What do animals think about death and dying?

What do animals think about death and dying. Dog sleeping.

As humans we have the ability to project into the future and imagine what might happen. Often we make things out to be much worse than the turn out to be.

Animals do not have this ability. They live in the moment 100%. Give a dog a choice between a £20 note or a small piece of juicy steak, they will choose the steak every time because that satisfies their immediate desires. They don’t have a cognitive reasoning that says if they take the £20 note they can go and buy more steak. Ask a human – I am pretty sure the vast majority would take the cash.

Humans worry about disease, pain and old age. Animals accept whatever is happening in their lives as being as it is meant to be. They adapt to pain and disease and despite pain, they are conditioned to follow their natural instincts so will carry on trying to run or chase that ball even when they are in severe pain and discomfort. By the time they are physically not able to do these things, the situation is probably way beyond the pain we are seeing as owners.

Companion animals do not have any concept of death or dying. They don’t fear it in the same way humans tend to do. Our pets feel the effects of ageing, the slowing down, the aches and pains that develop over time or the symptoms of illness or injury.

Some wild animals such as elephants appear to mourn when one of their number dies but this is seen less in companion animals, even those who have lived together for years.

With this in mind, I found it helpful not to think about euthanasia being about ending the life of my pets but instead releasing them from suffering and pain once it got to the point that it could no longer be managed or controlled.

“Death is a release from and an end of all pains: beyond it our sufferings cannot extend: it restores us to the peaceful rest in which we lay before we were born.” Seneca the Younger