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How Does Your Pet Know that You're Mourning?


Grieving Process

Posted On: Feb 02, 2017

How Does Your Pet Know that You're Mourning?

Pets are comforting. That's one of the numerous reasons we keep pets—they love us, comfort us, and offer us affection when we're sad. But how does your pet know that you're sad? How does your animal know when your sadness digs more deeply and turns into grief? Science can't decide. There's ample evidence that pets, especially dogs, respond to tears, whimpers, and sobs, but no one's quite willing to come right out and say that pets know if they're owners are upset. Any pet owner already knows that this is the truth. The fact is, there are several ways your pet recognizes your feelings of depression and bereavement.

You Are Your Pet's Person

You spend a lot of time with your pet. Maybe your animal is your best friend, your closest buddy, the outlet you confess to when you need to get things off your chest. All that time spent together means that your pet knows you, too. You are the Human, bringer of food, giver of toys, scratches, blankets, cuddles, and love. You know your pet can sense any changes in your mood. Most likely, when you cry, your pet is right there beside you or in your lap. If you have a dog, he almost certainly licks away your tears.

Pets Love Unconditionally, Especially When You Need It Most

During a period of bereavement, affection and love are essential. However, you don't always want to talk to other people or deal with their feelings. You just want to spend some time on your own without being lonely. Pets fill that void perfectly, and since they know when you need them like that, you'll probably end up hugging a napping dog, a purring cat curled up in your lap, or a cooing bird perched on your shoulder. Your animal knows that you need quiet and close contact.

Pets Respond to Emotions

Finally, animals respond to emotion. If you have two dogs, you know that one runs to the other when it's hurt or upset—at least, hopefully. They do the same thing to their humans. Granted, if you're wailing, your pet might hide under the nearest piece of furniture until everything gets quiet again, but once you settle down, your pet is there for you.

Take that comfort. Grief is exhausting, sometimes isolating, and it often leaves you feeling cold and empty. Pets can and do fill that void as long as you give them the opportunity. Just as you know how your pet feels based on his expression, behavior, and sounds, your animal knows you.