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Unbroken's avatar

Can all animals figure out when another being is sick or weak?

Asked by Unbroken (10733points) May 22nd, 2014
13 responses
“Great Question” (0points)

I am watching a dog and I noticed this dog is being much more gentle then she would normally be.

Yesterday I threw up only once. I had showered. I don’t think I was running much of a fever. But this large breed dog reigned in her normal gregarious self and stayed by me loyally.

Typically when I visit her she is jumping up and ready tug my arm off during games of tug of war. She is generally well behaved but will wait until the second command or after you stand there waiting for her compliance for a minute to do so.

I was especially astonished when she instantly obeyed every command even when she was outside which is generally more of a will power struggle.

More then that she baby sat me, stayed by my side to…. I don’t know what her reasoning was but she did and most of the time it was really sweet.

What did she pick up on? I am certain it isn’t my imagination. So how did she know I wasn’t feeling well and that I needed her to be nice. Why did she comply?

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Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Absolutely some dogs can tell. I suspect it is changed mannerisms or odors but have no data to offer.
Here is a great article about Seizure Alert Dogs in National Geographic. Nobody knows how they can tell when the seizure is about to begin, but they do.
Amazing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Either the question changed or I missed it but your Q asks if all animals can do it. I doubt it. Maybe that skill is reserved for predators. In the wild many of them survive by going after the sick or weak prey animals.
There are plenty of videos that show birds pretending to have injured wings so they can lure predators away from their nests.

kritiper's avatar

Hard to tell but I would say no. Dogs are pack animals and you may have somehow shown the dog that you are the Alpha in the pack and therefore more of an aggressive, leader type.
Animals respond to instinct, hunger, thirst, etc., as their sole (singular) subconscious mind reacts. They do not “think” or reason like we do with our dual minds, since we have conscious (thinking) minds as well as subconscious (reactive/instinctive) minds.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That makes sense that it would be more refined of an instinct in predators. There was that nursing home cat that predicted deaths. I saw it personally in my dogs. My s/o lost her mother to breast cancer. The next Mother’s Day I was working outside and I looked back and she was sitting on the steps crying her eyes out. I opened my dogs gate to their pen and they completely ignored me and ran to her. They spent a lot of time with her. That wasn’t their normal pattern.

wildpotato's avatar

Hard to say. I think many animals do, for sure. My cats barely tolerate each other normally, but recently my old lady cat has started having seizures and the other cat will sit or lay by her as she’s recuperating and lick her face. This is pretty unusual behavior for him.

Unbroken's avatar

Wow those are very nice stories. It does.make.sense that predators can pick up on something more then other animals.

The dog isn’t mine. But she knows me and responds well to me. I was probably less alpha yesterday then today and today she’s back to normal.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I know that my cat is more attentive to me when I am sick. Usually he is rather aloof.

Unbroken's avatar

What a nice cat @Skaggfacemutt my cat didn’t seem to notice.

Blondesjon's avatar

If it was a predator instinct wouldn’t the opposite reaction occur?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah. We had a hyperactive Lab/German shorthair mix. That dog ran circles around her self constantly….unless my mother was here. Mom suffered from dementia and was very sad most of the time. The dog would jump on the couch and lay her head in my Mom’s lap, and stay there, still and quiet, for hours. We marveled.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Your cat is just checking to see if you’re well enough to feed him yet!

Unbroken's avatar

My best guess @Blondsjon was that the ability was born when they were predators, but since they have been domesticated so long that talent is repurposed to fit their new role?

What a sweet story @Dutchess_III

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Dutchess_III Ha-ha! You are probably right!

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