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You know that your dog feels emotions; he’s a sensitive animal, prone to joy, fear, sadness, and a range of other emotions. And of course, like most mammals, dogs have tear ducts. So, is there a connection between a dog’s brain and his tear ducts? No. While canines express needs and wants vocally, there is no scientific evidence proving that dogs, or any other animals, in fact, actually produce tears as a response to what they’re feeling. We seem to be the only species capable of breaking into emotional tears.

What we do know is that dogs can have empathic, compassionate responses when we find ourselves wiping tears away and snuffling into a tissue. An interesting study shows that comforting may be hardwired into dogs.

Certainly, dogs use a number of vocalizations to express themselves. Puppies learn to whine or whimper to get their mother’s attention. This behavior often carries into adulthood. Your dog may let you know he needs something—food, water, a potty break, or just a friendly pat—by “crying.”

We’ve all fallen for the sad gaze and heartbreaking whimper. But, if your dog’s eyes are tearing or you see traces of fluid, something else could be going on. Tear ducts keep the eyes clean and functioning correctly. Unlike in humans, however, the liquid drains back toward the throat and nose.

Sad golden retriever lying on the ground. Looks like crying
cunfek/Getty Images Plus

Reasons For Dog Tears

So, what does it mean if your dog seems to be crying?

  • He may have allergies. If he has a sensitive or allergic reaction to something—pollen, food ingredients, smoke, dander, or dust, for example—his eyes may water.
  • He might have a blocked tear duct, which causes your dog’s eyes to be damp and possibly irritated.
  • Wet eyes can also be caused by infection. If the fluid is yellow or bloody, this could be a symptom of an eye infection. Other symptoms include irritated or swollen eyes.
  • There could be a speck of dirt in his eye. The tears in this case should be temporary. If not, please consult your vet.
  • He may have a scratched cornea, which is more common in active dogs. His eyes may not only tear, but he might paw at his eye, blink more than usual, or have inflammation around the eye.

There are many different causes for excessive watering of the eyes in dogs, so it’s imperative to consult your veterinarian for an official diagnosis.

If by crying we mean whimpering, howling, mewling or whining, then yes, dogs most certainly do cry. But only in humans are tears mysteriously connected to our hearts and brains.

Related article: Why Is My Dog Whining?
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