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At some point you may have looked down at your dog and noticed watery eyes. It’s easy to assume that the dog is crying, but those tears are actually caused by something other than emotions.

We know that dogs can sense our emotions, and we know they are capable of grief, but can they cry real, emotional tears?

Dogs are compassionate and sensitive animals. When we’re happy, there they are to wag their tails and share the joy. When we’re feeling blue, there they are to offer a warm cuddle and share the sadness. They are our friends, through and through.

But, while humans can cry for emotional reasons, dogs cannot. So what exactly are they doing instead of being overcome with emotion?

Like humans, dogs have tear ducts to help keep their eyes functioning properly. However, a dog’s tear ducts drain the liquid back towards the throat and nose area instead of spilling out. So if a dog looks like he’s crying, there might be something wrong that you need to get checked out by a veterinarian.

Here are some common causes of tears in dogs:

Allergies
Just like with humans, allergies can cause a dog’s eyes to water. Dogs can be allergic to a number of things, including pollen, dust, dander, smoke, or food ingredients. A vet may have to run a few tests or put the dog on a special elimination diet to figure out the cause of the allergic reaction.

Blocked tear ducts
If a dog’s tear ducts get blocked, then tears may start flowing from your dog’s eyes. This eye discharge is called epiphora. You will know your dog has epiphora because the area around your dog’s eyes will be damp. If it’s been going on for a while, your dog may develop skin irritation or have brown or reddish fur around their eyes. Seek veterinary attention when you first notice symptoms.

Infection
If the dog’s tears are yellow, mucusy, or bloody instead of clear, it may be a sign that your dog has an eye infection. Other symptoms could be a swollen or irritated eye area. If your dog is displaying these signs, something may be seriously wrong, and you should go to a vet and get medical treatment.

Scratched cornea
If your dog is an active dog, then he may be susceptible to a scratched cornea. Rough play with dogs or cats, running through thick brush, and projectiles in the area can be causes of a scratched cornea. Besides tearing, a dog may paw at his eye, blink a lot, or have an inflamed eye area. Take your dog to the vet if he shows any signs of having a scratched cornea.

Speck of dirt
Sometimes, if your dog is tearing up, it just means he has a speck of dirt or an eyelash in his eye. If this is the case, the tears should stop soon. However, make sure to watch your dog for prolonged or more serious symptoms, and bring your dog to the vet if necessary.

Even though it might look like dogs cry tears, it’s usually just an indication that there is something wrong. Instead of handing your dog a tissue, make sure you watch her closely, and seek medical treatment, it may be something serious.

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