The problem of animal awareness lies at the interface of science and philosophy. As a starting point for the study of phenomena such as awareness, mind, consciousness, etc., we hardly have any reference other than our own human experience and in the context of a nondualistic ontology this can be justified. In philosophy and psychology it appears to be very difficult to give direct operational definitions of terms such as consciousness, etc. So we might expect this to be even more difficult in the study of animals. A detailed knowledge of animals and their behaviour is necessary in order to be able to say something about their subjective experiences, and to prevent us from excessively projecting human experience on animals.
Wemelsfelder, F. (1984). The question of animal awareness. In M.W. Fox & L.D. Mickley (Eds.), Advances in animal welfare science 1984/85 (pp. 1-18). Washington, DC: The Humane Society of the United States.