergies can be seasonal in dogs, or caused by chemicals in household products or certain foods.

Puppy with tears

It’s advisable to take your dog to the vet if you suspect allergies may be the cause of their crying.

You may notice symptoms such as:

  • Swelling
  • Coughing
  • Hives
  • Sneezing
  • Inflamation

You should also report any other symptoms to your vet. They will be able to determine the exact cause of your dog’s crying and recommend treatment.

Can Dogs Cry Because of Entropion?

Entropion refers to a condition where the eyelids roll inwards and rub against the front of the eyes, it can also affect both eyes. Although it is more common in the lower eyelids than in the upper, it can also affect both the upper and lower lids. If left untreated, entropion can cause the following problems:

  • Severe pain
  • Inflammation
  • Eye ulcers.
  • Scarring
  • Eye loss

Entropion causes the eyelashes and hairs that surround the eyes to rub on the cornea (the covering of the eye), and this is what produces the irritation.

Although it can affect the upper or lower lid of the eye, Entropion can affect one or both eyes. It’s a horrible condition for your dog to endure, and it’s highly advisable to get your dog checked out by a vet.

Can Dog Cry Because of Distichiasis?

Distichiasis instigates an abnormal growth of eyelashes. These hairs grow along the eyelids and towards the eyes, creating a painful irritation in the eye. 

You may notice increased blinking, extra tears, and squinting.

Distichiasis left untreated can lead to:

  • Corneal ulcers
  • Chronic eye pain
  • eyelid pain
  • permanent blindness.

Although there are similar symptoms, Distichiasis is a different condition than Entropion

Distichiasis refers to extra eyelashes. Entropion, on the other hand, is an inward roll or rolling of the eyelids that can cause irritation from normal eyelashes and hair.

Dry Eye

Keratocongunctivitis Sissa, better known as “Dry Eye” is a condition that occurs because of the underproduction of tears. Although dry eye is the opposite problem than over production of tears, it’s a problematic eye condition that’s worth a mention. The lack of lubrication of the eye can cause an unpleasant and painful irritation. Dry eyes can also lead to infections, pain, thick, sticky discharge, and visual problems.

This issue requires veterinary intervention.

Excessive Tears

It is important to act immediately if you notice an eye problem. If the drainage is mild and your dog’s eyes haven’t become reddened or swollen, it’s okay to wait and monitor the situation. 

dog crying

Make sure the eye area is as dry and clean as possible. It is important to get veterinary attention if the drainage does not improve on its own or you have other symptoms.

There are a few easy steps you can take to prevent excessive tearing if your dog is healthy.

Managing hair around eyes

Keep your dog’s hair around their eyes as short as you can. To avoid injury to the eyes, it’s a good idea to take your pet to a professional groomer to have it trimmed safely.

Eliminate environmental factors

There are many common factors that can irritate your dog’s eyes, from allergies, cigarette smoke or perfumes, deodorants, and spray air fresheners. If you think any of these things are causing your dog’s tearing problem, try to stop exposing your dog to the substance and see if there are any changes in the condition.

Daily eye washing

You can prevent your dog’s irritation and excessive tearing by washing their eyes daily and gently drying the area. To keep your dog’s eyes clean and healthy, you can use over-the-counter, optical-grade eye products. However, it is best to consult your veterinarian first if in doubt.

Regular vet checks

Regular visits to the veterinarian will help you spot any conditions that could affect your dog’s eyesight and overall health.


Dogs can feel sadness and other emotions. Although they are not as emotionally sophisticated as we are, they can still experience them.

The answer to the original question of, can dogs cry? Is simply no. 

The reason your dog appears to be watery-eyed with tears can range from a small dust particle irritating their eyes to more serious eye conditions that can require medical treatment.

can dogs cry - tears in eye

Eyes, while delicate, perform a vitally important role in our lives, this is also true for our dogs. When our furry best friend‘s eyes are at risk, the best thing we can do is to get them checked by a qualified professional.

If your dog is in pain with eyes that are continually filled with tears or discharge, make an appointment with your local vet as soon as you can. Before long your ball of fluff will be back to their usually fun-loving, bouncy self.

Don’t forget to look around the site or bookmark us for later, we’ve got a wide range of material on all sorts of dog-related subjects that we’re constantly updating.

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All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.


All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian's advice.
Jen Smart

Jen is the founder of, a leading resource for managing and treating anxiety in dogs. With over a decade of experience in working with rescue dogs, Jen holds diplomas in Understanding Canine Anxiety, Canine Holistic Health & Therapy, CBD Oil for Animals, and Zoopharmacognosy. Her expert insights help dog owners navigate the challenges of anxiety with compassionate, innovative solutions. Follow Jen’s guidance at Anxious Canine for a calmer, happier dog.

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