VCA Animal Hospitals

Can dogs cry?

Published: Jul 17, 2012

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If your dog has fluid coming out of its eyes, you might assume that the animal is crying. However, it's important for pet owners to note that dogs cannot cry in the way that humans do. If a dog's eyes are discharging liquid, it is because something is wrong, not because the animal is overcome with emotion.

Just about all creatures with eyes have tear ducts of some kind, as fluid is critical to keeping the eye functioning. In dogs, these tear ducts drain the liquid back into the dog's nose and throat area. However, if this tear duct becomes blocked in some way, the tears may begin flowing out of the eyes, a sign that the animal should be taken to a veterinarian. This eye discharge is referred to as epiphora in dogs.

Epiphora is not a disease or condition in and of itself, but rather a sign of an issue with the dog's eyes. Owners can spot epiphora rather easily - the area around the dog's eyes will likely be damp due to the fluid leaking out of the eye. Prolonged epiphora may result in skin irritation around the eyes, typically resulting in reddish or brown patches of fur. If a dog's face is consistently damp, it's possible that epiphora is the cause.

There are many different causes for epiphora, which is why it's imperative that you take the dog to the vet for an official diagnosis. Corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis, abnormal eyelashes, allergies, eye infections and glaucoma in dogs can all cause issues with the tear ducts, which will in turn cause the fluid to leak from the eye. Treatment of the condition will ultimately depend on which of these issues is causing the problem.

Some breeds are at a greater risk for epiphora than others. The anatomical design of the dog's face may play a role in how the fluid stays in the eye. Dogs with "squished-in" or flat faces may experience more leakage than other dogs, especially if hair around the eyes begins to interfere, reports VCA Animal Hospitals. Typically, this type of epiphora is mild and not considered serious.

In some cases, the vet will need to intervene in order to re-open the tear ducts and allow things to function properly. The first step the vet will take is to anesthetize the animal and flush out the eyes with a special instrument. This is often enough to open up the ducts and get things working properly again. In some cases, the animal may need surgery to correct the issue.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.