How Do I Know If My Dog Is Dying?


how do i know if my dog is dying
Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

“How do I know if my dog is dying?” Such an emotional question to answer. We have heard it often said that death is inevitable. However, hearing this so many times does not in any way reduce the pain and hurt felt when a loved one passes on. 

The closer the relationship we had with the deceased, the somewhat harder it is to get over the death. The truth is we might never get over some deaths, but we can learn to live beyond the deaths of those beloved ones. It does not matter if the loved one is a human being or an animal, the loss is just as painful. 

Today, we will be looking at signs that could tell if a dog is dying. Since death is inevitable, you might probably be wondering why we should even be considering this topic. 

Well, knowing a possible outcome and preparing for it gets you to respond better when the inevitable happens. This way, you are not taken unawares, and so, you are able to make the right decisions. In this case, it helps in the grieving process. Also, it helps your dog transition more comfortably.


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What Could Make A Dog Die?

Before we look at the signs that a dying dog shows, let us first consider what could make a dog die. Just like humans, the death of a dog can be as a result of aging or poor health status. 

Everyone wants to age gracefully, and so does your dog. Irrespective of how much care is given, the natural passing of time must still be accepted. And as we know, death is inevitable. The aging process can lead to a decline in general health conditions.

Apart from aging, a dog can attain a poor health status as a result of an accident, feeding habit, acute infections, respiratory failure, cancer, or unobserved trauma.

(By the way, there are certain foods that could totally kill your dog if consumed. Click here to learn what foods are dangerous for your dog in our article: 197 foods dogs can’t eat.)

As your dog’s health declines despite medical help received, you will need to prepare for his demise.



What Are The Signs?

Most times, we learn more by observation. An attentive pet owner is more likely to detect that something is wrong with a pet than a negligent one. Because you are a thoughtful and observant, changes in your beloved furry companion’s behavior should not escape your notice. You will know if something is wrong when you observe changes in feeding, drinking, or sleeping patterns. A change in dog activity is a major sign that something is off. 

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Let us consider these signs one after the other.


Lethargy And Extreme Fatigue

One clear sign that your dog is dying is lethargy. You will notice that your dog’s movements are sluggish, showing a lack of energy. Sometimes, he will just stay at a particular spot for a long period of time and will put in so much effort to change positions. He will tend to sleep a lot and will show a lack of enthusiasm towards the usual activities of interest. Due to the effort it takes to move around, it will appear that he favors solitude over the company of another. 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay


Decreased or Complete Loss of Appetite

A major sign that your dog is dying is a decrease in appetite, which inadvertently leads to a complete loss of appetite. Even the most delicious treats will be refused at this point. The loss in appetite affects both food and water. A dying dog’s biological functions, which include digestion, are gradually failing. Because your dog’s digestive organs are declining, he will not be able to experience hunger or thirst. A visible weight loss is sure to follow. 

If your dog is dying, although he might be able to consume some amount of food and water, he will still have issues keeping them down due to the state of his digestive organs. That is why it is not surprising that before dogs die, they tend to vomit a lot. 



As your dog’s biological organs begin to shut down, he will likely lose control over his bowel and bladder. We refer to this involuntary urination and defecation as incontinence. 

This can be depressing for a well-trained dog because he will have to go against what he has been trained to relieve himself wherever he is lying. It is important for you as a pet owner to remain calm at this point knowing your gentleman of a dog will never have had that bathroom accident if his body wasn’t failing. 


Uncoordinated Movement

A dog that is dying will become very unsteady on his feet. A general lack of coordination in a dog’s movement can be as a result of an ear infection that is messing up with his balance. However, when that dog is anemic, experiencing a failure of his biological functions and showing signs of extreme fatigue, then it is clear that he is dying. As the situation deteriorates, mobility might even become next to impossible, if not impossible.

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Detachment From Surrounding

As your dog draws closer to death, he may begin to withdraw into himself and have no desire for your company. This is a major tendency, although there have been few exceptions were dying dogs become clingy a few hours to their demise. However, dying dogs mostly crave solitude. Don’t be shocked when your dog no longer rushes out of the door to greet you as you come home from the mall. Don’t be surprised when he doesn’t so much as wag his tail to acknowledge your presence. 

Try to be calm and do not get depressed because although it is unable to understand your words, he understands your emotions. Stay loving till the very end.



What Do You Do When You See These Signs?

Usually, when your dog is dying all the signs discussed above show up at about the same time. It is possible that your dog may be exhibiting one sign but not the others. In such a situation, it is advisable to talk with your veterinarian to be sure nothing else is involved. However, do not ignore the signs.

Once, it is confirmed that your dog is indeed dying, it is time for you to make sure that you do the best you can for your furry pet. This can include wrapping a light blanket around him as his body’s temperature drops from time to time. Also, ensure to change his soiled beddings frequently. Keep a water bowl within his reach even if he’s unable to drink. Respect his desire for solitude and speak calmly to him when you speak.

This period will not be easy on you, but remember that your dog is also experiencing all the pain, hurt, and discomfort. Make his transition smooth, and you will be glad you did all you could for him.