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When losing a loved one, humans grieve – so do birds, apes, elephants and dolphins.
Recently, scientists discovered that dogs, too, mourn the loss of a canine friend, the Guardian reported.
In a study in Italy, researcher Federica Pirrone and her team analyzed the responses of more than 400 adults who completed a “mourning dog questionnaire” online to understand how pooches experience grief.
All the participants had experienced the loss of one of their dogs while at least one other dog was still alive. The results showed that 86 percent of the respondents said their surviving canines had displayed changes in behavior after the death of their canine companion.
These changes included sleeping more, less eating and seeking more of the owner’s attention. The research team noted that these changes were not connected to the amount of time the dogs lived together or whether the surviving animal saw the other’s corpse.
They noted, however, that the changes were more noticeable when the late dog was a friend of the surviving animal, their parent or offspring.
The authors suggested that a number of factors were at play, including disrupted shared behaviors between the animals.
Pirrone added that the findings cannot necessarily be described as grief in dogs but said they reveal an aspect of canine behavior that has been somewhat overlooked.
“Dogs are highly emotional animals who develop very close bonds with the members of the familiar group,” she said. “This means that they may be highly distressed if one of them dies and efforts should be made to help them cope with this distress.”