Can Our Pets Absorb Our Illnesses?


Are you an empath? To learn coping skills, get my PDF “Life Strategies for Sensitive People” here.

Purchase Download >


emotional freedomI love animals. They are powerful conduits of unconditional love. My editor wanted me to remove this story from “Emotional Freedom” about a dog’s compassion because it wasn’t between two humans. I disagreed and kept it in. Here is an excerpt from the last chapter of the book called “Facing Anger, Building Compassion.” I hope you like it. I hope you know that love exists between all sentient beings.


Compassion also provides the crucible for healing miracles to occur. One of my workshop participants told the following story. Two years before, she’d longed to get pregnant but she had a rare, serious type of kidney disease. Her doctor warned that pregnancy would overly stress her body, even endanger her life. Still, this woman’s desire for a baby was so strong she decided to risk it. Fortunately, she stayed well those nine months and her disease stabilized, which isn’t typical during pregnancy, a great relief to her, her husband, and the doctor. However, in that same period, her young Golden Retriever, her constant companion and ?soul-mate? with whom she was so attuned, was diagnosed with kidney failure. Soon after the birth of her daughter, this loving animal died, as if having held on just long enough to see her through.

Though cynics would dismiss as “mere coincidence” the fact that both contracted the same rare disease–especially when the dog had been perfectly healthy–I read this quite differently. For me, it seems rather to be a moving reminder of the interconnectedness of our hearts and the power of compassion. There was a special love between this woman and her dog. Could it be possible for one life to so empathize with another that it can sense, even assume illness? Certainly, something to contemplate. As a physician I know that love can create miracles that defy logical explanation. Selfless giving resonates with such mystery. How wondrous and far reaching compassion can be among all living beings. Each of us is capable of limitless love. The monumental implications of this fact continue to reveal themselves over the years, always giving me chills and re-clarifying my emotional priorities.

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2011)


Judith Orloff, MD is the New York Times best-selling author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. Her new book Thriving as an Empath offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people along with its companion The Empath’s Empowerment Journal. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA and has a TEDX talk. Her other books are Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive HealingExplore more information about her Empath Support Online course and speaking schedule on

Connect with Judith on  Facebook Twitter and Instagram.

2 thoughts on “Can Our Pets Absorb Our Illnesses?

  1. I had a powerful experience just 2 wks ago as my 12 yr companion, a chocolate lab, was passing. We were so connected that when he was taking his final breaths, I was unable to breathe. He looked at me and we both felt his body stopping together. The harder it became for me to breathe that calmer he became. I have had a lifelong struggle with addiction and the past several months were my worst. I believe my companion died to save me from myself. It seems that the more I gave up or lost my will, the sicker he became. He was perfectly healthy 8 months ago. No illnesses or injuries. I felt him mirroring me in his passing and I promised him I will do better. ❤💔❤ I believe he saved my life.

  2. I agree. I saw my parent’s dogs pass away from no real reason other than to let them move on from the house my sister passed away in. They so wanted a fresh start and no reminders of that home. I feel that their dogs sacrificed themselves.

    Having seen that, I always tell my dog, my cross to bear is mine, don’t you go taking it on. I will someday learn what it is and I’ll need you then as much as I do now (which is alot).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll Up