“Why is my dog crying?” is not a question you have to ask every day, and yet, from time to time, your dog’s eyes will begin to produce tears.

But before you reach for the tissues, safe in the assumption he’s feeling a tad emotional today, consider this: dogs aren’t able to cry emotional tears. While they feel emotions very strongly and react to our positive and negative emotions like soul mates would, a dog isn’t physically able to express emotion through tears alone.  


Well, that’s all down to the fact that a dog’s tear duct drains back towards its throat. In essence, were a dog to produce tears because of an emotion, you wouldn’t see them anyway.

So why do tears form from time to time? 

Well, that could be a sign there’s a problem. Let’s take a look.

Possible problem #1: Dirt
If the tears come and go fairly quickly, the chances are high that your dog had a speck of dirt trapped in its eye, and that this is the source of the issue. This isn’t a serious problem and you’ve got little to worry about in this regard.

Possible problem #2: Epiphora
Does your dog have wet patches around its eyes, with fur that’s going brown or reddish? This is a classic sign of epiphora — a blocked tear duct — a serious condition that requires veterinary intervention. Seek professional help when you notice symptoms. 

Possible problem #3: Scratched cornea
Is your dog pawing at its eye, or blinking a lot? Is there inflammation in the region? Are the tears forming regularly? Your dog might have scratched its cornea, which is a common enough symptom in dogs that enjoy rough and tumble play and sprinting through shrubbery in the outdoors. Again, professional help is recommended. 

Possible problem #4: An eye infection 
Is your dog crying or whining? Are its eyes red? Is there perhaps a yellow discharge that covers a portion of the eye?  Conjunctivitis can be a serious problem if left untreated, and it’s one that is capable of causing permanent damage. Dogs that are at risk include poodles, pugs, Shih-Tzus, Pekingese and cocker spaniels. The good news is that, if caught quickly, specialized eye drops can take care of the problem. 

Possible problem #5: Allergies
Dogs are allergic to certain things, just as humans are. Food, smoke, pollen and dust can all be contributors. A vet will be able to work out what the underlying root cause is.

How to look after your dog’s eye health

  1. Keep dog hair short – long hair can scratch a dog’s own eyes. 
  2. On car journeys, make sure your dog’s head is firmly inside the car, not outside the window. 
  3. Use a dog eye wash to clean your dog’s eyes if they appear red or dry.
  4. Check your dog’s eyes regularly. If pupil sizes are different, or you notice a change in eye color, get your dog taken to a vet immediately. 

So there you have it – a lesson in doggy eye health, specifically focused on why dogs cry (even though they can’t actually cry). In short, any time a dog appears to be crying, there’s a sure sign something is wrong (and not the emotional kind).

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