Aheartbreaking video of a dog mourning his owner who passed away has gone viral on TikTok with over 261,000 views.
@lisa_ann_asmr Dogs grieve as much as we do. They truly are mans best friend. ❤️❤️ #doggrieving #dogmourning #mansbestfriend #labrador #labsoftiktok #petgrief #loss#mourning #grievingjourney #grievingmydad ♬ original sound – Lisa_Ann
The text on the video states that Charlie the Labrador is “mourning the loss of our dad.” Charlie can be seen standing in the lounge, howling sadly, before he walks over to an empty chair and sniffs it, apparently looking for something. Another dog can be seen sitting on top of the chair.
“He is looking for him,” commented one user, suggesting the pooch be given the scent of his departed friend—”one of his shirts”—for comfort.
Another user said, “That’s so heartbreaking, they know just as well as we do, so sorry for your loss.”
Dogs are capable of looking incredibly sad, often when you’re eating dinner and refusing to give them any, but can dogs experience complex emotions like grief?
The general consensus is, yes. According to VCA Animals Hospital: “When a dog loses a companion, two or four-legged, he grieves and reacts to the changes in his life. Dogs alter their behavior when they mourn, much like people do.” Canines can become depressed, have a reduced appetite, sleep more, move slowly, and show little interest in playing when mourning.
However, some believe that dogs do not actually grieve as humans do, and that interpreting changes in their behavior as grief is another example of some pet owners’ tendency to anthropomorphize their animals. Others argue that any change in an animal’s behavior after the death of another animal or owner can be interpreted as a reaction to a change in routine. The dog may miss playing with another animal, or they may not be used to a new ownership style.
A 2022 survey of dog owners in Italy by the University of Milan, reported that 86 percent of them saw negative changes in the behavior of a surviving dog after the death of a companion dog in the same household. Respondents found that their surviving pet sought more attention, ate less, and played less for several months.
Veterinary physiologist and lead author of the study Dr. Federica Pirrone reports that dog owners can ease their dogs’ grief by maintaining routines and staying close to them.