This is probably the hardest thing for us to accept, that our furry friend is reaching the end of its life and it’s time to say goodbye to them. Even a whole life together wouldn’t be enough for us and it always feels too soon when the dreaded moment comes. As pet owners, we must all go through this tough time, at least once in our life. However, the news doesn’t have to come as a surprise. There are some key symptoms and behavior that can indicate when your dog’s time is coming to an end. It is worth noting that though some of these symptoms may be signs that your dog is dying, they can also be common signs of severe illness, and so you should always seek the help of a professional with a trip to the vet immediately before making any big decisions.
We have put together a list of signs that should common dog behavior before death, that may indicate your four-legged friend is nearing the end of its life:
1. Loss of Appetite
Mealtime is surely your dog’s favorite time of the day. They eagerly wait all day for the familiar rustle of their favorite treat packets and the clinking sound of their food bowl. Even if your dog is not really a foodie, they will still enjoy eating as much as we all do. However, if you notice that your dog is not eating or eating half of what you’ve served him, there is a chance that he/she is showing signs of weakness.
When dogs lose interest in their dog food, it can sometimes be that they are in pain. Though it is possible that the loss of appetite is being caused by illness as opposed to a terminal cause, so keep that in mind. Like humans, dogs during their end time, do not care about food all that much. Either way, if your dog stops eating for a prolonged period, it’s best to get them checked out by the vet.
2. Extreme Weight Loss
Dogs that are struggling with their health will often lose weight as one of the first signs that something is seriously wrong. It’s not just a case of dog behavior, before death dogs will begin to physically change due to stresses on their body beyond their control as your dog reaches the end. Weight loss can be caused by loss of appetite, liver failure, old age, dehydration, and when they lose muscle mass due to reduced movement.
Many dogs can experience severe weight loss as a result of terminal illness, however, weight loss can also be the result of digestion problems and a myriad of other potential problems. Try not to assume the worst and seek medical health
Both humans and dogs slow down as they age. The level of energy in their bodies tends to lower as a dog ages. They just can’t bring themselves to run like they would have even a year back. When your dog becomes old, they are likely to be less active. You’ll notice that your dog is just lying in one place most of the time and lacks the high-spirited nature they possessed earlier. Therefore lethargy is a key sign that your dog is dying.
They will try to move less and conserve whatever energy they have left within them to deal with death. Some of the other signs include your dog losing interest in their favorite toys and dog treats don’t seem to fascinate them anymore. If you’re trying to interest them with new things, they would rather ignore you and sleep for hours instead.
4. Untimely Vomiting
Vomiting might be because of infections, viruses, motion sickness, or other reasons. However, when a dog is in their last stages, they are likely to vomit untimely as their digestive system begins to shut down. The undigested food in their stomach will make the dog feel nauseated which is why the dog will vomit to clean up whatever is in their stomach. Vomiting is usually confusing. It may also indicate that the dog is seriously ill.
There are many ways that the dog can be made to feel more comfortable. Look for food comforting to their stomach and seek professional advice from medical experts to ease their end journey.
5. Loss of Coordination
If you notice that your athletic dog is stumbling or having difficulty with muscle control, it might be a sign that they are losing their sense of coordination. Balance issues stem from underlying diseases or other injuries and is a definite indication that a dog may be dying. On a different note, balance issues may also indicate ear infections or other health conditions. Again, if you’re in doubt, contact your vet to make sure that your canine is not suffering from any illness.
6. Difficulty Breathing
Although respiratory problems are common in dogs, they may indicate heart failure or other respiratory organ disorders. Your dog who could previously run for hours and never pant is suddenly getting exhausted and tiring too quickly. If you notice that it takes significantly longer for your canine to fully inhale and exhale, then it could be a sign of them growing old. In addition to that, if you notice that they are finding it difficult to catch their breath, or appear to have labored breathing, it might be a sign that they are nearing an end.
Odd breathing and open-mouthed breathing are not always one of the signs of a dog dying, however, as certain breeds are susceptible to breathing trouble anyway. So if you’re unsure whether it’s sickness or just part of the natural aging process, be sure to call your vet for advice.
7. Muscles Tremors
Remember the first point where it says that your dog will lose their appetite and not want to eat. The lack of food and water in their system will decrease glucose levels, making them weak. This lack of nutrition is likely to cause dehydration and therefore, muscle tremors and shaking will take place. Your dog will experience constant twitching. This is an involuntary response to their weak bodies.
Their body temperature is likely to drop dangerously low every now and then. This could make them very uncomfortable, so you’ll need to warm them up by putting on a heating pad or doggy blankets over them. This could make some last bonding moments between you and your furry friend before they pass away.
8. Bad Skin
Even though your furry friend is all covered with fur, you will notice the dehydration that a dying dog experiences will affect their skin. The quality and condition of their fur and skin will worsen day by day. It will become dry and rough, no matter how much you try to maintain it or try your best to keep it smooth and silky.
9. Dental Conditions
The bright pink gums of your canine will become noticeably pale. This is how you will be able to understand that their dental conditions are taking a turn for the worse. They may also have crooked, cracked, and loose teeth due to which they would be in extreme pain. Of course, your dog might have encountered quite a few dental problems, but you are the one who should check the intensity of the problem. If it seems too serious, contact your vet and they will be able to check your dog’s gums and teeth in order to clarify the problem or whether it is because they are dying.
Either way, your dog is bound to contract some severe dental issues, and this is also one of the contributing factors of your dog denying food or feeling a loss of appetite. In the last stage of your dog’s life, you’ll notice almost all the symptoms are interconnected with each other.
10. Loss of Consciousness
In other words, fainting. This happens when there is not enough blood flow to the brain. Fainting is rare among dogs and this usually happens when your dog is in a serious medical state. This clearly shows that your dog is in a dying state because fainting usually happens hours before they finally take their last breath. This is also a sign that your dog is seriously suffering. However, never keep a fainted dog untreated. You need to take action immediately and take them to the vet ASAP.
Confusion and disorientation are common side effects of declining health. Your dog will be feeling weak as a result of the lack of food and water. This is bound to have an effect on their focus. Additionally, disorientation is a natural part of old age in all creatures. They may become forgetful, or wander around in an aimless fashion. The best thing you can do for your dog if this happens is gently to encourage them in the right direction and show them that you are there to support them.
Additionally, you can provide them with a few comfortable areas in the house that they can settle if they get lost moving from one area to another. It is common for a senior dog to forget where it is when they become confused – at the vest least a good settling space for them can provide some comfort and support.
12. Inability to Get Comfortable
Painful joints and ligaments are a common side effect of old age with pets. As your dog nears the end of its life it will struggle to become comfortable. It may be due to physical or mental discomfort. Their confusion can cause them to become irritable or stressed by their surroundings. Whereas any physical impairment as a result of an active lifestyle, severe trauma from their past, or side-effects of your dog’s condition can result in them struggling to find a comfortable way to settle down.
The best way for a pet owner to keep on top of their dog’s comfort is to ensure they have the best possible space to rest. Something like an orthopedic dog bed with a memory foam mattress may serve as a good spot for them to settle down.
Dogs are the best when it comes to hiding their feelings. But you as the owner can always articulate whether your furry pooch is happy or if anything is wrong with them. They will always express their happiness and joy if they really enjoy doing something. As your canine ages, they will no longer be involved in any activities. They would quit playtime. Worst-case scenarios occur when they don’t even enjoy being in your presence.
Do take note if your canine stops wagging its tail or showing enthusiasm. All this could mean that deep down inside they are psychologically upset and sad. The last stages usually make the dog create a distance from their human, but it is up to you to eliminate the gap and comfort them.
Your lively hyperactive dog may become incontinent. They might be unwilling to move from one spot and not defecate in the spot or during sleep. Alternatively, it could also mean severe arthritis. But canine arthritis is not life-threatening and can be controlled in many ways. They could also be sleeping incontinently. You could consider purchasing a dog diaper during such times to assist them in such circumstances.
Your pet dog may get confused and annoyed and might even bite one of your family members. Your dog would be very irritated psychologically and might even stop grooming themselves. If this happens, you must protect any other pets in your house because your dying dog might start picking on them too. Their annoyance could lead to aggression. But all you need to do is be patient.
You have to understand your pet is suffering from the inside and that they cannot even express their feelings in words. Just be comforting and persistent. Try to make their last few days bearable.
Most dogs do realize when it’s their time towards the end. Dogs isolate themselves when it’s time for their death. If you notice that your dog is being too snugly for the last few days and one day suddenly they are lying somewhere, away from everything, it’s time they are showing signs that they are not going to live much longer. They also have passed you on their hugs and kisses through the snuggles. Dogs love their human companions unconditionally.
They want you to know how much they feel for you before they finally leave. In fact, if your dog is staring at you with adoration, snuggling on your lap at odd times and wanting belly rubs over and over again, this is actually a warning sign.
How to Comfort my Dying Dog?
We know how mentally tough it might be for you to prepare for your dog’s death. Well, all good things come to an end. And smile that your dog came into your life, and cherish the perfect memories you have together. Here are some things you need to do to your dog to make their final hours comfortable:
- Give them a place that is quiet and warm so that they can rest comfortably. Observe interactions of your dying dog with other pets and your children. While you may understand your dog’s situation, they might not. Just keep an eye!
- Try offering your beloved pet some food and water. See if he/she is willing to take it or not, but don’t force it on them. Your dog knows when eating won’t be of any use to them.
- Talk to your dog and pet them softly. Your dog will understand your love. Reassure your furry friend that everything is fine. Although it is extremely difficult, try to calm and soothe your pet.
- Make sure that your dog is not suffering too much in pain by getting them the required medical attention.
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Facing the End Together with a Brave Face
Once the veterinarian confirmed the fact that your dog is dying, there is no coming back from it. By now, you also know that your dog is in constant pain and fear. Though you never wanted to see your dog die, sometimes there’s nothing we can do about a situation but accept it. If you don’t want your dog to suffer too much, you can consider euthanasia. This is often the most compassionate choice for both of you. Carry your dog to the vet and they shall be able to examine their condition and tell you whether or not euthanasia is the right choice.
Keep Them Comfortable
Make sure that your dog is comfortable even at the vets. Bring their favorite dog toy or blanket, that will make them feel at peace near the end. The loss of a pet is like the loss of a family member. It is never going to be easy to witness if your dog is dying, but it is so important that they know you won’t abandon them in their hour of need. Having a pet put to sleep is every owner’s worst nightmare, but do everything you can to stay with them and keep them comfortable. It may be that you feel the need to close your eyes when it’s happening, but try to hold them and stroke them – let them feel your presence, and know that you’re with them. They will need to feel your love in their final moments, just like they have their whole life.
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Is My Dog Dying?
As pet parents it is never easy when a beloved dog passes, but going through the grieving process is sadly inevitable. You can only seek to find the best way to provide them with the best end-of-life care. Whether it be veterinary medicine to ease their discomfort, a top-of-the-line dog bed so that they can rest in peace and maintain their body temperature more easily, or simply giving them plenty of kisses and cuddle to let them know you’re there for them. Emotional comfort can do your four-legged best friend a world of good. Letting your dog pass naturally is the best thing for them – they will let you know when they need you by their side.
Be There For Them
Always try and do the best for your pets and ensure that they are never suffering from anything. Whether they’re an elderly dog that has reached their time, or a younger dog struggling with illness, they all need comfort and care. Just show them that you love them and let them see you smile. We hope this article has helped you to recognize the potential signs that your dog might be dying and helped you to deal with the anxiety of losing your pet dog.
See how much compassionate leave employees believe they should receive following the loss of a pet.
- Kelly Roper, Warning Signs a Dog Is Dying, Love to Know
- Laura Agadoni, Signs That a Pet May Be Dying, The Nest
- Saying Goodbye to Your Dog: How to Know When It’s Time, Michelson Found Animals
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.