Has your dog ever stared at you with sad eyes? Maybe even with a tear or two? If you thought they may have been crying, you aren’t alone. Many owners assume their dog cries tears of sadness, but that is actually not true. Although dogs are sensitive and compassionate creatures, dogs cannot cry tears of sadness. So what does it mean if your dog looks like they’re crying and how do they react to someone else crying? Read on to learn more.
Why Dogs “Cry”
Like humans, dogs have tear ducts that helps keep their eyes functioning properly. Unlike humans, though, the tear ducts drain liquid back towards the nose and throat area. But, just because they don’t cry out of sadness, doesn’t mean they don’t experience sorrow. Dogs grieve in their own way – not by shedding tears but by becoming aloof or lethargic.
So, if your dog looks like they are crying, it might be a sign something is wrong. Allergies can cause eye watering. Dogs can be allergic to environmental factors like dust, pollen, and smoke or food ingredients. If your dog has an infection, you may notice yellow, mucusy, or bloody tears. If your dog’s tears look like that, bring them to the vet immediately.
Dogs can also suffer from blocked tear ducts which causes eye discharge known as epiphora. You can tell it is epiphora if the area around their eye is damp. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms.
Active dogs can suffer from scratched corneas. Rough play or running through thick bushes can lead to a scratched cornea and cause your dog to paw at their eye, blink a lot, or have an inflamed eye area.
Lastly, a dog could simply have a speck a dirt or eyelash stuck in their eye. If this is the case, the tearing should clear up on its own but watch for more serious or prolonged symptoms.
A Dogs Response to Tears
Now that you know why dogs cry, it’s time to look at how they respond to someone else crying. Studies have shown that dogs respond to tears uniquely. Dogs are more likely to approach a person who is crying over someone is humming or talking. They also respond with submissive behavior to someone who is crying.
Though it is not proven that dogs can understand our pain or demonstrate empathy, the fact that they can differentiate between humming and crying points to a stronger overall response than just curiosity.
So, next time you notice tears in your pup’s eyes, make sure it isn’t a sign of something more serious. And next time you’re feeling down, watch how your dog reacts to you. You may be surprised how responsive they are!