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Can Animals Predict Death?

Posted October 27, 2010 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

Stories exist of nursing home pets that stay beside patients who are about to die. Horses have alerted their owners that there is a problem with a fellow herd member. It seems possible that animals could have a sixth sense – detecting information that even doctors and advanced technologies cannot.

Adopting Humans

Humans adopt animals and animals have been known to adopt other animals. Simply being around a pet has been shown to help lower blood pressure because the act of petting an animal is soothing. Other activities like caring for and walking a dog, are also beneficial. Sometimes, animals adopt humans that seem to be in need of comfort.

A Cat's Sixth Sense

Oscar, a therapy cat in a Providence, Rhode Island nursing home, has curled up next to more than 25 patients and waited with them until they passed away. Sometimes he has given the nursing home staff enough time to notify the patient's family so that loved ones can say goodbye. He usually arrives at a patient's side two-to-twelve hours before death.

How does Oscar know? Some in the medical community guess that he is smelling and sensing:

  • Chemicals that are released when someone is dying
  • Body temperature
  • Behavioral pattern of the staff

Equine Support System

Horses are herd animals, so it is no surprise that they work together in times of crisis. Over the past five years or so, the four horses my family owned were categorized as "seniors," all aged between 25 and 35.

Joe, our 35-year-old Quarter Horse, was put down after he lost the ability to stand. Herd member Bomber went to the gate to "alert" the human members of the family that there was a problem. The other horses waited with Joe and urged him to get up; they understood the importance of standing. After Joe's death, the remaining three horses stood by his body as if having a funeral. Perhaps it was to show Savvy, the pony, that he had passed away and had not been sold. (Savvy suffered from separation anxiety when Joe was missing.) After the burial, there were no problems.

The second horse to be put down was Savvy at age 30. He was suffering from equine recurrent uveitis, or "moon blindness" – a painful eye condition. When the day came for him to be put down, another herd member, Bob, whinnied at the gate until someone came outside (Bob never whinnies). Both horses waited near him and again stood by his body.

So, do you think animals can sense when death is near? Do you have a story to share?

Resources:

https://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/07/25/health/webmd/main3097899.shtml

https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6919063.stm

https://vi.sualize.us/view/0ab870d1d6782e00a89e23bd47420f0a/ (cat image)

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#1

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/27/2010 4:06 AM

When I had to have my first cat put down, I brought her home to bury her and put her in the kitchen so that my other two cats would know she was dead and not think I'd just taken her away and abandoned her. I thought this was important as all three were rescue cats, one way and another.

They were distressed - particularly the one that had lived with her in their prevvious home. There were no problems after I buried her.

When Safi went missing, his little half sister was distressed and kept asking for him and wanting me to "let him in". This went on for a few months.

On a lighter note, when I brought Safi home from his first vet visit, my older cat (the partner of the one who'd died) gave me the most disgusted look when I came back with him in the basket!

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#2

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/27/2010 4:24 AM

There are dogs which cam warn before their owner (hmmm 'owner' seems the wrong word here and 'partner' is hardly right either...) is going to have a seizure or somesuch, I can't remember the details.
So I'm sure they can sense plenty of stuff.
Del

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/27/2010 7:01 AM

Yeah, my dog does that. We have a second dog with a seizer disorder and my dog will alert us when it is going to start, but she is getting tired of doing because it happens so many times. My trainer's GSD is a certified medical alert dog for his respiratory condition.

Dogs know what you know and they know what you don't know.

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#19
In reply to #3

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

01/08/2011 8:49 PM

You had a trainer to become an AH? Milo

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#4

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/27/2010 11:42 AM

Our dog, who doesn't usually like other people, took a liking to my sister-in-law while she was recovering from breast cancer at our house. I believe they sense something.

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#5

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/27/2010 1:40 PM

I read through the resources links and the articles were saying how dogs can predict seizures within 40 minutes and can also sense cancer. I think it's amazing the connection pets have to sense things like this. There is a good example of this in the book I am currently reading "The Art of Racing in the Rain" which tells the story through the dog's eyes.

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#6

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/27/2010 11:51 PM

It is well known that animal can sense chemicals more effectively than humans can. Sick body releases more smelly chemicals due to dead skin and release of chemicals that are unwanted and come out through sweat.

Animal can also see your emotions.

I am not sure if animal can see anyone splitting into self and would be ghost.

I can smell more than 99% human being can smell and that makes me difficult to eat food that is just 30 minutes or an hour early preparation. I usually eat fresh. I can also smell sickness of others including my wife and find hard to be near when sickness becomes unwanted smell to me. I have seen animals rejecting food that is not worth for them. They uses senses for a purpose and Dogs and Pigs and know for it. Most of the animals can sense some specific chemicals with high sensitivity.

I can also smell my sickness few days ahead of it when it really becomes real one so I know there is something coming in next few days and I start taking precautions.You can call it oversensitive.

Body senses and their capabilities differ in humans, and animals both and their reaction will also differ.

Prediction on the bases of inherent knowledge may come true at times but they are not a special vision and not to be taken seriously.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/28/2010 2:54 AM

This amazing!!! you have gift from god. Is it can be developed and improved by time? How you can compare smell of sick person to his smell when he is well? Is there any relations with the so called para-physics in your case?

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#8

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/28/2010 4:53 AM

I would guess it is to do with smell. Two nurses who work with geriatric patients have told me that there is often a change in a person's smell shortly before their death. Cats and dogs have a much better sense of smell than us so would pick it up earlier.

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#9

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/28/2010 6:56 AM

My dog Micky whose pic is in my avatar, just started running out of our home before dying. I was told that before death dogs try to leave the home so that their dead body does not make mess inside the house.

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#11
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Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/28/2010 11:11 AM

Sorry for your loss. Pets have a strong bond to us.

My opinion is that the reason animals leave the pack or home when death is imminent is not because they are concerned with leaving a mess in the house, but is an instinctive survival technique to protect the pack from predators.

Predators typically start with the weak, sick or young. If an animal is sick, it makes survival for the remaining pack members worse if that animal remains with the pack. By leaving they no longer draw predators to the pack and its smaller offspring.

As much as we want to anthropomorphize onto our pets, they are still animals and are driven by their instincts first. They are always animals first.

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#15
In reply to #11

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/29/2010 7:40 AM

Hi Hero,

Thanks for your comments. Loss of pets is unbearable for whole family.They are like members of the family. My dog Pomeranian was beautiful and very good natured, she had never bitten anyone.

She had very strong smelling power, whenever she smelled some one from family has just passed the road to our home she would catch the smell and would like to rush home.

Suresh Sharma.

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#20
In reply to #11

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

07/28/2011 12:55 AM

Hero, obviously you have not lived through a lifetime of a long term pet.

Dogs communicate on several different levels with each other and whoever else they think can understand them. Yes, they have that 'pack' thing going on whenever two or more of them get together but to say they are not intelligent, thinking, scheming individuals is simply to say that you haven't tried to learn their 'language'.

They don't have any patience with teaching humans to communicate so if they sense you don't understand them, they will not try anymore to communicate with you.

I have six dogs now, and have fostered 23 other dogs in the last 3 years to good homes. All of them were distinct individuals with complex personalities and all were capable of communicating much more to me than 'I need to go outside'.

They are capable of all the emotions we as humans think are solely 'ours', from love, jealousy, humor, mischeviousness, worry, responsibility, loyalty, and friendship.

They communicate on many different levels with each other through different pitches of sounds, both high and low and most of which we cannot even hear. But they do 'talk' to each other in a kind of language that sounds like the high pitched chatter coyotes use to communicate when they are hunting together in a pack.

I even had four 10 week old puppies take off after a wild turkey over a ridgeline up in Eastern Tennessee. I jogged back down the logging road a half mile to the truck with the other 8 pups and my old dog Buck, their Father. Upon approaching the truck at the creek crossing, the lost pups came up out of the creek bed which ran down the ravine from the other side of the small mountain they had gotten lost on. Apparently, Dad had called to them somehow in a way I couldn't hear at all. I was totally amazed at this because they had to have travelled around the backside of the mountain to get to the head of the creek and follow it down to meet us at the truck.

After that, I started to pay a lot more attention to their communication abilities.

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#10

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/28/2010 8:23 AM

Maybe Oscar the cat is not sensing death but is actually bringing death; maybe this sweet little kitty is death incarnate. One more reason to be a dog person.

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#17
In reply to #10

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

11/08/2010 10:29 AM

Also, in my case, it is birds that either occasionaly come into the house or use your head as a perch, that have made their presence just prior to death of friends / family members.

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#12

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/28/2010 12:10 PM

As a dog trainer and competitor in canine sports I've been exposed to lots of research on genetics, structure, physiology, and psychology. Lots of incredible research that has helped aid in my training and bonding with my dogs. The thing, I think, most lacking in our animal research is that we are only understanding animals from human perspectives. In other words, we are evaluating our animals based upon our tool chest not theirs. Perhaps that's because, in reference to research, only the understood get grants and capture our attention. But, I believe, we are missing out on a much bigger picture.

Take my dogs for example. Human hearing is half the range of the canine. I've seen little research on why dogs need to hear up to 40,000 Hz. Why have they evolved to hear at those levels. An interesting case about lack of research is that of elephants. It was only recently that scientists discovered that elephants use subsonic frequencies to communicate over long distances. Imagine all the sounds we humans hear, then double that. I doubt animals are listening to a static hum.

My final thought on this is pretty plain. In the case of my dogs, half of their brain is dedicated to smell and hearing. Yet I, as a trainer, train my dogs using mostly the lesser functions of their brain. We are all aware of the roles canines serve in our world today. I can't imagine what else we could have them do if only we knew.

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/28/2010 1:02 PM

"In other words, we are evaluating our animals based upon our tool chest not theirs."

We do that to everything, but you are spot on about pet owners' Anthropomorphism. It's one of the biggest barriers to training dogs.

"...half of their brain is dedicated to smell and hearing. Yet I, as a trainer, train my dogs using mostly the lesser functions of their brain."

As you no doubt know, dogs have some very strong drives. They may have a lot of neuro-logic dedicated to olfactory and auditory senses, but the drives determine the animal's behavior.

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#14
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Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

10/28/2010 7:33 PM

I heard of an experiment that proved that some dogs knew when their people were going home ... no, they did not hear the car pulling in, they sensed when the owners were ready to leave for home ... ESP?/quantum energy? ... probably.

My second adopted dog grieved his dog companion in an unusual way ... he started to rest in the same spot on the stairs where the other dog used to wait for us … he started to roll on grass in the backyard and beach as the other one used to do … he tossed his bed just like his companion did after we came home … for several weeks he would not stay with us but preferred to sleep by the front door just in case he heard the first one behind ... until then he never did any those things, and they lived together for several years ... I found his behavior painful to watch because I knew that he did all that to express his desire to see his friend again ... it still brings tears to my eyes when I think of those four months how he coped with the loss of his younger buddy.

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#16

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

11/01/2010 1:21 PM

Tsk, Tsk. Science is about inquiry. And it is encouraged... except when it deals with subjects like this.

There is a "science" of spirit, whereby one can experience consciousness beyond the senses (without drugs!). Only no one is interested in pursuing it. There is a reality beyond our 5 senses. The most direct experiment is to use one's own consciousness as the "laboratory". Concentrate within and find out what the Single or Third Eye is.

But even within the realm of physical science there are plenty of experiments that indicate that "something" non-physical is operating. This is not whacko territory. Do any of you have the explanation of what medium light uses to travel through a vacuum? I'll admit I haven't been reading physics papers in the last 20 years but I don't think that mystery has been truly solved.

Dark energy? Dark matter? Please. As Shakespeare has Hamlet say, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." It's O.K. to propose fantastic solutions (or give names to things not understood) within the game of science, but not so for other inquirers?

Spend your precious time in this life looking only at what can be experienced via your physical senses and then find out in the end that it was a waste of time. Or maybe... just maybe, look at experiments that can indicate a connection between seemingly separateness in life and decide how you can either improve them and/or do them yourselves first before demeaning them and those who have at least tried to design experiments to gain some knowledge of "something" going on. To just dismiss, out of hand, the experience of people who say there is much more to life and consciousness than is dreamt of by our scientific philosophies, is close-minded.

Sorry to disagree with you Anonymous Hero. To say animals are after all just animals is based on what? Your belief. Nothing more. If we still don't really know what "consciousness" is (and I don't think science has gotten a full explanation for that) then who can we pass judgment on whether or not it exists in some form in animals or not? This is arrogance. "Something" animates matter. "Something" animates everything. Does anyone really think that something can come out of nothing?? Give me an example of it. This violates scientific understanding.

At the risk of bringing up something considered taboo in forum threads, most religious traditions around the world say spirit is what animates matter. And it has been "individualized" as part of this creation (also called a "play"). These individual extensions of the One, so to speak, have histories and these histories are played out through physical bodies. This viewpoint says that animal bodies are really no different from human bodies, as far as being "inhabitable" by spirit. The consciousness is definitely lower and duller, but is consciousness, nonetheless. Now this paragraph contains the kinds of statements that are just like scientific expressions, such as "dark matter" and "dark energy." Sounds good but where is the proof? Everyone races to investigate (how???) the scientific unknowns, but no one is interested in investigating the "spiritual" ones. If one looks for an esoteric side to Christianity, it exists. There is a tradition of "secret" knowledge in most religions that isn't given to being presented to the masses. Jesus taught his disciples in secret. What teaching was that? St. Augustine, mentions, the "Inner Light." ("If only they could behold the inner Light Eternal which, now that I had tasted it, I gnashed my teeth because I could not show it to them unless they brought me their heart in their eyes -- their roving eyes -- and said, "Who will show us any good?") There are plenty of "quotes" from different scriptures in different traditions indicating experiences of a mystical nature. This experience can be sought. There are techniques for concentrating one's consciousness within, and contacting this "Inner Light" (and Sound Principle). Just because it sounds bizarre to most westerners doesn't mean there is not something to it. The beginning of John speaking of the "Word" is not about the words printed in the Bible. Read it carefully, it can't mean that in the context in which it is mentioned. It is the primordial Light and Sound Current which has brought all into expression. Life is vibratory. Would anyone disagree with that? It is vibrating within each "man" but is ignored by him.

So, all "scientists" go on believing that physicality is all there is to life. They are content to wait until death to get the ultimate answer as to whether there is more to life than is taught in orthodox religions -- Christianity included. And believers, go on thinking that nothing can be known about non-physical reality, until death, taking everything on "faith." Neither course is very intelligent or worthy of a truly scientific mind.

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#18

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

11/24/2010 6:05 AM

Of course they can - just as humans can.

Just as everything knows when it's about to be "put down", or in the human case 'wish it was over".

It's kinda a "doctors and advanced technologies cannot" problem if they are that totally insensitive (read thick).

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#21

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

05/13/2012 2:14 PM

Certainly, animals and birds are known to have demonstrated the ability to sense an impending eathquake, tsunami or tornado, probably because they can hear or otherwise detect the associated vibrations in the earth that precede these events, so it makes sense that they can also smell biochemical changes that are associated with illnesses such as malignant cancers or that precede events such as seizures or death.

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#22

Re: Can Animals Predict Death?

01/10/2013 10:38 AM

I had seen a documentary about this cat at a nursing home.

The film was brought under scutiny by experts.

They found one thing that was connected to all the patients that past on.

And that was an electric blanket that was put on the patient who soon past on. Each picture showed that cat laying on this nice warm electric blanket.

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