Can our pets see ghosts?

can dogs and cats see ghosts?
Can our pets see ghosts? © Pezibear. Pixabay

Has your pet been acting a bit strange? Have you found them staring down a dark hallway with a nervous look in their eyes? Is there a certain room that they refuse to enter, no matter how many treats you lay down? If so, they might have seen a ghost. Or at least that’s what some people might say.

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Can our pets see ghosts?

Karen Anderson is a psychic, medium, and “animal communicator” from Washington, USA. She’s convinced that some of our pets are regularly in contact with the paranormal. She also claims to have a telepathic connection with dogs and cats. Talking to Chewy.com, Karen said: “Dogs can absolutely see spirits. It can be a human, another animal, sometimes non-human, like angelic energies that are all around. But, just like humans, some pets are very tuned in and more sensitive, and others don’t have a clue. Every animal is different.”

According to Karen, pets who are more attuned to these stranger things use their special senses to see beyond the material world: Dogs can see the spirits with their eyes because they have the ability to see things that we can’t,” said Karen. “And they can hear things we can’t, so they can pick up the energy that way, too.

But can Karen produce any empirical evidence to back up her wonderful claims? In a word, no. But others have tried investigating these doggy superpowers.

The scientific approach

Rupert Sheldrake is an English academic and a former fellow at Clare College, Cambridge University. Way back in 1999 he published a book called Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: The Strange Power of Animals. It recorded a group of experiments carried out by Sheldrake in 1990s and references over a 1,000 case histories that point to some kind of telepathic ability in dogs. In a series of tests, a dog called Jaytee spent far more time waiting by the window when her owner was on the way home. Like any good scientist, Sheldrake repeated the experiment over and over again, using different vehicles and randomly selected return times to prove that it wasn’t just down to routine or habit. 

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Other research suggests that dogs may be able to see the earths magnetic field. Known as magnetoreception, the ability to “see” magnetic fields is powered by a molecule called cryptochrome, and it has recently been found in dog’s eyes. Scientists also describe cryptochrome as the sixth sense molecule, and it’s used by migrating birds travelling thousands of miles across the earth.

Of course, this doesn’t prove any of Karen’s “theories.” But if we know that our dogs can see magnetic fields and read our minds, who knows what else they can see and feel. Ghosts? Ghouls? Spirits from another dimension?

It’s easy to dismiss talk of ghosts and ghouls, but remember, no one has proved that they don’t exist. Our short history of scientific knowledge has shown that the world is much stranger than we can ever realise, and who knows what’s lurking beyond the borders of human perception. Until our dogs learn to speak (or until we learn to bark properly), we’ll never really know what our pets may or may not be seeing.

Who really knows what our pets can see?

Even the experts aren’t really sure. Dr Jordan F. Slavik is a professor of philosophy, and I’ll let him have the few last words:

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The most honest scientific answer to whether or not dogs can sense the paranormal is that we simply don’t know,” he says. “Much like ghosts or spirits themselves, science can neither completely prove or disprove such a claim—at least not yet.

Read also: How did the superstitions about black cats all start?

Ashley is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. When he's not writing, he enjoys reading, martial arts and meditation. Unfortunately he doesn't have the space or the time to own a dog, so he volunteers as as dog buddy, which basically means he'a a dog babysitter. He walks them, feeds them, and generally just chill out with them. It's awesome.