Do Dogs Cry? Understanding Emotional & Physical Differences

Do Dogs Cry?

The answer to this question depends on what you mean by crying. Yes, dogs have tear ducts and they also have a wide range of emotions, but these two things are not connected. Their brains do not signal their tear ducts to produce tears in response to an emotion. In fact, we are the only species that respond to emotional stimuli by crying.

So, do dogs cry? Not in the same way we do, no. But can they empathize with our feelings? You bet they can.

A bad case of the whimpers

Dogs feel a range of emotions such as joy, disgust, and anger, although they don’t have more complex emotions like shame or guilt. While they don’t use their tears to express their sadder emotions, they do show some signs of distress.

When your dog is sad – usually in response to a change in routine or environment, or when the dog is feeling stressed and anxious – she will vocalize by whimpering and whining. These vocalizations can be accompanied by listless behavior, refusing treats, or changes in sleep habits or behavior.

Whining for attention

Whining and whimpering in response to distress is natural for a dog, but it is also a learned behavior. If you respond to your dog’s sounds of distress by showering him with treats and affection, he will learn to whine and whimper more. If your dog senses that this behavior can get him what he wants – petting, treats, cuddles – he will continue it until you break the pattern.

There’s a flip side to this as well that pet owners should be aware of. Dogs have a natural predilection to hide their pain as this behavior helps them appear less vulnerable to predators. If your dog is whining and whimpering a lot, and you’re not trying to fix the problem by giving her a treat every time she whines, she could be in pain. If this is the case, take her to your vet.

Watery eyes

If you are referring to your pet’s eyes tearing, then, yes, dogs certainly cry. If your dog’s eyes are running, most of the time it’s the dog’s body’s way of clearing dust from his eyes, just like our own tear ducts. But there could also be another reason why your dog’s eyes are watering excessively.

  • Allergies: Dogs get allergies just like we do. She could be allergic to dust, dander, food ingredients, or smoke.
  • Blocked tear duct: This can cause your dog’s eyes to be damp and irritated.
  • Infection: Check the fluid to see if it’s yellowish or bloody; these are signs of a possible infection.
  • Scratched cornea: A common ailment in active dogs, he might also paw at his eye or blink more often.

If your dog has been whimpering excessively or has leaky eyes, it may be time to take her to your animal health care professional to help you understand the causes of your dog’s behavior.


We know your dog is a cherished member of your family, so our entire team shares a commitment to provide the best, most compassionate veterinary care for your dog. We offer a variety of dog services to in the Pflugerville/Austin-Round Rock, TX area including vaccinesdental careweight managementsenior care, and more. Call (512) 251-BARK today to learn more!