Last Updated on 9 months by Mike Ramsey
There has been a lot of research recently to find out if dogs can feel real human-like emotions and if so, which ones?
Some of the results have been very surprising. Dogs are very emotional creatures who are capable of feeling a lot of things.
But do dogs cry tears when sad?
Unfortunately, not much research has been done on this and many scientists are doubtful. But after watching videos like this where a dog seems to be crying genuine emotional tears, it seems like it must be possible.
According to some theories, those tears may just be a coincidence. Even though dogs do feel strong emotional ties to the ones they love, they seem to have different ways of expressing themselves. So far, humans seem to be the only species that cry tears for emotional reasons.
Can Dogs Cry Real Tears?
Some dog owners will swear to you that their dog cries. They might be right. Like humans and other mammals, dogs do have tear ducts. But can dogs cry tears like humans?
If your dog has tears in its eyes, it probably isn’t because it feels sad. So the answer to the question of can dogs cry with tears might be yes but it is probably for different reasons.
The more likely explanation is that your dog’s tear ducts are blocked. Normally, their tear ducts drain extra moisture from their eyes inside and down their throats. But when they are blocked, the extra moisture drains outside and down its cheeks instead.
This condition is called “epiphora” and it is usually not serious at all. It mostly happens to pugs, pitbulls, and other breeds that have those adorable squished faces. If it happens once in a while, it is nothing to worry about. It will go away on its own.
But if it is happening on a more regular basis, you may need to be concerned. Here are signs that you may need to take your dog to the vet:
- Epiphora lasts for an extended period of time (multiple days)
- The tears are not clear: they might be yellowish or bloody.
- The tears are thicker than usual
If you notice any of those three things, you should talk to a vet immediately. It may also be the result of allergies, so pay attention to when it usually occurs or gets worse.
Otherwise, you can care for your dog at home very easily. If you notice clear, watery tears on your dog’s cheeks, the solution is simple. Take a warm, wet washcloth and gently wipe your dog’s cheeks clean. Be careful to stay away from the eye area.
Doing this will be comforting for your dog and prevent the fur around its eyes from becoming crusted or sticky.
Can Dogs Feel Real Emotions?
Even though your dog probably isn’t crying because it is sad, it does have a very rich emotional life. Studies have confirmed that dogs are definitely very emotional creatures. This is most likely because they are pack animal.
Dogs are extremely loyal creatures. Their pack or family is the most important part of their lives. If you own a dog, you have a friend who loves and cares about you as deeply and unconditionally as any other family member.
Because of this amazing capacity to feel love for their “pack members”, dogs are also capable of feeling a deep sense of loss and grief when a member passes away or abandons them. They will be just as depressed as any human in these cases.
In addition, they can also feel guilt or shame when they have done something they know is bad. That means if they tear apart your favorite pair of shoes, they will definitely feel ashamed and guilty afterward because they know it will make you upset.
They also happen to be very good at reading human emotions which is what makes them such great pets. This is also why they always seem to know when you are down and need some furry company.
How Do Dogs Express Emotions?
So even though it seems unlikely that they cry tears for the same reasons that humans do, dogs do have many ways of showing their emotions. As a pet owner, you probably already know how to recognize what your dog is feeling.
Here are a few things dogs do express how they are feeling:
Grief and Sadness
- Whimpering or whining
- Loss of appetite
- Fear or anxiety
- Sleeping too much or too little
Joy and Excitement
- Excited tail wagging
Shame and Guilt
- Lowered head
- Ears pulled back
- Hunched posture
- Those classic, irresistible “puppy dog” eyes
And although they don’t cry, one study shows that they might be able to laugh!
Researchers noticed that while playing, dogs started to pant in a way that was different from their normal panting. It sounded suspiciously like laughter.
The researchers recorded this sound and played that recording for a separate group of dogs. When they heard, those dogs started to become playful and excited.
That means if you hear your dog making a weird laughing noise, you are hearing it right! It also means your dog is blissfully happy so you’re doing a great job!
So just because your dog might not be crying for the reasons we cry, that doesn’t mean you can’t know how your dog is feeling. They are very emotional creatures who are capable of feeling amazing amounts of love and compassion for you and anyone else in their “pack.”