Dogs ‘feel grief and mourn when other pets die’ - and it can last for years
The behavioural changes were found to last for anywhere from a few months to a number of years
A study of hundreds of pet owners who owned at least two dogs has found that the death of one of the pets can affect the other, with the surviving dog displaying signs of grief and mourning.
The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports and was conducted by surveying 426 Italian dog owners.
Almost 90 per cent of participants reported a change in the surviving dog's behaviour.
"We were able to split the emotional response from the behavioural response," said one of the researchers.
Researchers found that the main factor was the "quality of the bond between the two dogs."
The study also found that the length of time the dogs had spent together didn't seem to be a huge factor in affecting the behaviour of the surviving dog.
Behavioural and emotional changes exhibited by dogs after the death of another dog in the same household could be indicative of grief, according to a survey published in @SciReports. https://t.co/sXz1o4Q0OW pic.twitter.com/pCGhDECP6h
— Nature Portfolio (@NaturePortfolio) February 25, 2022
The dog owners often found that the surviving dog changed both in terms of activity and emotion, noting differences in sleeping and eating habits as well.
Almost half (46 per cent) of the dogs in the study showed reduced levels of activity, with 35 per cent sleeping more.
Over a third (32 per cent) started eating less after the death of their fellow canine.
Behaviour such as increased attention-seeking was also reported.
The study found that the mind of a dog is "equivalent to that of a child between two and three years of age."
In some cases, the behavioural changes lasted for a few months but in others they could carry on for years.
Whilst the quality of the bond between owner and dog did not seem to affect the results, researchers found that the behaviour of the owner after the death could affect the surviving dog.
For example, if the owner exhibited more anger, depression, or trauma, the surviving dog acted more fearful.
Researchers advised that owners "ensure there’s predictability in their days and continue to share activities with them," to help the surviving dog through the grieving process.
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