What Those Tears in Your Dog’s Eyes Mean

You can be forgiven for thinking that your dog is crying when you see tears in their eyes. Dogs are many things: they are compassionate, they are sensitive, they can sense our emotions, and they are able to grieve. What they can’t do, however, is shed tears after being overcome with emotion.

Yes, tear ducts are present in dogs but they make sure the eyes continue to function as planned rather than act as an outlet for waterworks. The tear ducts of dogs works by draining rather than spilling. Liquid is taken to the throat area rather than the eyes. So if you do indeed see “tears” then there most likely is an issue with your pooch.

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What are the common causes of dog’s tears?

  1. Allergic reaction. Dogs can be allergic to lots of things. Included in the list of things that elicit an allergic reaction are dander, dust, pollen, food ingredients and smoke. A few tests can be run to determine what is causing watery eyes in your dog. In case the suspicion is related to food, your dog might have to be put on a special elimination diet to find out the culprit for the allergy.
  2. Clogged tear ducts. Epiphora is the term used for the eye discharge you see on your dog. It is caused by blocked tear ducts and results in water streaming down the eyes. This is also pretty easy to spot as the area around the eyes will be wet. When this has gone on for some time, skin irritation can develop or the fur around their eyes will have a reddish or brown tint.
  3. Infection. An infection is the probable cause when the discharge from your dog’s eyes is yellow, bloody or looks like mucous. The discharge can also be accompanied by an eye that looks swollen or irritated. If any of these signs appear, take your dog to the vet immediately.
  4. Cornea scratch. Dogs that are active are prone to a scratched cornea. Common reasons for this happening are rough play with other animals, projectiles and running through a thick bush. Signs that something is wrong include blinking a lot and pawing at eyes. Physical signs include tearing and an inflamed eye.
  5. Dirt specks. We humans tend to tear up whenever something foreign invades our eyes. The same happens with dogs. When you notice them tearing up, check for the other signs, and if there’s none then it’s most likely caused by specks of dirt. Continue to keep an eye out for your dog and if you notice more serious symptoms then don’t hesitate to take them to the vet.

When you see tears in your dog’s eyes, take them to the vet straight away so it can be looked at, assessed and treated. Yes, it may look like they are shedding some tears but it could be a sign of something more. Observe them closely and seek medical treatment if the situation gets worse.


  1. Ann & Paul
    • Robin

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