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Do animals have feelings and emotions?

Do animals have emotions, feelings and sense of pain?

Have you just wondered whether animals feel emotions such as pain or fear and whether animals can be emotional? Very good! Then you are probably also a person who questions things and shows feelings yourself. And of course the answer is YES! But it's just particularly important to me that none of us see animals as things. Whether in a stable, on the street, in the wild, as your own pet or as meat on your own plate.

In this article, I would like to prove to you that animals are emotional beings who feel feelings such as fear and pain just like us humans. Finally, you'll see a video that made me cry like a castle dog.

Tip: Do you know the Environmental problem of species extinction? This is one of many man-made Environmental problems of our time. You can find out more about this in the two linked articles.

Animals are not things, but sentient beings

Do dogs and other animals have feelings and emotions?

In our hectic everyday lives, we can sometimes forget that the kebab we ate at lunchtime was once a sheep or lamb, a chicken, a cow or a calf. We need to understand that animals are emotional creatures that naturally also feel emotions such as fear and pain. Respect and appreciation are the values that often fall by the wayside. Cows, chickens, dogs, cats, elephants, lions? All animals have feelings. There are no exceptions! How can you tell? Here are a few examples - animals...

  • flee (e.g. fish in front of the shark or fishing net)
  • play dead (e.g. rats, if they are in danger)
  • attack (e.g. bees when you hit them)
  • warn each other (e.g. flocking birds such as starlings when they sense danger)
  • search one after the other (e.g. mother cows call for their calf)
  • mourn (e.g. elephants, when an animal has died).
  • are pleased (e.g. dogs when reaching for the game ball).
  • remember (e.g. monkeys seeing a keeper again after a long time).

Tip: Animals have emotions, but can Animals also cry emotionally? You can find out in the linked article.

Why do animals feel emotions and feelings?

Emotions help people and animals as well, evaluate certain situations and experiences. Feeling emotions therefore also provides a evolutionary advantage. Is there danger? Fear, for example, makes us more likely to avoid something. Is it fun? A feeling of happiness makes us long to repeat it. And so on. Whether we are already looking forward to the next episode of our new favorite series - or whether your dog is already looking forward to tomorrow's walk. Humans and animals tick in the same way. We must be clear to everyone.

It is the typical human vanity and impertinence of man to call an animal stupid just because his human mind is not sufficient to understand it.

Mark Twain

Anyone who owns a pet usually knows that animals can show feelings and feel emotions. That's why we are also angry that there are people who eat dogs or cats. Cows, pigs and chickens are not typical pets, which is why we find it easier to eat them.

But in principle, all animals and humans are equal. Whether cow, dog, pig, cat, parrot or chicken. What remains is the question: why do we value some animals differently from others? The answer is probably our habits. And we have to break out of them if we no longer want animals to die for our taste buds or because of cultural traditions.

Notice: Feelings are different from emotions. While Feelings from within arise are Emotions always reactions that are triggered by your own perception or thoughts.

Animals have feelings - what we do and should do

Do cows and other animals have emotions, feelings and sense of pain?

We humans are well aware that animals have feelings and allow emotions. Nevertheless, our behavior is anything but humane. Here I would like to show you some examples of human actions and what each of us can do for the welfare of animals in our everyday lives.

Human crimes against animals

There are so many things that can be categorized as "human crimes against animals" that I can't even list them all here. But to understand what we do to living beings who mean us no harm, here are some examples that make us question our sanity:

  • Factory farming: In Germany alone, around 745 million animals die each year.₁
  • Chick shredding: In Germany alone, approximately 45 million Male chicks gassed.₃
  • Whale battles on the Faroe Islands: Whales faithfully follow the suffering animal and do not leave the injured animal's side. On the Faroe Islands, this is their undoing, as the whale slaughter is celebrated there like a folk festival.₄
  • Ortholan food in France: In France, ortholans are considered a delicacy. Bizarrely, they are locked in a dark room for 2 weeks with their heads bandaged. Almost starving, they are then drowned in wine, which is said to taste particularly good.₅
  • Yulin Dog Meat Festival: At the Chinese festival, 10,000 dogs are eaten. As many as 10 - 20 million dogs are eaten in China throughout the year.₆
  • Animals for laboratory experiments: In Germany alone, around 740,000 animals were killed in laboratory experiments in 2017. A total of 2.8 million animals were used. These included monkeys, cats, fish, dogs, mice and rats.₇

These are crimes. And no matter what is claimed, these acts are not morally defensible. There is no good way to do such bad things.

Do you have any other examples of human crimes against animals? Then feel free to post a comment.

What you can do for animals every day

Many people know that animals have feelings and can be emotional. Nevertheless, they often indirectly and unconsciously cause animal suffering. Here are some things you can do in your everyday life to protect animals from emotional or physical suffering:

  • No more eating meat: The renunciation of meat or its gradual reduction counteracts the climate change, the Deforestation of the forests and also the species extinction against. At the same time, animals are protected from unnecessary suffering and emotional stress. More at Become a vegetarian.
  • Become vegan: Another step is to give up any animal products. For example, replace cow's milk with oat milk. More under Start a vegan diet.
  • Reduce food waste: 45 million chickens, 4 million pigs and 200,000 cattle die for nothing in Germany every year because we throw away food.₈ More at Reduce food waste.
  • Do without palm oil: For Palm oil becomes rainforest destroyed. And unfortunately it is found in many everyday products. Use the CodeCheck Appto track down corresponding articles.
  • Injured Help animals: For example, if you see an injured squirrel or a flightless bird, report it to your local animal welfare organization.
  • Do without fur: Do not buy clothes made of animal material. For example, do without Fur with your winter coat.
  • No souvenirs: Never buy souvenirs made of ivory or rare horn. This is an important stock of the sustainable travel. You can find out more about this at sustainable souvenirs.

Tip: Just look around a bit in the Blog for sustainable living around. There you can find information about animal welfare and more generally about sustainability in everyday life. The inspiring Animal welfare quotes added value for you!

Donations to animal welfare organizations

And of course you can also Support animal welfare organizations financially. Here are highly recommended places to go:

  • PETA: For example, the organization is committed to ensuring that animals are no longer used for food, clothing, entertainment or Animal testing used or exploited. Click here for the website.
  • FOUR PAWS: The foundation fights for the rescue of animals in need and initiates educational campaigns for more conscious consumption. Click here for the website.
  • Sea Shepherd e.V.: The association is primarily committed to the conservation of marine ecosystems. Click here for the website.
  • Deutscher Tierschutzbund e.V.: The association fights for species-appropriate animal husbandry and organizes educational lectures, for example. Click here for the website.

Do animals have emotions, feelings and a sense of pain? Yes!

Animals are sentient, emotional creatures. Everyone needs to understand that. But unfortunately not everyone answers the initial question with YES. Every animal stirs up fears, fears pain, feels joy and shows compassion. We know that. That we can still do something as cruel as Chick shreddingThe way we practise whale slaughter, tail and beak shortening, live skinning or even hunting for the horns of endangered animals will make future generations look at us with disgust.

As long as we humans believe that animals do not feel, animals must feel that humans do not think.


We must define the relationship between humans and animals in a contemporary way. We must not treat animals like objects. Not by producers in meat production, not by us as consumers at the dinner table and, of course, not by us as pet owners.

Do you have any questions about the article or suggestions you would like to share? Then please write a comment below this article. And if you like, you can also share this article with others.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: In the Articles about sustainable living you will get lots of tips for more Environmental awareness in your everyday life. Also look with pleasure in the Wildlife Blog Germany over. My brother Stephan shows emotional short films about Germany's wild animals.

₁,₂ Albert Schweitzer Foundation: Factory farming. [08.10.2019].

₃ Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH (2019): The slaughter continues (as of 29.03.2019). [08.10.2019].

₄ Zeitungsverlag Neue Westfälische GmbH & Co. KG (2018): Bloody hunt: Inhabitants of the Faroe Islands kill hundreds of whales (as of 20.08.2018). [08.10.2019].

₅ NABU - Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V.: Is the Ortolan flying off the menu? [08.10.2019].

₆ Human Environment Animal Welfare Party (2019): Dog slaughter festival Yulin warns (as of 02.07.2019). [08.10.2019].

₇ DER SPIEGEL GmbH & Co. KG (2018): (Statistics on animal experiments 2017 (as at: 20.12.2018). [08.10.2019].

₈ Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln: Tons of food in the bin? That sucks! [07.10.2019].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

2 thoughts on “Haben Tiere Emotionen, Gefühle und Schmerzempfinden?”

  1. Dear Christoph,
    I have read this article with interest. In many respects I agree with you; I would also like to avoid any unnecessary suffering for people and animals. I also think that everyone should live consciously and do what they can within their means. And I also try to do that.
    But this:
    "Animals are sentient, emotional creatures. Everyone must understand that. But unfortunately not everyone answers the initial question with YES. Every animal stirs up fears, fears pain, feels joy and shows compassion. We know that. That we nevertheless practice something as cruel as chick shredding, whale slaughter, tail and beak clipping, live skinning, or even hunting for the horns of endangered animals will make future generations look upon us with disgust."
    is simply not true. First of all, what is this "WE"? I have never done all the things described, nor do I advocate that anyone should do them. Shall future generations look at me with disgust? But probably not on you, although you write "WE", thanks to this web page. Are you still well???
    On topic. MOST animals do not know empathy; this is a rarely observed phenomenon of higher mammal species like whales, apes and elephants. Even for animals emotionally close to us like pigs, cattle, horses, dogs, cats, all birds (including extremely intelligent species like crow birds and some parrots) such is unlikely or demonstrably absent. The care instinct may seem similar in humanized terms, but should not be confused with it,
    EVERY ANIMAL fears pain and feels pleasure? Certainly not. Also this applies probably only to highly developed animals. Surely every animate being has some reward system and a self-preservation instinct, but does that deserve the same respect and consideration as the emotions mentioned? I think not.
    Even fish - after all, specially protected as vertebrates - are so primitive according to the current state of knowledge that any such attribution is ridiculous. And all invertebrates, perhaps with the exception of octopuses and squid, but especially insects, are actually so callous that they could also be classified as bio-robots. There is nothing of feeling, joy, fear of pain or even compassion, merely primitive instincts.
    What I want to say: we absolutely have to make gradations. Insects as food, for example, I find a very interesting way, even if I personally am still subject to the exclusively European food taboo (everywhere else they were and are eaten). But if a mealworm is now to be attributed the same "feelings" as a pig or cattle, it is really tight.... In your opinion, are there actually indications that e.g. insects feel like "all animals" according to your statement?
    Especially since plants also feel attacks, defend themselves, communicate with their environment. Where does it stop then? Even caries bacteria want to live, I'm sure. I kill presumably a few million or billions of them every day.
    And even viruses, which are actually not life at all, at least according to the current view, seem to be eager to have offspring. Do we - polemically asked - now also have to lament the suffering caused by our avoidance strategies? Or is there still something that we can do as humans in our survival-necessary interest?
    Love greetings

    1. Hello Ronald,
      thank you very much for your message! In order:
      By "WE" I mean the last generations. It is not about individuals like you and me. It's about humanity as a whole - and all the generations that have participated in these atrocities. And that includes me - until I understood how cruel factory farming is, for example.
      Of course, in this post I'm talking about the animals we intentionally exploit every day for our benefit. Apart from that have also insects seem to have something like pain sensation.
      Plants do not have a central nervous system - animals do. There is definitely a limit. But I can also understand that gradations make sense in this topic. But as I said, my point is to make it clear that the animals we exploit are sentient beings.
      Many greetings

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