Why Is Your Dog Crying?

Why Is Your Dog Crying?

Ellen Britt for CNT #wooftips

Most every dog owner believes that dogs can pick up on their moods. When we’re happy and energetic, our dogs tend to realize it and they run around wagging their tails. When we are blue and feeling down, they will often sit beside us or curl up for a cuddle.

We humans often cry when we are upset, especially when we are sad. But dogs don’t do this.

So why is it that many dog owners report seeing their dog’s eyes filled with tears and sometimes running down their muzzles?

Tears, in dogs and humans, are produced to keep the eyes lubricated and moist so proper vision can be maintained. Dogs, just like people, have tear ducts which are small tube-like structures that function to drain tears back to the throat and nose so they won’t spill over and run down the face. 

If these ducts become blocked or there are other problems, this can cause the tears not to drain properly and the dog will look like he’s crying.

Here are some of the most common causes of  “crying” in dogs:

Blocked tear ducts

 This can happen in one or both of the dog’s eyes. You will notice that the area around your dog’s eyes will feel damp or wet and if this has been going on for any length of time, it can cause the fur in the area to look reddish or brown. Also, your dog can develop a skin irritation from the constant dampness.


Yes, just like humans, dogs can have allergies! Everything from pollen, to dust, to smoks and even certain foods can cause your dog’s eyes to water. Sometimes it takes a bit of testing for your veterinarian to figure out the culprit.

Corneal scratch

The cornea is the transparent layer of the outer surface of the eye. Sometimes this layer can get abraded or scratched while playing with other dogs or cats, running through weeds or brush or having something hit him in the eye. The eye may look red and inflamed and the dog usually also paws at it frequently.


If your dog has discharge from his eye that is yellow in appearance instead of clear, this may be a sign of infection. The discharge can also look bloody or “mucusy” and the eye area can be swollen and irritated.

Foreign body

Occasionally, a dog might get a speck of dirt in his eye or even an eyelash. Many times this resolves on its own and the tearing will stop. If it does not resolve, a veterinary consult is in order.

Blocked tear ducts in your dog are no joke. If you observe any of these symptoms and they do not readily resolve, then you need to call your vet for an appointment.

By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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