Dogs Sense Death & Sickness: The Power of Canine Comfort

Dogs Sense When People Are Dying, Sick, or Depressed

Comforting The SickTo dog lovers, it may not be a surprise that our canine friends can sense when people are sad, and they often look forward to comforting their owners. With evidence to show, our loving pups may also be blessed with a unique capability to sense when people are actually ill or are even dying. Depending on the degree, dogs tend to increase their comfort level accordingly. Even when other humans may not know another person is suffering, dogs are equipped to pick up physical or emotional ailments through subtle changes in body language, smell, and/or voice.

Increasingly, more and more studies are showing that many dogs might be able to detect disease like cancer simply by sniffing a person’s breath or urine.

Vogelsang’s Story:  Sharing Her Comforting Canine

Jessica Vogelsang, a hospice veterinarian, described several stories in her book “All Dogs Go to Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me,” where her dog helped her through many emotional times. She describes in her book how her golden retriever refused to leave her until she got the affection she needed during times like after the birth of her first child when she was dealing with postpartum depression, and when she was dealing with the mounting stress of her new veterinary career.

Just as Vogelsang finished writing her book, she learned that her mother, Patricia Marzec is suffering from fatal and an inoperable brain tumor. Shortly thereafter her parents moved in with Vogelsang for support. Vogelsang observed an immediate difference in her dog’s behavior. Instead of jumping on her parents as he always did, this time her dog Brody became more restrained and attentive. It was apparent from the behavior that her dog knew that her mom was sick. Brody assisted Vogelsang’s mother pretty much 24/7, lying next to her mom’s feet instead of her’s. Even though the dog was Vogelsang’s, Brody was sensitive to the fact that her mother needed him more than her.

A veterinary professor at Texas A&M, Bonnie Beaver, says that dogs are more sensitive to human body language than any other animal on this planet. They are quick to recognize fragile and slumped over posture, and that’s exactly how they read each other.

Dogs Comfort Elders In Nursing Homes

Many nursing homes and hospices provide comfort with dogs that provide comfort to the ailing. Nurses at nursing homes have learned through experience that many dogs change their behavior when a resident is about to pass away by choosing to sleep next to that person exclusively.

WATCH: See how dogs are truly man’s best friend!

Reader – How has your dog comforted you in a time of need? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on our FACEBOOK PAGE.


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(H/T) Pet dogs go out of their way to comfort humans they sense are sick or depressed