Do dogs cry? Can they feel sadness? Find out more below about the reasons why dogs cry and whine, and how to prevent it.
Do Dogs Cry?
Dogs are compassionate creatures that can easily express emotions like happiness, excitement, nervousness, and even sadness. As you know, when dogs are happy and excited, they tend to wag their tails or bark enthusiastically. And when they are anxious, they would cower, tremble, or whine. When dogs feel sad, they express it in ways dissimilar to humans. Instead of crying, dogs whine or whimper whenever they feel upset.
So yes, dogs do cry—but not for the reasons you think. When dogs cry, it’s not a form of emotional tears. Instead, it means that there is something physically wrong with them. It could be from allergies, blocked tear ducts, or eye infections.
Dogs can feel sadness too. It usually does not last long, but it happens. It can stem from different reasons like a change in environment, separation anxiety, or uneasiness. Furthermore, dogs can also get diagnosed with depression. According to Pet MD, dogs “certainly feel depression in the form of the blues, sadness, and grief.”
Sadness and Crying are not related
No matter how empathetic they are, dogs are actually incapable of crying due to sadness. That does not mean they are incapable of producing tears either. Tears, similar to humans, are essential for eye health. Tears protect the eyes from bacteria and debris by constantly flushing them out of the surface. It is also needed to keep the eyes from drying out. Dogs' tear ducts, however, drain differently like humans. Instead of draining tears from the eyes, dogs’ tear ducts drain to their nasal passages. So when you see your dog crying tears, this could mean a totally different reason apart from sadness. Excessive tearing could be due to a medical condition that needs urgent attention from you and the veterinarian.
Medical Issues that Cause Dog Crying
Blocked Tear Duct
Excessive tearing, also known as epiphora, is a symptom of blocked tear ducts in dogs. Other than the excessive tears, dogs with blocked tear ducts will experience wetness around their eyes and tear stains that cause discoloration in the fur around their eyes. Having blocked tear ducts can be caused by infection, parasites, or trauma. If symptoms persist, consult a veterinarian immediately.
To unblock the tear ducts, vets will need to do a nasolacrimal duct flushing. The dog will be put on sedation or general anesthesia, and vets with ophthalmic training will flush out the blockage to remove any debris or infectious materials.
Dogs with eye infections will cry tears that contain mucus or blood. Instead of clear liquid, affected dogs will cry out tears with yellow to red hues. Their eyes will also appear red, swollen, and irritated. If this is the case, seek medical help immediately as this can lead to a more serious problem that may cost them their eyesight.
Scratched corneas are also another reason why your dog is crying. It may have been caused by other dogs who accidentally scratched your dog’s eyes. This is particularly common in dogs who love to play rough in the dog park. Symptoms to watch out for are excessive blinking, pawing at the affected eye, and swelling around the eye. If you suspect that your dog’s corneas are scratched, visit the vet right away. It is best to minimize the damage as soon as possible.
Dirt and Dust
Dirt and dust can get stuck in your dog’s eyelids or eyelashes. If your dog is tearing up, gently lift their eyelids and check for any debris that may have gotten stuck in there. If the debris is small, you can carefully remove it by flushing the eye with cool water, or by using a pet-friendly eyewash. The tears should cease as soon as the debris is removed.
On the other hand, if you see larger debris stuck in their eye, do not remove it. Immediately go to the veterinarian and have it checked. It is important to cover the affected area and refrain your dog from pawing at it to avoid any further damage.
When humans have allergic reactions, their eyes can feel itchy, red, and irritated. They may even continuously tear up, depending on the severity of the allergic reaction. Dogs are the same. They can be allergic to dust, pollen, or certain scents or food. It is easy to spot an allergic reaction in dogs because of symptoms like swelling, sneezing, watery eyes, and inflammation. If you suspect that your dog is showing allergic reactions, ask your vet to run an allergy test to determine for sure what is causing the reaction in the first place.
What to do if your dog cries
Inspect their eyes
If you notice your dog crying, the first thing you should do is to check their eyes. It’s highly possible that specks of dirt and debris are stuck in their eye, and if that’s the case, flushing it out with water will do the trick.
By inspecting their eyes, you can also see how big the damage is, and if other underlying issues need immediate attention.
Consult with the vet
As always, if you are unsure of what to do in situations like this, it is best to consult a veterinarian. If you’ve done all you can as an owner—checked their eyelids, flushed out debris, identified allergens—and your dog still has not stopped crying, then they might be in a more serious predicament. It is never a bad idea to talk to your veterinarian.
Why Dogs Whine
Now that we have concluded that dogs do not shed emotional tears, let us now talk about how they express their sadness.
When dogs get sad, they communicate this emotion through whining, whimpering, or making irresistible puppy eyes. For the most part, dogs would whine and cower in a corner until their owners appease them. Below are some reasons why dogs whine.
They need attention
Surprise! Surprise! At the top of the list, dogs whine when they need attention from their owners. If your dog feels bored and neglected, it may whine to get your attention. Make sure to play with them and give them enough physical and mental stimulation.
They are scared
Sadness can also stem from fear and anxiety. Dogs will whine when they are scared. In addition to whining, they will also pace a lot, tremble, and sometimes even have shortness of breath. They are probably scared of their surroundings and whining is their way of communicating it. If this happens, owners need to address the issue. The dog can either be comforted by giving pets or taking them away from the scary situation itself.
They are stressed
Stressed or anxious dogs tend to whine. If you hear your dog whine as you leave the house, they may have separation anxiety. You can treat their anxieties through appropriate training. Crate training is a great technique to use for anxious dogs. Owners can train their dogs by associating their crates with things that they enjoy, like their favorite toy or treat. The goal is for dogs to feel safer in their crate, so whenever they get anxious, they can sit in their crate and feel better. In simple terms, their crate is their safe space.
Calming treats can be used as well. Dogsnob’s Calm Control helps ease anxieties and hyperactivity. It’s great for pups with separation anxiety, or for any time that they are in stressful situations.
They are in pain
A dog’s whine can also suggest physical pain. If your dog whines whenever they try to do any physical activity, then there must be an injury you are not aware of. It’s best to check your dog’s physique or have them checked by the veterinarian.
They are hungry
Similar to when dogs need attention, they will whine whenever they need something from their owner. Most likely they want food. Or they are begging for food. If they are still asking for more food even after feeding time, perhaps their food is not dense enough to make them fill full.
Dogsnob’s Multivitamin Gravy Topper is an amazing addition to a dog’s diet. Not only is it tasty (flavored with Smoked Turkey and Steak & Salmon), but it is packed with nutrients that fill in the gap left by traditional kibble.
Dogs are one of the most reactive creatures out there. They are great at showing emotions and have found ways to communicate each emotion to their owners. An excited dog will wag its tail to no end, a nervous dog may tuck its tail in between its legs, and a sad dog will whine and whimper.
Although dogs do not cry emotional tears, they are still capable of shedding a tear or two. However, dog tears mean something completely different. When dogs shed tears, it means that there is a medical issue involved. It could be from dirt getting stuck on their lashes, scratched cornea, blocked tear ducts, or an infection. Incessant crying is concerning and must be addressed immediately. If your dog hasn’t stopped crying or has wet eyes all the time, consult a veterinarian.