Behaviors and Training, Pet Health

Can Dogs Cry? Do Dogs Show Emotion And Is It Something To Be Worried About?

Lots of people aren’t sure of the answer to this seemingly simple question. Can dogs cry? Or is it a health issue causing your dog to weep? Why would your dog cry? Before you plan a visit to the vet, we’ve got some simple answers here that might help you understand more.

But I can see tears coming out of my pups eyes?

When I first saw my puppy shedding tears, I didn’t know what I should do or why he’d be crying, so I did a little research to figure out if there’s a reason behind those tears.

Can dogs cry actual tears?

There are so many stories of dogs saving their owners when they’re in trouble, but we don’t know if dogs actually feel empathy for us. We do know though that a dog will respond very uniquely to tears. They’re more likely to approach someone who is crying than someone talking or humming so they obviously understand when something is wrong. Studies also do show that dogs are more likely to respond with submissive behavior to make us feel better. I know my pup comes to me whenever I’m a little teary-eyed to cheer me up.

Now that we know that dogs can somehow feel empathetic, can dogs actually cry with us out of sadness?

Although dogs can indeed cry actual tears, it’s not necessarily out of emotion. Emotional crying has only been proven to be a human behavior. While other animals might cry, it’s not necessarily an emotional act.

Instead, dogs often turn to using their vocal chords to express their emotion. You might hear them whimpering when they’re trying to tell you something. They could feel separation anxiety when you’re leaving the home and start howling. Dogs might also whimper when they feel ill or are experiencing something that makes them feel uncomfortable.

What happens when dogs cry?

Since dogs have the same working tears ducts as humans do, of course, they’re capable of shedding tears. When dogs cry though, they’re not crying for emotional reasons. Sadness is expressed more strongly through whimpering, whining, and howling. They’ll do any of these things in order to show you that they’re sad, so they don’t actually have any reason to cry in response to sadness.

Dogs don’t cry for the same reasons we do, and instead shed tears in order to provide their eyes with the moisture they need or in response to an underlying issue.

When those tear ducts get blocked and your dog starts crying, that’s known as Epiphora. Some breeds are more likely to experience epiphora than others due to the shape of their face, which impacts how well fluid can stay in the eye. That’s why pugs and pit bulls especially have this problem.

Other breeds, however, shed tears most often due to medical issues like infection, conjunctivitis, allergies, eye injuries, abnormal lashes, corneal ulcers, anatomical abnormalities, or glaucoma.

What Causes Epiphora?

Epiphora can be caused by many things, some of the causes being very similar to what makes us cry. Sinusitis, for instance, can be a cause, which is when the sinuses become inflamed due to anything from a foreign object to conjunctivitis.

There are much more causes for Epiphora, however, like congenital defects where there’s a poor connection between the eyelid and tear drainage system. Poodles, bulldogs, and spaniels are especially prone to this condition. It’s important to remember that if your dog is crying, it’s not necessarily because of a medical condition. It can be just something that your dog’s breed experiences.Ectropion is another breed specific issue that may not be connected to medical problems and is most often seen in spaniels, bloodhounds, and great danes. This is a condition where the eyelid turns out slightly from birth or if there’s some facial nerve paralysis. This can cause that excess crying you see for seemingly no reason or at least no emotional reason.

Of course, larger and more rambunctious breeds can develop Epiphora through their own playfulness too. If the iris gets scratched, they can experience inflammation that will make them cry. In this case, take them to the vet just to make sure recovery is going well and they’re seeing properly.

Other Causes For Your Dog’s Teary Eyes

So you’ve brought your pet to the vet and you’ve had it completely checked over after they’ve been crying. It’s possible that your vet didn’t find anything like a serious eye obstruction or damage, so what else could be causing your little pup’s crying?

Something as simple as allergies could be to blame. Those tear ducts can get blocked, so every time your dog blinks, you’ll see tears running down its face! For the most part, it’s probably the same issue us humans have when spring time rolls around.

There are a few more serious causes than allergies though, like an infection or something irritating your dog’s eyes. That’s why if you find that your pup’s eyes are constantly watery, going to the vet is best. If the tears aren’t clear and are yellow, have mucous, or are bloody, that’s a sign that there’s a problem.

In extreme cases, your dog could also be experiencing glaucoma (which is an increased pressure on your dog’s eyeball) due to a fractured or even broken bone in its face.

With all this being said about medical issues, remember that dogs do experience strong emotions similarly to us. They may not shed tears in response to emotion, but you might see their eyes getting watery when you leave the house, or when something has upset them. Just remember to keep an eye on them to be sure it’s not something more serious. If they’re crying all the time, it’s a good choice to book in with the vet just to be sure everything’s ok.

Should I Be Worried When I See My Dog Cry?

In general, there’s no cause for worry unless your dog is persistently having teary eyes which might hint at a more serious underlying problem. Basically, if your dog’s eyes never seem to be dry and constantly tears up, there might be a problem with a blocked tear duct.

As mentioned, if your dog’s eye discharge is bloody, yellow or resembles mucus, you might want to book in for a visit to the vet. Also look out for any redness and inflammation in your dog’s eye. Another sign of trouble is if your dog’s eyes continually tear up for more than one or two days. If you spot any of these signs, it’s a sure hint that you need to get a medical opinion.


To conclude, yes dogs can cry actual tears but it’s not exactly because of sadness. Instead, dogs usually use their vocal chords to express their emotions. More than likely, your dog is shedding those tears either because of an allergy, another medical issue or even a breed hereditary issue. If you see those tears consistently, go to the vet. Are you worried about your dog’s crying? Share your experience with us in the comments!​