Dogs quickly become family members. The longer you know them, the more it seems like they go through complex emotions — joy, excitement, anger, and sadness — like people. It can thus be difficult to know how yours is feeling.
It is very important to track your dog’s emotions to provide them with a happy life and stay atop potential health issues, though. It can be heartbreaking to see them suddenly become less playful or interactive, which could indicate anxiety, depression, or a health problem a veterinarian might need to address. Tears represent one response that never means sadness, however.
There are several physical reasons your pup might “cry.” This guide will explain what you need to know about why tears happen, including what you can do about it.
How to Tell What Your Dog is Feeling
Dogs can’t use words to tell their owners when they are sad or depressed, but there are signs you can look for when determining their mood. If yours is stressed or upset, for example, you might notice them:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Becoming passive and quiet for no reason
- Becoming frantic and excited
- Striving to keep their body low to the ground
- Vocalizing through howling, whimpering, or whining
Ultimately, your dog’s body language is the best way to determine how they are feeling. Responding to stress or anger cues early may help prevent aggressive behavior and result in a happier home life for you both.
Why Dogs Tear Up
Your dog might do any of the above when upset, but crying is not typically a sign of canine distress. Humans are actually the only animals that cry in response to emotional states. You might see tears in dogs, but this is likely caused by a physical health reason such as:
- A blocked tear duct
- The beginnings of an infection
- Allergy issues (prevalent in spring)
- Scratching or damage to the surface of the eye
It is best to watch your pup closely over the following day or so after noticing tears. If they don’t go aw
ay, it might be time to consult a veterinarian to explore a deeper issue.
5 Ways to Help Your Dog If You See Tears
There are some home remedies you can try to clear out basic irritants and alleviate short-term discomfort. If you’ve noticed tears:
Clean the area around your dog’s eye.
Moisten a damp washcloth and wipe the area around the eyes. The idea is to remove built-up allergens like pollen or dust as you would if such materials got in your own. If your dog’s eyes seem clear once you have wiped them, they could be sensitive to allergens or have a blocked duct. Repeat this process on a regular basis, watching carefully to see if the discharge turns colors or increases in volume.
Watch for redness or pus.
While clear discharge is usually not a cause for concern, tears tinged with blood or pus could indicate a serious problem. If you notice either, book an appointment with your vet right away to head off major problems that could affect your pet’s eyesight. Pus could be a sign of an infection, which can go south in short order.
Try holistic remedies.
If your pet hasn’t had a history with blocked ducts or poor drainage, you might want to consider some natural options. There are several products in pet stores or found around your home that could help with tear overproduction, including natural witch hazel pads or cotton balls soaked in black tea. Your vet might also offer recommendations.
Consider environmental factors.
If your dog experiences recurring problems with tears and discharge, but doesn’t have an infection or scratches, you may want to consider changing environmental elements. Dogs can develop food intolerances that create reactions, for example, and detergents, household fragrances, and other like-items can cause allergic responses. Try changing foods and incorporating natural grooming wipes into your pet’s routine. You may notice a difference in the way your dog looks and acts.
Head to the vet if you see anything serious.
Discharge will often clear up on its own, especially if it is related to allergies. If it gets worse or your dog is doing a lot of itching, however, it might be time to reach out to your vet. A professional will be able to determine if your pet needs prescription eye drops or a specialized ointment to solve the issue.
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