Dogs feel heartbreak: Study finds pooches get sad when they lose a friend

DOGS feel grief similar to humans when a dog in the same household dies, according to new scientific research.


Dogs feel grief similar to humans when their close canine friends die (Image: Getty) Sign up for FREE for latest news plus tips to save money and the environment Invalid email

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The grieving animals experience similar symptoms of grief that humans do such as losing their appetite, becoming more fearful and less active.

Grief in other animals such as elephants has been recognised before but there has been little evidence to support this until now.

For a dog who loves to tear apart stuffed animals, make a durable activity ball with a Hol-ee rubber ball, scraps of fabric, and treats.

New research by scientists at the University of Milan in Italy, has shown that man's best friend could be more sensitive than people think.The study, which has been published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, shows that grieving dogs go off their food, become more fearful, seek attention, play less and become less active.

The scientists said one in four cases of grief persist for longer than six months after another household pet dies.

dogs playing

Research shows dogs refuse food, become less active and are more needy when grieving (Image: Getty)Dr Federica Pirrone, one of the study's authors, said: "Dog owners reported several statistically significant changes in the surviving dog after the death of the companion dog, both in terms of activities and emotions.

Socialize your pet. This is especially important for puppies. Again – behavior problems are the number one reason dogs don’t stay with their families and don’t get adopted by new families. Lack of proper socialization can result in inappropriate fears, aggressive behavior, general timidity, and a host of other behavior problems that are difficult to extinguish once a dog is mature.

"This is potentially a major welfare issue that has been overlooked, considering the relatively high number of dogs who live with at least another companion dog and the dog ageing population."

A survey was carried out in Italy on 426 owners who had recently lost a pet dog while they also owned another. The study was to find out the emotional effects shown by their remaining pooch.

Owners were asked whether they had noticed any changes in the surviving dog’s behaviour since the death of their companion.

Apply house rules consistently. When your pet knows what to expect from his behavior, he will be much more inclined to do more of what you approve of and less of what you don’t.

READ MORE: Retired RAF sniffer dog scoops animal equivalent of Victoria Cross

sad dog

In 86 percent of cases owners noticed negative changes in their remaining dog after one died (Image: Getty)Dr Pirrone said: "The survey was published on the internet and social networks like Facebook targeting Italian participants who were older than 18 years and had experienced the death of a dog."

In 86 percent of cases owners noticed negative changes, with two-thirds (67 percent) reporting they became more desperate for attention.

More than half (57 percent) said their remaining dog played less, while 46 per cent said they became less active.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: A study at UCSD claims that your dog can genuinely get jealous when they see you display affection for another creature.

A significant portion (35 percent) of participants found their canine companion spent more time sleeping and seemed more fearful than they had before the other dog had died.

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New research suggests dogs grieve similar to humans (Image: Getty)

Increased barking and whining was another symptom of dog grief, as well as refusing food more regularly and eating less.

Surprisingly, the researchers found the length of time the dogs had lived together didn't influence how strongly the grief was felt by the remaining pup.

Use Covers to Keep Your Furniture Fur Free. Do you allow your pets on the furniture? If you do you’re well aware of how hard is to keep them clean. My favorite tip for keeping your furniture clean and fur free is to use a cover. You can use sheets, blankets or slip covers — and if you want something to match your decor you can get them custom made. When it’s cleaning time you just throw those covers in the wash & you’re good to go.

The findings of the study also concluded that negative behaviours displayed by dogs were heightened when their owner's grief was strong.

Dr Pirrone said: "The understanding of behavioural patterns after loss in non-human animals can be helpful in recognising these animals’ emotional needs".

However, she said even though the results are valuable they still can't definitely "confirm it was grief", and admitted, "more research is clearly needed".

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Source: Psychology Today