, April 24, 2024

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Do Dogs Cry?

  •   4 min reads
Do Dogs Cry?

When we, humans, are overcome with emotion, we shed tears. We may feel sad or happy or even fearful, as long as the emotion is a bit intense for us to not be able to hold back the waterworks display. However, these emotion-driven tears may not be fully exclusive to human experience.

Have you ever gazed at your dog’s eyes as she is being punished, when she is weak or sick, or as she watch you leave for work for the day? You know that dogs can definitely feel sad. And they certainly express it.

A recent (Japanese) study even reveals that when dogs are reunited with their owners after being separated, they might shed happy tears, as noted in the journal Current Biology(https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(22)01132-0).

A man, who looks sad, appears to be trying to get some sympathy from his dog by holding his face close to his. His dog seems to feel his sadness, too. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

Do dogs, on the other hand, cry?

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) article “Do Dogs Cry? New Study Shows Dog Tears Facilitate Canine-Human Bond” by Carly Silver, dogs develop tight emotional relationships with their owners, having great social intelligence and displaying human-like emotions.

Silver said when pets rejoin with owners from whom they have been separated for a length of time, they exhibit “affiliative behavior,” which is defined as activities that another organism finds fulfilling or as agreeable conduct that aids in the formation of a social bond between two parties.

Other studies have revealed that the dogs experience the release of oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” during these moments. And it is during these moments that we see the dogs’ eyes well up.

Proving the theory

To put the theory to the test, the researchers isolated the puppies from their owners for many hours before reuniting them. Five to seven minutes after their reunion, the scientists gave the dogs a Schirmer tear test to see how watery their eyes had gotten. They then compared the results to tear production when the dogs were similarly removed from and subsequently reunited with someone they knew but who was not their owner. When the animals were reunited with their owners, their eyes welled up with tears—significantly more so than when they were reunited with their human acquaintance.

To investigate if oxytocin may be causing an increase in tear production, scientists applied an oxytocin solution to the dogs’ eyes. As predicted, oxytocin treatment greatly increased tear volume, but a control solution containing another peptide derived from the identical amino acids did not.

A Labrador puppy has such a sad expression on his face and looks as though he is about to cry. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

However, Silver pointed out that no mention was made of the dogs’ breeds and how this may have influenced the study. Shih Tzus, for example, have more prominent eyes, which may distort the results. While both male and female animals release oxytocin in stressful conditions, females secrete more than males, which may have lopsided the results.

Do dogs cry from emotions?

Dogs experience sadness for many of the same reasons that humans do, such as pain, loneliness, loss, and bereavement. While most doggie melancholy is fleeting, others can be profound and long-lasting. For example, there have been verifiable reports of mourning dogs that have waited faithfully beside gravesites or their traditional meeting areas day in and day out, hoping for their departed person to return, such as the story of “Hachikko” (of Japan). There are several ways for pets to communicate “I love you” to their owners.

Your dog’s compassion for you might also be a cause of unhappiness. When their person (human) is unhappy, a dog will frequently display melancholy as well, even if they do not understand why.

A pug has tears rolling down from his eyes. (Photo n from iStock royalty-free images.)

Dogs are more emotionally sophisticated than we give them credit for, especially when it comes to interpreting their owners’ emotions. So, while dogs cannot communicate or think about melancholy in the same complicated way that people can, they undoubtedly comprehend and feel far more than we may know.

Dogs can cry like humans, but not in the same way that we do. Dogs have their own unique ways of expressing melancholy and happiness.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist. She has been a solo parent for 16 years now because she is wife to a desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.

This article also appears in the Manila Standard

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