How Do I Know If My Dog is Dying?

Death is an inevitable part of life. While questions such as “how do I know if my dog is dying?” rarely comes up, it’s something that every pet owner eventually has to face. Since your dog is a beloved member of your family, you must not only know how to treat them right when they’re still alive but also when their time has come.

Preparing for your dog’s death will help you to pick the best arrangements and come in terms once they’re gone. Whether your dog is battling with a terminal illness or simply reaching old age, here’s a comprehensive guide to answer your questions.

How Do I Know If My Dog is Dying?

Although dealing with the realization that your dog is dying is difficult, it’s always best to be prepared. The followings are the most commonly found signs that are found in dogs when the time has come. Usually, the signs begin more apparent weeks or months before their death. However, there are also cases where dogs show these signs within days from their death.

  • Extreme Exhaustion

Similar to humans, dogs also experience severe exhaustion or fatigue as a sign of their death. Some dogs might lay unmoving for hours, too tired to even lift their head, while the others might still walk around and perform daily activity although at a decreased speed and intensity.

  • Incontinence

Incontinence refers to dogs’ loss of control of their bladder and bowel movements. No matter how well-trained they are, fatigue and muscle pain might disable them to pee or move their bowel accordingly. In this case, you can put a hygiene pad under their body and change it regularly. It is important to be patient and not to stress them further as they are not in their best condition.

  • Ragged Breathing

How do I know if my dog is dying? Odd, ragged breathing is one of the definitive signs, especially in older dogs. You may also notice the longer interval between breath or the difficulty to inhale air. However, if the symptom shows in younger dogs, you might want to talk to the vet for a sign of illness.

  • Lack of Appetite

Once your dog is too exhausted to even lift their head, sooner or later, they are going to start losing their appetite. A dying dog usually refuses both food and water intake. Even when they do consume it, there’s a chance of vomiting or other digestive issues. During this situation, be sure to keep them hydrated through regular water sips.

  • Social Detachment

The closer dogs are to death, they tend to refrain from any social interaction and prefer to isolate themselves from the hustle-bustle of the home. Make sure to respect their space and if you need to approach them, be as gentle and affectionate as possible. Avoid harsh light or loud noise.

  • Dropping Body Temperature

Once death is the closest, your canine’s body temperature will drop down due to a lack of circulation. At this time, all you can do is to wait, keep them as warm as possible under a light blanket, and hope for a peaceful passing.

How to Comfort a Dying Dog

signs your dog is dying
your dog is dying

Now that you’ve recognized the signs of their old age, the only thing you can do is to treat them in the best ways that you can. Indeed. Incontinence and lack of appetite might be troublesome, but it is important to note that your dog can’t help their behavior. Make sure to use the most of your time together with your canine so that there won’t be any regret in the coming days.

If it’s your first time tending a dying dog, here are some tips to get through it.

  • Maintain Normal Habit

Whether it’s taking an outdoor walk or working out together, every dog owner has a different habit and activity with their canine companion. Now that your dog isn’t as healthy anymore, consider slowing down the intensity and take things slow instead. Do not restrain them from their daily habit as it can be stressful for them.

  • Stay Close to Them

The older a dog gets, the clingier they become. During the last of their days, give them the utmost attention and care you can afford. Soothe them in a hushing voice and pat them whenever you can. Do not wallow or express sadness around them as it will affect their mental condition.

  • Minimize Interaction

Social interaction and a new environment are distressing to dying dogs. Thus, it is way better to spend the time you have left with your dogs in solitude, away from the things that make them uncomfortable. If there are new people around your dog, remind them to stay kind and talk in a soothing voice to suppress your dog’s anxiety.

What You Should Prepare

Preparing and planning might sound overwhelming when your beloved pet is on the verge of death. Still, everyone wants the best for their dogs, and preparing the essentials is the only way to bury them with love.

Euthanasia vs Natural Passing

Sometimes, prolonging your dog’s life through medication only means lengthening their pain. In this case, the Chicago Tribune shared their perspective regarding humane euthanasia for dogs. They suggest that dog owners should evaluate the quality of the dog’s life before deciding to put them into sleep.

While it is hard, humane euthanasia lets you decide your dog’s last moment and give you a sense of closure. Just make sure to do it with a trusted vet that will do every procedure with your dog’s priority in mind.

Are Dogs Scared to Die?

Beside Still Water noted that animals know when they are dying, but they do not experience the same fear us, humans, feel regarding the topic. When dogs are dying, they’ve come to a place of acceptance and try to communicate it with their owner—similar to an old, wise grandma passing on the hospital bed. However, clouded by our grief and anxiety, pet owners sometimes fail to decipher their dog’s feelings.

Losing your beloved companion is a wound that is hard to heal. Ironically, questioning yourself with “how do I know if my dog is dying?” actually helps to prevent future regrets and let you move on from the grief faster.


Losing a dog is an experience every dog owner is afraid of. Unfortunately, it is inevitable. You can identify when your dog is nearing to its time when they start to detach themselves, lose appetite, too tired to move, and lose control in their bladder and bowel movements. To comfort them, consider staying close to them, minimize social interaction, and maintain their normal habit if they’re still able to. All in all, questions such as “how do I know if my dog is dying?” is not cruel for your dog. Rather, it proves that you love them enough to prepare the best until their last days.

 signs your dog is dying  

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