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With such strong connections to our canine companions, it’s no surprise that we’re sensitive to their moods. Whether it’s the cute canine smile of a dog that’s being pet or the sad look when they realize they don’t get to come with us for the day, it’s clear that dogs have powerful emotions.
But can dogs cry in order to show sadness?
Dogs don’t cry or shed tears the way that humans do. In fact, humans are the only animals that actually cry which is something that still puzzles scientists to this day. Many animals, including dogs, will vocalize sadness in their own way but only humans produce tears along with it.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s going here.
Can Dogs Feel Sadness?
Dogs may not experience sadness in the same way that we do but it’s such a subjective feeling to begin with that it’s difficult to say for sure. Comparing sadness between people is difficult let alone comparing it across different species!
However, we do know that dogs experience some kind of negative emotion that’s at least similar or closely related to sadness.
But it can sometimes be difficult to tell it apart from other negative emotions like anxiety.
What Makes a Dog Feel Sad?
Dogs can feel sad for a variety of reasons and individual canines may be more or less prone to sad or negative feelings.
As deeply social creatures, dogs can feel sad after any major change to their social structure and routines. That could be the addition or loss of a family or another pet.
Again, related to their social nature, too much time alone without chances to socialize could cause sadness.
Then there’s the quality of social interactions and if the only time dogs spend with humans is generally negative or revolves around punishments then dogs may become sad. Even it might seem natural to connect the two, there’s no connection between canine tears and sadness. Humans are the only animals that shed tears as part of being sad.
How Do Dogs Show Their Sadness?
Dogs that are sad may sleep more and be overall more withdrawn than usual. That could mean a decreased interest in playing, eating, or interacting with humans.
Dogs that are sad usually have a noticeable decrease in overall energy and general excitement.
When Are Dog Tears Worth a Vet Visit?
Similar to humans, tears and tear ducts help keep a dog’s eye healthy, lubricated, and functioning.
That means some tears are considered normal for most dogs.
Many brachycephalic breeds like pugs, Shih-Tzus and English Bulldogs may have slightly higher tear production due to their shorter and compressed bone structure.
Breeds that are white, like Maltese and Poodles, may show more tear staining than others since their white coat provides high contrast.
It’s important to understand what’s normal for your dog and if you’re seeing an increase in tears then it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian. Even more so if you’re seeing any kind of discharge around the eye or other respiratory symptoms along with the tears.
Excess tear production could be related to anything from a scratched cornea to seasonal allergies but your veterinarian can help you figure out what’s going on.