Dogs cry with joy when reunited with their owners

Happy dog and owner

Dogs sometimes produce tears when they are very happy, researchers have found.

The study in Japan looked at the reactions of dogs who were reunited with their owners and with other people they knew.

Researchers placed strips of paper under the eyes of the dogs during normal interaction with their owners and just before they were reunited with them after being separated for five to seven hours.

They found that tear volume went up most when the dogs got back together with their owners.

child and a boy

To see whether the tears were linked to their emotions, the researchers also applied a solution containing oxytocin, a key hormone involved in bonding, to the dogs. This led to a significant increase in the dogs’ tears — supporting the idea that the release of oxytocin plays a role in tear production when dogs and their people get back together.

While dogs were already known to shed tears to keep their tear ducts clean, this is the first time it has been linked to their emotional response.

The researchers believe that dogs’ tears during reunions with their owners can help to forge stronger connections between people and their dogs.

When people were asked to rate pictures of dogs with and without artificial tears in their eyes, there were more positive responses to the dogs with teary eyes.

Reporting their findings in the journal Current Biology, the researchers said: “Their tears might play a role in eliciting protective behaviour or nurturing behaviour from their owners, resulting in the deepening of mutual relationships and further leading to interspecies bonding.”

Help give your four-legged friend the care they deserve with dog insurance from Purely Pets. We offer cover for vets bills for accidents, illness or both up to a fixed monetary amount, with an easy online claims process and payments made direct to your vet.

Pet Insurance Quote

  • 98% claims paid *
  • Claims paid directly to vets
  • 24/7 vet video consultations
  • Interest free monthly payments