Dogs are affectionate, loyal and compassionate animals that form close bonds with their families and other pets. If you have ever witnessed a dog lose a human family member or a companion, you may have noticed some strange behavior from them. They may refuse food, become disinterested in their favorite activities and constantly search for the lost friend. This brings us to the question, do dogs mourn other dogs? In this article, we will explore the heartbreaking truth behind this widely debated topic.
The Science behind Dog Mourning
Many studies have shown that dogs are capable of feeling grief and loss just like humans. In fact, dogs and humans share a similar physiological response to stress and sadness, which is evidenced by a rise in cortisol levels. According to Dr. Marc Bekoff, an animal behaviorist, mourning in dogs is a result of the same emotional bonds that humans form with their pets and loved ones. He states that dogs can feel and express their emotions to a certain extent, but they may not mourn in the same way as humans do due to their different cognitive abilities.
The Signs of Mourning in Dogs
Although dogs may not mourn in the same way as humans do, they do exhibit some signs of mourning when they lose a companion. Some of the most common signs include:
- Refusing food or water
- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Excessive sleeping
- Restlessness or pacing
- Whimpering or howling
These signs may last for a few days or several weeks, depending on the dog and the strength of their bond with the lost companion. It is important to note that some of these signs may also indicate an underlying medical condition, so it is always best to consult a veterinarian if you notice any drastic changes in your dog’s behavior.
The Importance of Acknowledging Dog Mourning
It is essential to acknowledge a dog’s mourning process as it can help them come to terms with their loss. Just like humans, dogs need time to grieve and heal after experiencing a loss. If their owner or fellow companion suddenly disappears, it can disrupt their sense of security and stability, causing anxiety and stress. By offering support, love, and understanding, pet owners can help their dogs navigate this difficult time.
How to Help a Mourning Dog
If you notice that your dog is exhibiting signs of mourning after losing a companion, there are several ways to help them cope with their loss.
Provide Comfort and Love
One of the best ways to help a mourning dog is by providing them with comfort and love. Dogs thrive on attention and affection from their owners, and this can help ease their pain and anxiety. Spend time playing, cuddling, and engaging in other activities that your dog enjoys.
Maintain a Routine
Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. Keeping a consistent daily routine can help maintain a sense of stability and security for your mourning dog. This means feeding them at the same time every day, taking them on walks, and maintaining their usual schedule.
Introduce New Companions Gradually
If your dog has lost a companion, it may be tempting to introduce a new dog into the mix to help ease their pain. However, it is important to do this gradually and with caution. Dogs can be territorial and may not take kindly to a new dog invading their space.
Consider Professional Help
If your dog is experiencing severe anxiety or depression after losing a companion, it may be worth considering professional help. A veterinarian or animal behaviorist can offer advice and support for helping your dog navigate the grieving process.
Do Dogs Understand Death?
Another widely debated topic when it comes to mourning dogs is whether they understand the concept of death. While it is impossible to know for certain what dogs comprehend, many experts believe that dogs have some level of understanding when it comes to death. Research shows that dogs can exhibit behaviors that suggest they understand that a companion has passed away. However, they may not fully grasp the finality of death like humans do.
Common Questions and Answers about Dog Mourning
- Can dogs develop depression after the loss of a companion?
- Yes, dogs can develop depression after losing a companion. It is important to keep an eye out for signs of depression and seek professional help if necessary.
- How long will it take for a dog to stop mourning?
- The mourning process can vary from dog to dog. Some may stop mourning within a few days, while others may take several weeks or even months.
- Should I get another dog to help ease my mourning dog’s pain?
- Introducing another dog after the loss of a companion can be helpful, but it should be done gradually and with caution. It is important to consult with a professional before making any decisions.
- Can dogs die of a broken heart after losing a companion?
- While rare, it is possible for a dog to die of a broken heart after losing a companion. This is known as “psychological death” and is a result of extreme stress and sadness.
In conclusion, it is clear that dogs are capable of mourning the loss of a companion. While they may not mourn in the same way as humans, dogs display a range of behaviors that indicate they are experiencing grief and sadness. As pet owners, it is essential to acknowledge and support our dogs during this difficult time by providing comfort, love, and understanding.
- Bekoff, M. (2018). Do Dogs Really Mourn Their Dead? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animal-emotions/201803/do-dogs-really-mourn-their-dead
- Selman, E. (2020). How to Help Your Dog Grieve the Loss of a Companion. American Kennel Club. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-to-help-dog-grieve-loss-companion/
- Overall, K. (2019). Understanding and Managing Grief in Dogs. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6656002/