Anyone who has ever been around dogs knows that they are fully capable of expressing emotions such as happiness and joy. Dogs also have ways of making it known when they are hungry or upset about something. Some may wonder since a dog can express all of these emotions just like people can, can dogs also convey feelings of sadness and can dogs cry from sadness or pain?
Can Dogs Cry?
The fact is that dogs do have tear ducts and are capable of shedding tears, however, these tears do not appear to be linked with emotions or feelings of sadness. Dogs can certainly express their sadness by moping or whining. Most of us have seen footage of a dog who is overjoyed at seeing his or her owner who has been away overseas in the service, or seen a sad dog laying by the foot of his owner's grave, yet tears do not seem to occur along with these feelings of sadness and empathy. So yes, dogs do cry, but not as a way of showing emotion, as they express themselves in other ways when they are sad.
Why Do Dogs Cry?
So now we have answered the question of "can dogs cry"?. Yes, they can. The more important question is rather, why are they crying? When a dog sheds tears, this is typically an indication that something is wrong. Just as with humans, if a dog encounters something that is irritating to his eyes, they will form tears to wash the offending matter away.
There may also be a more serious reason behind a dog's tears. Sometimes tears in a dog indicate that the dog has an eye infection. Upper respiratory infections and ear infections can also cause dogs to exhibit tears. Sometimes, tears can also be attributed to the breed of the dog. Dogs with flatter faces have their eyes exposed more to the air, which can cause them to tear up. Other breeds are also more prone to having tears and may even tear up after sneezing, This is usually referred to as the dog being "teary eyed".
Allergies may also be a culprit when it comes to the reason why a dog is producing visible tears. Just as in humans, an allergic reaction can trigger watering of the eyes. If your dog is an indoor dog, take note of their environment and anything that might be causing the allergic reaction. Some dogs are allergic to common allergens such as another animal in the house, or even dust. The culprit may also be something such as new carpet powder, or maybe a change in the laundry detergent you wash the pet's bedding in. Try to figure out and pinpoint what is causing the allergy in the animal and then take the necessary steps to remove the allergen from the dog's environment.
Are Dog Tears Linked To Pain?
While your dog may at some point suffer from an injury or an illness that causes them physical pain, rest assured that if they are shedding tears this is not due to their pain. If the eyes are red and irritated and appear to be causing the animal some discomfort, there could be an infection involved. If it is found that the tears were due to an infection, a visit to the veterinarian is in order so that the vet can prescribe medication to clear up the problem quickly. If you are still having issues with allergens causing an adverse reaction in your pet and have been unable to figure out what is causing them or find a solution for it, this is also something that you should bring up with your pet's veterinarian. In some cases, tears may result because the eye itself has been injured or has some debris in it that the tears are unable to wash away. This is another instance in which you may need to visit the vet's office.
When A Dog Appears To Actually Cry Flowing Tears
Dogs have tears for the same reason humans do, to provide the necessary moisture and lubrication required for the eyes to function properly. Normally, when the eyes are just producing the normal amount of tears for lubricating the eyes, you won't really notice them. In a dog, the tear ducts serve as a way to drain the moisture into the mouth and throat of the dog. However, if a tear duct becomes blocked, this can actually produce flowing tears which make it look like the dog is literally crying. Tears may actually roll down the cheeks of the dog. This is a condition known as epiphora. A few dog breeds are more susceptible to developing this condition due to the shape of their face. Pitbulls and pugs are good examples of this, due to their "squished" faces. In these cases, the epiphora is generally not a serious concern.
Epiphora can also be caused by congenital defects which tend to be breed specific. The result is poor function of the tear drainage system due to an inefficient connection with the eyelid. The breeds that commonly have this type of epiphora include spaniels, poodles, and bulldogs.
An outward turning of the eyelid known as ectropion is another cause of epiphora. The breeds most likely to have this condition include the Great Dane, bloodhounds, and Spaniels. This condition can be present from birth or can result from scarring from a trauma or paralysis of the facial nerve. Large dog breeds are also likely to suffer from epiphora, in part because of their rough and tumble style of play. This makes them more prone to suffering from eye injuries or inflammation which can lead to the development of epiphora.
Yes, dogs can and do "cry", but not as a way of expressing emotion. It is normal for a dog to produce tears and they are not an indication of suffering from sadness nor pain. If your dog's eyes are tearing excessively, first try to rule out an irritant, injury, or allergy. If excessive tearing becomes a cause for concern, visit your animal care specialist to determine the reason for the tears and to tell you how to take care of it.