LifestyleExploring canine grief: Do dogs mourn the loss of their owners?

Exploring canine grief: Do dogs mourn the loss of their owners?

Can a dog be sad?
Can a dog be sad?
Images source: © Adobe Stock

10:42 AM EST, February 9, 2024

It's not hard to find videos or images online of dogs visiting their owners' graves. Do animals truly understand the concept of their owners being gone forever? How does this realization impact them, and how can we support them in such situations? Let's delve deeper into this topic.

Can a dog feel sad?

Even though dogs can't communicate verbally, over time, they have found ways to express their feelings to their owners. Sometimes, it takes just one look at your pet to gauge their emotions. It seems that dogs are capable of feeling not just elation and light-heartedness, but also sadness.

"Our pets experience sadness just as deeply as we do," explained dog behaviour expert Lorna Winter during an interview with Newsweek.

So, how do dogs react when they lose their cherished owner? Similar to humans, animals undergo a kind of grieving process. How does it surface? Any differences in a pet's conduct should instantly ring alarm bells for us. Dogs often exhibit loss of appetite and seem uninterested in play when they are emotionally distressed; they may also become non-responsive to external stimulus, such as a ringing doorbell or their names being called.

How to help a sad dog?

If we observe sadness or grief in our dogs, it's crucial not to leave them to fend for themselves. It's worth considering what could assist them in such situations. It seems that sometimes, it doesn't take much to improve our mood or that of others - dogs included.

"Physical contact and cuddling triggers the release of oxytocin in dogs, especially if it's with someone they know and have a bond with. It's equally comforting for us, so cuddle away," Lorna Winter elaborated.

The most important thing is to make our pets feel secure and loved. There's no need to provide lavish entertainment for the dog. Simply being present and offering our complete support is sufficient.

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