Do Dogs Cry? 5 Ways Your Dog May Express Sadness

Do Dogs Cry 5 Ways Your Dog May Express Sadness

Dogs are empathetic creatures. After all, that is what makes them man’s best friend. You might have even seen your dog teary-eyed sometimes and asked yourself, “Do dogs cry? Do dogs feel emotions the way we do?”

The simple answer to that question is, yes, dogs do cry. But don’t be disheartened just yet. Dogs don’t actually cry because of sadness like we do. Tears in your dog’s eyes may just be their tear ducts at work to keep their eyes moist. However, excessive tearing can be an indicator of an underlying allergy or eye issues. As for sadness in dogs, they express it in ways other than by shedding tears.

Do Dogs Cry? 

Do dogs cry tears?

Yes, dogs do cry. They have tear ducts, also known as lacrimal ducts. Like in every animal, including humans, the tear ducts excrete tears that perform various eye functions.

There are three kinds of tears:

Types of tearsFunctions
Basal tearsTears that shield your eyes from dirt and debris and keep them lubricated
Reflex tearsTears that protect your eyes from irritants by washing them away
Emotional tearsTears that are triggered by strong emotions like happiness or sadness

Dogs only shed the first two types of tears, basal and reflex. The occasional tears that you see dripping down your dog’s eyes are usually reflex tears. Reflex tears are produced in larger amounts than basal tears as they need to be enough to wash out whatever debris is stuck in the eye.

They are unable to shed tears that are provoked by emotions. So, don’t worry, your dog isn’t crying because you scolded them for stealing food off your plate. It is just their body doing its duty to keep their eyes healthy.

When Should You Get Concerned about Your Dog’s Tears?

Tears in dogs are usually natural and there is nothing to worry about. What you need to watch out for is epiphora, or excessive tearing. It often presents itself as a symptom of more serious eye conditions like corneal ulcers, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, eyelid abnormalities, eye injuries, and lacrimal duct obstruction.

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The tear stains seen under your dog’s eyes is a vague indicator of how much tears they are producing. Dog tears contain a pigment called ‘porphyrin,’ which builds up on the fur under their eyes. The darkness of such stains can intensify under sunlight. While this is only a cosmetic issue, you can still confirm with your vet if it is a symptom of underlying eye problems.

If Dogs Don’t Cry, How Do They Express Sadness?

Dogs, like all animals, have their way of signaling distress. Understanding your non-verbal furry friend involves providing a lot of attention to their behavioral changes.


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When they are feeling down, dogs act more aloof than usual. They’ll curl up in a corner and won’t respond to you. Now, this could, very well, mean that they need some alone time. But prolonged avoidance could be an indicator of depression in dogs.

Destructive behavior

A common sign of a dog in distress is their unexpected destructive behavior. You may find your pooch barking a lot, and breaking stuff around the house. It’s usually not their fault, though. Overwhelming emotions of loneliness and sadness can drive them restless, resulting in troublesome behavior.

(Note: Destructive nature in dogs as a result of sadness should not be confused with destructive nature due to ill training)


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Whimpers are a natural reflex in dogs if they suddenly get physically hurt, like, their tail getting stepped on. But this reflex also extends to them trying to communicate emotional distress. Your dog may whine if they feel lonely while you’re at work, or if they lose their favorite toy. Whimpering is more common among older dogs who have a hard time coping with their cognitive decline.

Change in appetite

Many dogs avoid meals when they feel too sad. On the other end of the spectrum, some dogs also overeat as a coping mechanism. Both of these are extreme cases of sadness in dogs that develop into eating disorders over a long period. They are severely detrimental to the health of your dog.

Change in their sleep pattern

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If your dog is feeling down during the daytime, they won’t be able to sleep properly at night, either. If you find your dog whining at night and staying idle throughout the day, something might be bothering them.

What May Be Making Your Dog Sad?

Now that you know how dogs express their sadness, let’s go through things that can make your dog sad so that you can try to avoid them.

  • Dogs are prone to get sad if they’re alone, which is why many dog owners opt to raise two or more dogs together so they can keep each other company. Especially if they work away from home.
  • Dogs that have been raised with other pets can be seriously affected by the death of their companion. The risk of causing emotional trauma to your dog is one of the downsides of raising multiple pets. Dogs also mourn the same way to a family member or neighbor’s moving away.
  • Dogs do not take in changes very well as they are sensitive beings. Moving into a new home, making renovations to your house, being exposed to lots of new people, and even dynamic weather can distress your pooch.
  • Dogs that have physical discomfort, injuries, or chronic illnesses communicate their pain emotionally as well.
  • Dogs are emotionally devoted to their owners. Therefore, if you feel sad, the chances are that they will notice it and get sad too. A dog’s emotional well-being in a family is directly affected by the behavior of the family members towards them, and also towards each other.

Check out these tasty treats that can cheer your dog up while also freshening their breath and providing extra nutrients!

Why Do Puppies Cry?

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Puppies are notorious for being whiny. This behavior would be concerning in adult dogs, but it is actually expected of in puppies.

Like every other young animal, puppies cannot find food for themselves. Their only source of food for several weeks is their mother’s milk. Due to this, they instinctively cry and whine to get their mother’s attention.

While this works well in nature, it can get troublesome for puppy owners. The noisiness of puppies can get worse when separated from their mom and siblings. They will take a few nights to adjust to sleeping alone or near you. But until then, there’s no alternative to keeping earplugs on your bedside table.

How to Help Your Crying Dog?

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Since separation anxiety is one of the most common causes of stress in dogs, let’s first go through the ways in which you can help your dog cope with it.

  • Crate training your dog (make sure to monitor their behavior though, as different dogs react differently to crates)
  • Leaving a clothing item with your scent while you’re gone
  • Providing toys to keep them busy
  • Training them to associate sentences like,” I’ll be back” with you always returning home to them

Only extreme cases of separation anxiety require prescription medications (medications that can calm down their physical response to anxiety) or professional behavioral help.

If you think your dog is crying out of fear, you can comfort them and take them away from crowds or loud noises. If you think they’re crying out of physical pain, try detecting what is causing them discomfort. You can wrap superficial wounds, but take your pooch to the vet if you find a serious injury or suspect internal pain. Both fear and pain are indicated by whimpering and shallow breaths.

However, some dogs simply whimper to seek attention. If you are sure that your dog is not in discomfort but is still being noisy despite playing for hours, it is wise to ignore them. Over time, they should be able to understand that whimpering doesn’t always get them their way.

Do dogs cry? Yes. But it’s usually nothing to be too concerned about.  Nonetheless, always look out for behavioral changes in your dog to determine whether they are crying or whimpering due to boredom or are actually in distress. Consult your vet if you notice excessive tear production in your pup’s eyes. 

Visit our website for more information on commonly asked questions about dogs.

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