If you’ve ever noticed your dog having weepy eyes, you might have initially thought that it had something to do with emotions, akin to when us humans cry. Many of us would have instinctively rushed to cuddle our dogs, wondering if they were feeling sad and lonely. But when a dog is crying, does it have anything to do with feelings?
As sentient beings, we know that dogs can feel, but if they have different ways of expressing it, how do we gauge their emotions accurately? Yes, physical cues may give us a clear indication of some emotions that they’re feeling. For example, when they’re wagging their tails, we know that they are happy or excited.
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But what about the moments when there are tears in their eyes? Is this actually an indication of sadness? Can dogs cry to express how they feel?
Do Dogs Cry When They’re Sad?
Can dogs cry as humans do? While it may be easy to think that dog crying translates to sadness, it is crucial to understand that crying in humans is not the same when it comes to dog body language.
When humans cry, self-soothing helps regulate emotions and calm down, but a dog cries to signal a health condition, mostly related to the eyes. While this may be counterintuitive to us humans, it helps make a mental note about these things not to misinterpret our dogs’ needs.
To provide some context — dogs also have tear ducts that allow for proper eye function, but the process is not exactly the same compared with humans. A dog’s tear ducts don’t function by spilling out the liquid. Instead, the liquid is drained at the back, leading to the nasal cavity.
So if your dog is crying tears, what could be the reason for this?
Why Do Dogs Cry Tears?
If it’s not because they’re sad, what could be the reason then? “Why is my dog crying?” you might ask.
There’s no single reason as to why dogs shed tears. So, if it happens, you might need to have a dog checked by a veterinarian to know the exact cause. To give you an idea, below are some of the possible reasons why dogs cry or have weepy eyes:
Blockage of tear ducts
If there’s a blockage in your dog’s tear ducts, you may notice tears falling down from their eyes. This symptom of overflowing tears is called epiphora. It’s hard not to miss when your dog has epiphora because this will be evident from the dampness around their eyes. The causes of epiphora are many, ranging from rhinitis and sinusitis to parasites and bone trauma.
If it’s been happening for a long time, it may also be accompanied by symptoms such as skin irritation and reddish or brownish fur around your dog’s eyes. Have your dog checked with the veterinarian to determine what’s causing the blockage.
Active and playful dogs are more prone to getting a corneal ulcer, which is also called a scratched cornea. The cornea is a transparent membrane that covers the dog’s eyeball. When your pup is playing rough with cats or when they like exploring thick bushes, scratching the cornea is entirely possible.
If you have a crying dog after intense playing outside, this may indicate that your pup’s cornea has a scratch. Apart from watery eyes, other signs may include excessive blinking, pawing at an eye, and swelling around the eye. Treating scratched cornea is complex since it depends on the severeness of the damage. So if you see these signs in your dog, consult with your veterinarian to determine a possible treatment.
In severe cases of corneal ulcer, the injury may reach the Descemet’s membrane, leading to a condition called descemetocele. This is an emergency since it may result in eye rupture. A rupture in the Descemet’s membrane may lead to blindness and permanent damage to your dog’s eye. It is therefore crucial to bring your cat to the vet immediately.
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If you’ve noticed that your dog is crying and that their tears are producing mucus, are yellowish, or contain blood, it could be a sign of an eye infection. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling and eye irritation. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it is best to have your dog checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible to get the treatment that they need.
Another cause of tears in dogs is conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the conjunctiva tissue. In healthy pooches, this tissue can hardly be seen. In dogs with conjunctivitis, the membranes become red and swollen, causing discharge from the eyes, excessive blinking, and swelling around the eyes.
Conjunctivitis in dogs can sometimes be caused by the obstruction of nasolacrimal or tear ducts. Put it simply, this inflammation might cause dogs to cry tears. If your pup has swelling around the eyes and discharges tears, scheduling a visit to a vet is a must. Luckily for dogs, conjunctivitis is usually easy to treat, especially if you contact a specialist early.
Watery eyes in dogs are also among the allergy signs. When it comes to allergies, however, there are many possible causes. These may include food ingredients, pollen, scents, dust, smoke, among others.
A veterinarian needs to run a few tests to determine a particular allergen. If you’ve made any changes to your pup’s diet, dog tears may be a reaction to a specific food allergen. Try an elimination diet to determine what specific food ingredient caused watery eyes, and make the necessary adjustments.
Dirt or Dust
If your dog has tears after digging up in the backyard, the chances are high that a speck of dust or dirt got into an eyelash. Usually, it’s quite harmless, and the dog’s tears will stop soon. However, if the tears won’t go away, you might need to take your dog to their veterinarian to determine what’s causing this condition.
If your dog has watery crying eyes, ask a veterinarian for professional advice. For most cases, online consultation would be more than enough to see whether it is something serious or just a minor issue that will be fine in several days with more attention to it. For 24/7 vet help, you can try Online Vet by Petcube — an Online Chat with a licensed vet any time you have a question in mind.
Tears in our dog’s eyes don’t mean they are crying out of emotions. However, upon understanding that dogs have their own way of expressing emotions, we come to know that tears may actually indicate something else.
While we might instinctively want to comfort our dogs when they are in tears, it’s important to remember that there’s a different cause for their weepy eyes that a serious condition may cause.
Suppose your dog’s tears don’t subside easily. In that case, it’s best to have them checked by a veterinarian to determine the exact reason for their watery eyes and help them get proper medical treatment if necessary.
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