One in nine Yorkshire animal lovers claim to have been visited by the spirit of their dead pet.
And more than a tenth of bereaved British pet owners sought counselling or antidepressants after losing their four-legged friends, according to Animalfriends.co.uk.
The study also found that a seventh of Yorkshire pet owners believe losing a pet is sadder than losing a relative.
And to show their love and respect for a dead animal, one in five owners are prepared to pay for a proper pet funeral, while one in three Brits choose to bury their animal’s remains in their back gardens.
Dr Thomas Fletcher, senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, said: “We humanise our pets – they are not just animals but become actual members of our family.
“Particularly for elderly people the animal is the one they invest so much of their time and energy into.
“For that person in particular, an animal’s loss is felt more keenly than that of a human.
“Because pets are entirely dependent on us, those who are lonely invest even more of their time because they are reliant on us for everything.”
Westley Pearson, Managing Director of Animalfriends.co.uk, added: “It can be very distressing when you lose a pet as many people have them for years and consider them a member of the family. If a death is inevitable, you can prepare young children for the event, by explaining to them that their pet is poorly.
“It’s a nice idea to keep little things to remind you of your pet – like photos or videos – so you have those memories forever.”