Anyone who’s owned a dog is familiar with their little whines and howls. These sounds can sound an awful lot like a cry. Clearly your dog is attempting to express themselves. This begs the question, do dogs actually cry?

The relationship between people and dogs is so complex, and dogs do have a lot of signals that we can read. This is why we’re looking more closely at how dogs communicate the way they feel.

Reasons Why Dogs Might Cry

There are many reasons why a dog might cry. Do dogs cry from emotional distress? We know that dogs exhibit many emotions. Actually, anyone who’s ever been on the internet has probably seen funny videos of dogs showing how happy or frustrated they are. Are we likely to see a dog crying when they are sad?

The answer is no. Dogs definitely do show sadness in certain ways. While humans cry from emotional distress, a dog will not cry when they are sad. But there are a number of reasons why a dog would cry or have a fluid leak from their eyes.


Allergy sufferers know the inconvenience of watery eyes or a sneezing fit during the springtime, and your dog can be affected too. Watery eyes may be caused by:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Food
  • Laundry detergent
  • Chemicals

Depending on what is causing your dog’s watery eyes, you should look into removing the irritant. If dust is the problem, try cleaning your home more often or do some occasional deep cleaning for things you don’t cleanse as often – like drapes and bedding. If your dog’s having a reaction to a new food, replace the food. If you sprayed your lawn with a fertilizer or weed killer, only take your dog out on a leash to make sure they do not come into contact with the chemicals you used.

What do you do if you’re not sure why your dog is having an allergic reaction? The best thing to do is to call your vet. They can talk to you about the most common allergens. If that gets nowhere, your vet can also run a test to let you know what is causing your dog’s allergy symptoms.

Blocked Tear Ducts

Just because dogs don’t cry from emotional distress doesn’t mean they don’t have tear ducts. The ducts are used to help keep your dog’s eyes clean by flushing out any irritants. All dog’s tear ducts do become clogged at some point in their lives. When this happens, your dog may look weepy. Another sign of a blocked duct is that the fur around their eyes is always moist or stained.

If your dog has a blocked tear duct, try applying a warm compress. Run a rag under a warm tap to heat it up and use that to gently massage your dog’s eyes. Just be certain the towel is warm and not hot. If the blocked duct persists, be sure to set up an appointment with your vet.


Another reason your dog may be crying is because their eyes are infected. An infection is most likely if your dog doesn’t just have clear liquid coming from their eyes. If your dog’s tears are yellow or dripping with mucus, you’ll want to take them to the vet immediately.

Eye Irritation

Your dog might be crying because they simply got something in their eye. Dirt, sand, or grass are all likely culprits. The good news is that if something is in your dog’s eyes, they’ll only be crying until you get the irritant out. You can inspect your dog’s eye by gently lifting the eyelid. If you can see something, try flushing your dog’s eye with cool water or an animal eyewash.

If the problem doesn’t go away after you’ve flushed the eye, your dog may have gotten a scratched cornea from the debris. If this is the case, you’ll have to go to the vet to make sure your dog doesn’t make the problem worse by pawing at their eyes.

Other Ways Dogs Express Themselves

A dog won’t cry to show emotion, but they certainly express themselves. Take a look below at some ways that a dog shows you how they’re feeling.


Most dog owners know this move. You take a seat on the couch and your dog comes over to nudge your elbow. They’re telling you something. They’re saying, “get that arm out of the way because I need a pet.” Your dog is trying to initiate contact because they need some love.

Eye Contact

Sometimes when you look at your dog, you just know what they’re feeling. Eye contact is a very intimate act that usually denotes affection. When your dog gives you eye contact, they are saying that they trust and love you.


Does your dog jump up on your lap and give you big kisses as soon as you walk in the door? They’re just telling you that they missed you and that they are so excited you’re home. Dog licks are usually a sign that your dog really cares for you.

Rolling Over

If your dog rolls over when they see you, it can mean two things. The first can be that they are showing you that they have accepted you as the alpha in the house. They show you their most delicate part, their belly, trusting that you’ll take care of them and not hurt them. They can also be saying that they really trust and love you. After all, they might just be showing you their favorite scratch spot.

Just because a dog doesn’t cry doesn’t mean they can’t show emotion. Just like with people, dogs have a huge range of emotions and ways to express their feelings. The most important part is getting to know your dog. Eventually, you’ll be able to read them like a book.