Dogs and “emotional” needs: They suffer when they lose a 4-legged mate

It is not how they know how to arouse, they feel the emotions themselves. For those lucky enough to live with a dog, there is no doubt that four-legged friends have a soul. And now there are scientific studies that confirm how dogs respond to special reactions and emotional needs. And they may even mourn the loss of another dog living with them. Stefania Ucheddur, a 37-year-old veterinarian from Cagliari and head of the Behavioral Medicine Service at the Padua San Marco Veterinary Clinic, came to this conclusion through research. A complex work that lasted for many years, published a few days ago by Scientific Report (Nature), one of the oldest and most important scientific journals of existence.

With an international team of veterinarians and psychologists, Stefania Uchedu began with a simple question: Can dogs survive grief? He explained, “We thought about how dogs can feel when they share a part of their life with dying.” Further research will allow us to better understand what will happen in the moment of loss, but in terms of well-being, we cannot ignore the dog’s emotional needs. ”

I study

Mourning behaviors have been reported among various animals, includingThere are birds and elephants but until now it was unclear whether domestic dogs could actually mourn. Although some behavioral changes shown after the death of the other four legs of the same family may be an indication of pain and distress. Stefania Ucheddu and other colleagues interviewed 426 adults whose dog died when they had at least 4 more legs. Owners (more than a year before the study lost 66 percent of the animals) were asked about any changes in dog behavior after death. Eighty-six percent of owners observed negative changes, with 32 percent of cases lasting two to six months, 25 percent even more than six months. But how did this pain manifest? Sixty-seven percent of owners observed survival animals trying to pay more attention, while in 57 percent of cases dogs almost lost the urge to play and in 46 percent of cases they became less active. Other owners noted that the dog slept more and was easily frightened, others that he ate less eventually noticed an increase in barking or barking. Before losing their pets, 93 percent of owners reported that their dogs had lived together for more than a year, and 69 described the 4-legged relationship as friendly. “It was found that the two dogs did not affect the behavior of the survivors when they were together, were more likely to have negative behavioral changes when they had a friendly relationship with the dead dog and with the grieving owner.” The researchers then speculated that the negative behavioral changes and sensitive patterns observed in surviving dogs may have caused pain-like reactions, both in response to the loss of a mate and in response to their owners’ distress. “Pain-like reactions represent a potential pet welfare problem that is still neglected,” the researchers concluded.

Stefania Ucheddu, 37, (pictured)

Stefania Ucheddu, 37, (pictured)

Stefania Ucheddu has mourned the loss of her 4-legged friend in the past. The first results, published in the scientific journal Animals, confirm the tendency to humanize pets, equating them with human beings in terms of emotions, needs and legal rights. Psychological effects are such that, after his death, a negative outlook on life takes hold in the person, consisting of guilt, pain, anger, intrusive thoughts and feelings of remorse. With some differences regarding the gender and age of the owner. Women respond more strongly to grief than men, but this may only reflect a greater tendency to grieve. Younger owners, on the other hand, feel more easily offended when a dog dies. This may be due to less experience which may give them a less realistic idea of ​​the situation and may suggest that, perhaps, they could have done more to save him. “When death comes unexpectedly, anger and guilt become more intense and deep, a sign that the owner does not have time to be psychologically prepared or get adequate support from the veterinarian.”

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