This is probably the hardest thing for us to accept, that our furry friend has become old and it’s time for us 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 to as a surprise. There are some key symptoms and behaviour that will clearly tell us that our dog’s time has come to an end. Some of these symptoms would indicate that they are severely ill and considering their age, it may even mean that they are at the last stage of their life.

Here are few signs to look for:

1. Loss of Appetite

Mealtime is surely your dog’s favourite time of the day. They eagerly wait all day for the familiar rustle of their favorite treat packets and the clink 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 the proportion of what you’ve served him, there is a chance that he/she is showing signs of weakness and that they are near to their end of life. Loss of appetite for dogs is a major sign of severe illness. Like us, dogs during their end time, do not care about food all that much. Either way, upon noticing loss of appetite for a prolonged period, it’s best to get them checked out by the vet.

old and dying dog

2. Lethargy

Both humans and dogs slow down as they age. The level of energy in their bodies tend 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 favourite toys and their treats doesn’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.

3. Untimely vomiting

Vomiting might be because of infections, virus, 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 whch 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 feel more comfortable. Look for food comforting to their stomach and seek professional advice from the medical experts to ease their end journey.

4. Balancing Issues

If you notice that your athletic dog is stumbling or having difficulty to move about, 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.

5. Difficulty in breathing

Although respiratory problems are common in dogs, it 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 significantly notice that it takes a longer time 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, it might be a sign that they are nearing to an end.

6. 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 wil take place. Your dog will experience constant twitching. This is an involuntary response to their weak body. 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 heating pad or doggy blankets over them. This could make some last bonding moments between you and your furry friend before they pass away.

7. 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.

old and dying canine

8. Dental Conditions

The bright pink gums of your canine will noticeably become 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 lose 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 clarify you about 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.

9. 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.

10. Sadness

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 their tails or purring. All this could mean that deep down inside they are psychologically upset and sad. The last stages usually make the dog create a distance with their human, but it is up to you to eliminate the gap and comfort them.

11. Incontinence

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 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.

12. Annoyance

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.

dying old dog

13. Extreme Snugliness

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.

Facing the End Together with a Brave Face

Once you have been confirmed of 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 your their condition and tell you whether or not euthanasia is a right choice. Make sure that your dog is comfortable even at the vets. Bring their favourite toy or blanket, that will make them feel at peace near the end. If you cannot bear to witness the process and feel that you need to stay outside the room, feel free to do so. The loss of a pet is like a loss of a family member. In other words, the hardest ordeal that anyone ever has to endure if that person had a pet in their house.

dying pooch

Bottom Line

Although it is never easy for you to let your pet dog go, someone who has served you for years so dearly and loyally, we must go through such grief at times to find a greater meaning of our own lives.

Always try and do the best for your pets and ensure that they are never suffering from anything. Pet them from time to time in such situations to keep them calm and prevent them from any stress and anxiety. Hope this article helped you deal with the anxiety of losing your pet dog.

Sources

  1. Warning Signs a Dog Is Dying, Love to Know
  2. Signs That a Pet May Be Dying, The Nest
Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!

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