Do dogs go to heaven?

A study systematically exploring beliefs about animal afterlife has been published in the journal Anthrozoös. The study investigated how demographic categories can have a considerable influence on beliefs about animal afterlife.

The authors surveyed 800 participants, examining how demographic factors including sex, race, age, geographic region, religious beliefs, and pet ownership all affect an individual's beliefs about animal afterlife.

Results showed that people who believe in an afterlife for humans are more likely to believe in an afterlife for animals — 59% of participants believed in human afterlife and 75% of those individuals also believed in animal afterlife.

Researchers also found that people held different beliefs for different animals. Study leader Kenneth Royal of North Carolina State University said, "In general, dogs, cats, and horses were rated most likely to experience an afterlife, whereas insects, fish, and reptiles were rated least likely."

The findings may have clinical significance for veterinarians in end of life care. Vets should be aware in decision-making and general practice that some people extend their own spirituality to their pets.