Are dogs aware of death?

Death is a painful event feared by all: no one, in fact, is really prepared for the permanent loss of a loved one. Even dogs, in their own way, are capable of expressing their suffering in the face of such a difficult situation.

Have you ever wondered if dogs are aware of death? What does science say about it?

Death represents an uncomfortable but inevitable subject, because if there is one aspect that unites all living beings on the planet it is precisely the fact that, sooner or later, all of us are forced to face this event.

If there is a specific “curse” of the human being, it is the fact that we are the only living beings who can clearly understand that their life is destined to come to an end. An awareness whose presence, until now, has not been proven in other animals.

For this reason, existentialism and other philosophical questions represent aspects that are reserved solely for human thought. But are dogs aware of death? How do these animals react to the loss of a loved one?

If you want to know more about this sad but interesting topic, we recommend that you continue reading this article.

The end of life

Death is defined as “ the cessation of vital functions in humans, animals and any other living organism or constituent element of it”.

From a biological point of view, we can say that dying is the final effect that comes from the extinction of the homeostatic process (in other words, the ability to maintain an internal balance) in a living being, which involves the end of life.

Unfortunately, death goes far beyond a simple cellular imbalance. The lack of a loved one, for those destined to remain, turns into a feeling of emptiness, pain, a sense of unreality and a lack of acceptance towards the absence of someone who was previously part of our life and now is not there. ‘it’s more.

As unpleasant as it may be, we must come to terms with the fact that we humans are not prepared to understand death as a whole.

But what happens to dogs? Are dogs aware of death? Do they miss a loved one when it disappears? In the following lines we show you the answer offered by the scientific evidence available today.

Are dogs aware of death?

We cannot give an absolutely certain answer to this question. Empirically proving that a dog understands death is complex to say the least. What scientific studies have allowed us to discover, however, is that dogs suffer from the loss ( mourning , in English) of a loved one.

In 1996, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( ASPCA ) conducted a study addressing this issue .

To achieve this, various emotional states presented by dogs that had experienced the loss of a canine companion were observed . The results were as follows:

  • 36% of dogs experienced significant loss of appetite after the accompanying dog died.
  • 11% of them refused to eat, under any circumstances.
  • 63% of dogs exhibited variations in their vocalization. Some howled a lot more, while others were quieter.
  • Some dogs slept more, while others suffered from insomnia. Many dogs have chosen to change their resting place following the death of their companion.
  • Dogs that survived the death of their partner generally showed a much greater need for affection from their guardians.

This study showed that 66% of the dogs observed had four or more behavioral changes associated with the death of a loved one. As a result, even if we don’t know if dogs are aware of death or not, it is still clear that they suffer the consequences of the loss.

What happens when the guardian dies?

Other sources report that, in addition to suffering from the loss of another dog, these animals can get really sick when their guardian is missing . It is estimated that around two out of three dogs exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety when their owner disappears. Among the most common symptoms we can list the following:

  • Loss of energy and lack of interest in stimulating games and activities .
  • Increased time spent resting and decreased social interactions with other family members.
  • Weight loss and anorexia.

As we can see, the pain symptoms that arise following the loss of the brace are very similar to those caused by the death of another canine companion.

Some dogs are able to overcome this traumatic event and form new bonds with other individuals. Others, however, may need professional help to overcome their depression.

Natural pain

As we have seen from reading this article, even if we do not have real evidence that can prove that dogs are aware of death, it is still evident that they are able to perceive its effects.

For this reason, in the event of the loss of one of the pets in the house, it is the duty of the guardian to offer the dog even more affection, spend more time with him and guarantee him an even more stimulating environment, in his absence.

Death, in general, is an uncomfortable subject for everyone and is a natural and at the same time inconceivable process for most people.

What is really important is to always understand clearly that pain leaves room for memory and that the loved one will always remain in the memory of those who loved him in the past .