Signs That Your Dog is Dying
Recognizing the signs a dog is dying is a subject that is difficult for every dog owner, but it is important to learn how to recognize the common signs that an aging dog, or one with a terminal illness, is dying.
One of the worst things about owning a dog is that our beloved companions’ lifespans are much shorter than ours.
It is rare for a dog to live for 20 years, and most dogs don’t even live this long. Bigger dogs typically live shorter periods than smaller canine companions, but there are plenty of exceptions, and all dogs are individuals.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that our dogs don’t live forever. How long a dog’s life varies based on several individual factors such as breed, size, environmental impact, and genes.
While most dog breeds have a typical lifespan, that doesn’t necessarily tell you how long your particular dog will live.
And as your dog reaches the end of his lifespan, you may begin to worry about when the time will come for him to move on.
We ultimately owe it to our dogs to learn more about the natural death process since they have filled our lives with so much joy for many years. We can learn how to best help our dogs transition by offering proper end-of-life care, love, and support through such a difficult time.
There are a few signs you can look for to let you know when it is your dog’s time to go, which we’ll share below.
Looking for these signs is essential, as there are many things you can do to bring your dog comfort at the end of its life.
Some dogs may experience the signs and symptoms discussed below when nearing the end, while others may exhibit these clues while still having months or years of life left. Conversely, some dogs may approach the end without showing any obvious signs, leading to unnecessary suffering.
Accordingly, owners must work exceptionally closely with their veterinarians. Don’t make any hasty decisions on your own, and lean on your vet’s expertise and experience to guide your decision-making process.
Signs Your Dog Is Dying: Key Takeaways
- Dogs exhibit several common signs that signify the end is near, including lethargy, reduced Appetite, and seeking more human Comfort than usual.
- You’ll want to be especially compassionate to your dog during this time and work with your vet to ensure he remains comfortable as possible. This includes deciding whether a natural passing or euthanasia is most appropriate.
- You must take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health while providing end-of-life care and give yourself plenty of time to grieve as a pet parent.
A Quick Note About Language
Technically speaking, most of the things we describe below are symptoms rather than signs. While laypersons often use these terms interchangeably, those in the medical and veterinary communities draw a pretty clear distinction between the two.
Simply put, “symptoms” are the things the patient reports and are subjective. For example, “my back hurts” is a symptom.
Conversely, “signs” (or, more specifically, “clinical signs”) are the objective findings of a medical professional. For example, a blood test demonstrating a reduced white blood count would be a clinical sign.
It is a bit more complicated with dogs, as they can’t share their subjective experiences with us. But you explain to the vet that your dog is limping is probably better described as a symptom than a sign. Your vet’s physical examination of your dog may indicate that your dog’s range of motion is decreased.
Nevertheless, we are just trying to help dog owners here; we’re not drafting an article for a veterinary journal. So, we’ll be using the terms colloquially and interchangeably below.
Recognizing the Natural Dying Process
It’s important to recognize that the dying process in dogs (much like that in humans) takes months, weeks, and days before actual death.
Dying, therefore, starts happening well before the actual death occurs, and the process is a very individual experience. Just as dogs are unique in their little ways, so is the dying process for each one of them.
Unless their dog’s death is sudden—as might be the case with poisoning or an acute infection—owners often experience anticipatory grief. In contrast, their dogs undergo several physical, behavioral, and psychological changes during the transition away from this world.
Signs That Your Dog is Dying
Dogs still hold onto many of their old instincts from their wild days. Because of this, many will try to hide the fact that they are ill.
In the wild, showing signs of injury or terminal illness makes an animal a target for predators, which is why many dogs will naturally try not to show pain or display signs that indicate illness.
This can make distinguishing whether or not your canine is nearing the end of his life difficult. Unfortunately, you often won’t know until your dog is very close.
However, there are a few things you can look for that can help you determine whether your dog is nearing the end of its days.
1. Loss of Interest
When a dog approaches the end of his lifespan, he can lose interest in the world around him. This is especially true of dogs who suffer from long-term, chronic illnesses.
Toys he once loved will gather dust, and he might no longer jump up to greet you at the door.
This is often one of the first (and most heartbreaking) signs that your canine’s quality of life is decreasing. This is, unfortunately, a common symptom associated with your dog’s body slowing down.
A loss of interest in previously enjoyable things and activities is usually due to multiple reasons.
- Firstly, your dog is likely to feel more tired than usual, decreasing the time he feels like playing.
- It may also be painful for him to move around too much, especially if he has arthritis or joint pain.
- Finally, even when not in pain, it is also common for old or dying dogs to experience problems with mobility. He might be extra cautious on slippery floors or have trouble judging distance.
These factors can make it much easier for your dog to lay around all day instead of participating in his favorite pastimes.
2. Loss of Coordination
It is very common for dogs to lose coordination as they reach the end of their lifespans. They may not have the muscle strength they once did, which can affect their balance.
Furthermore, they may have trouble judging distance or suffer from less-than-stellar eyesight. These factors can make them much clumsier than usual.
Countless disorders can also cause a loss of coordination, including dehydration. If your pooch is experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms and then a loss of coordination, it could just be that he’s dehydrated.
But your canine developing more than one of these symptoms is worrying.
Dogs that are dying will often experience many of the symptoms of depression.
This is not necessarily because your dog knows he is dying. Instead, it is likely that he simply doesn’t feel well.
He may, for example:
- Stop doing things he once loved
- Cease responding to your attention
- Become withdrawn
- Exhibit changes in his sleeping patterns
- Lose interest in walks or trips to the park
While dog depression is treatable on other occasions, it may not be easy to address as your dog approaches the end of his life.
Medication is used for some depressed dogs, but your canine may not respond well to medication if he is very old. It is important to speak to your vet about your options.
4. Labored Breathing
You have been familiar with your dog’s Breathing for many years, and now you notice that your dog’s breathing pattern is changing. As dogs near death, it is common for their breathing patterns to change or for them to have a difficult time breathing.
This change may take place just hours or days prior to death and is a sign that the dog’s body is beginning to slowly shut down. Here’s what you’ll observe:
- Irregular Breathing: Slower, irregular breaths with pausing in between may be noted. As death nears, the dog may open and close his or her mouth.
- Heavy Breathing: While changes in breathing patterns are common when death is near, labored Breathing may also take place when a dog is running a fever, is in pain, or has fluid in his chest.
How can you help your dog?
Ask your vet to check on your dog and make sure he or she is not congested or in distress
Dogs often lose control of their bladder as they age.
Because of this, incontinence isn’t necessarily a sign that your dog is about to die. Instead, it may just be a part of their normal aging process.
However, if incontinence develops quickly and is paired with other symptoms on this list, it could be a sign that your dog’s body is beginning to shut down.
But if your dog is having accidents yet still jumping around and happy, he is likely not near the end of his life.
We highly recommend taking your pet to the vet if he has lost bladder control. Incontinence can signify many different health problems, many of which are treatable. Just be sure to continue providing plenty of fresh drinking water unless otherwise instructed by your vet.
6. Extreme Lethargy
In many ways, lethargy looks a lot like depression. And while they can occur simultaneously, some dogs will experience lethargy without feeling depressed.
In either case, dogs near the end of life rarely move around much.
Your pet may not play as much as he used to, and he will probably spend most of his time lying around. Your canine may refuse to go on walks, or he may ignore your invitations to play.
Of course, lethargy is common anytime your pet feels under the weather, so he could just be sick.
However, unexplained lethargy or lethargy paired with advanced age and other symptoms can signify that your puppy is dying.
7. Decreased Appetite
Your dog may start eating less and have difficulty finishing its daily portion. This reduced Appetite may result from certain cancer treatments or terminal illnesses.
Dogs with cancer may be nauseated from chemotherapy, or they may not have a large appetite due to certain tumors pushing on their digestive tract, thus requiring smaller meals. Dogs with mast cell tumors may also have reduced Appetite because these tumors release histamines which cause increased stomach acid production and nausea. Nauseous dogs may drool visibly and smack their lips.
- Disinterest in Food: A reduced appetite in dying dogs is natural. Dogs may have a lack of Appetite out of the blue or may go through cycles of normal and abnormal Appetite. The body simply no longer needs the energy from food as it once did.
- Picky Eating: Many dogs will eagerly eat cookies, treats, or people’s food but may turn their nose to kibble or dog food. Some dogs may eat only warmed-up meals. Other dogs may develop new quirks, such as eating only if hand-fed or if the food is placed on the floor.
As dog owners, we feel very saddened by their loss of Appetite because we associate feeding our dogs with nourishment and taking good care of them.
For dogs on medications, food is often used to hide capsules and tablets. Medicating can become particularly frustrating when food is no longer desired. Dog owners often have to get creative to bring their dogs to take pills.
How can you help your dog?
Warm up meals and hand-feed your dog. In the last few days, feed him what he wants as long as it’s not something toxic or that may cause digestive problems.
There are also medications vets can prescribe to increase Appetite. Prednisone, mirtazapine, and the newer product, capromorelin (Entyce), are good options. Soft or liquid meals may be preferred as a dog’s health keeps declining.
8. Gastrointestinal Symptoms
This is a bit rarer than the other symptoms we’ve mentioned, but some dogs develop stomach problems at the end of life. This may include vomiting and diarrhea or just nausea.
These intestinal health issues can develop for a few different reasons:
- Firstly, as your dog nears the end of its life, his digestion may not work as well as it used to. This can make vomiting and diarrhea common.
- Another issue to consider is your dog’s appetite, which may be affected and could lead to nausea or may be a symptom of an underlying gastrointestinal condition associated with various diseases.
Given the myriad causes of gastrointestinal upset, we recommend speaking with your vet if you notice any of these symptoms.
In any case, it is very important to keep your dog hydrated if he’s beginning to experience gastrointestinal symptoms. Diarrhea — particularly severe diarrhea — may cause dehydration, and constipation can result from dehydration.
9. Seeking Comfort
Dogs may become clingier when they begin approaching the end of their lives. They likely won’t feel well, and some dogs will look to their owners for Comfort.
With that said, this is somewhat rare.
Dogs still hold onto many of their instincts when it comes to the end of their life, so they may often try to hide that they’re sick — even from their favorite person.
Furthermore, a dog suffering from lethargy may not have the energy to seek Comfort.
Some dogs may also hide as death nears instead of seeking Comfort. They often won’t want to be around others when they die and may seek Comfort in the silence of their beds.
It isn’t uncommon for dogs to go under beds before they die and hide there.
Your dog may experience some loss of muscle control with age, which can lead to twitching.
Pain can also cause twitching, as can some secondary symptoms, like dehydration.
Twitching by itself isn’t always a bad sign. Like humans, dogs can twitch for almost no reason.
However, very bad twitching that causes your pooch to lose his balance or twitching that lasts for a long time could be a sign of a deeper problem. In this case, you should speak to your vet to rule out a treatable illness.
When your dog is nearing the end of its life, he will likely not feel well. Because of this, he may become very irritable.
He might snap unexpectedly, react badly to things he used to tolerate, or growl unnecessarily.
This is often a response to fear and pain.
If your dog is in pain, he may be afraid that contact will cause him more pain.
For instance, he may be afraid that you’ll push down in the wrong spot.
Because of this, he may try to protect himself by becoming irritable and somewhat defensive.
On the flip side, if your dog has the energy to be irritable, it is possible that he is not as close to death as you may fear. Dogs that are very close to death are often lethargic rather than irritable.
If you notice any significant behavioral changes in your canine, speak to your vet.
12. Changes in Gum Color
Looking at the dog’s gums is an optimum reference when it comes to determining a dog’s health status. In a healthy dog, you want to see nice bubblegum-pink gums. These pink gums are proof of oxygen-rich blood circulating throughout the dog’s body. The gums are also typically moist.
Changes in color may be observed if the blood vessels are not properly vascularized and oxygenated.
- Abnormal Color: In a dying dog or in a dog in critical condition, the gums and tongue tend to gradually turn pale or blue and then eventually white. The mouth also becomes dry. In dogs who cannot swallow, fluid may leak from the mouth.
How can you help your dog?
There is not much that can be done to reverse the gum-color changes caused by reduced circulation.
If your dog is anemic due to a bleeding cancer, you can ask your vet about an emergency transfusion, but in many cases, this may only provide transient relief.
Yunnan Baiyao emergency pills (the red pills found in the middle of the packet) can sometimes help for acute hemorrhage due to hemangiosarcoma, but won’t work for major, massive bleedings.
Consult with a vet. He or she may suggest a PCV (a hematocrit level) to assess the situation. For critical cases, humane euthanasia may be elected.
For the dry mouth and dry gums, you can help keep the lips and gums moist with lukewarm water by using a cotton swab if the dog appears to appreciate this.
13. Emotional Detachment
Dogs react to death differently. While some pups may lean on their owners more for support, other dogs may seek solitude.
You might find that your dog seeks out more alone time or begins resting in low-traffic areas of your home. This can be especially heartbreaking for pet parents, but remember that this is a normal way for some pets to cope at the end of their lives.
Your dog might not be interested in company or touch, and that’s OK. Make sure that any of your dog’s new “spots” are well equipped with a food and water bowl so that he doesn’t have to roam far to get sustenance if needed.
14. Lowered Body Temperature
As things progress and death inevitably approaches, the body cools down because of reduced circulation. Owners often notice cold paws and cooler breath. This is normal considering that the body temperature lowers and blood pressure drops before death.
How can you help your dog?
Keep a very light blanket on your dog for Comfort, but make sure it’s a very light one, as a regular blanket may feel very heavy on a dying dog.
“When an animal hospice patient is in the last hours of life, recognition and alleviation of pain are top priorities for the pet owner and the healthcare team.
Pain should be addressed as soon as it is suspected when physiologic or behavioral signs are noted. Contrary to a common fear, no evidence suggests that pain suddenly intensifies during active dying.”
— American Animal Hospital Association
What to Expect After Your Dog Dies
Once a dog has passed away, there are a few last changes that will occur. It is good to be aware of these changes beforehand to prepare accordingly.
15. Weight Loss
Dental issues or a decreased appetite can ultimately lead to weight loss. And in some cases, weight loss may be attributed to diseases your dog has, such as cancer or chronic renal or hepatic insufficiencies — it just depends on the specifics, such as the type of cancer your dog suffers from.
Depending on your dog’s situation, this change can be gradual or rapid. Your veterinarian may prescribe a specialized diet or an appetite stimulant to help manage these losses.
Weight loss in older dogs is most troubling when your dog loses a lot of weight in a short period. Unfortunately, rapid weight loss often indicates an underlying disease in dogs, like kidney failure or liver failure, so it’s important to seek care from your veterinarian as you start to notice these changes in your pet.
Use Your Best Judgement
You know your dog better than anyone else, so you’ll know best when something is wrong.
Old age is tied to many health hiccups, but not all indicate imminent death.
However, you’ll know when your dog’s quality of life has been significantly affected.
The little hiccups often add up until you know your canine isn’t having such a good time anymore.
Point being: Whether your dog is exhibiting one of the signs mentioned above or several, factor your intuition in to achieve the best understanding of the situation.
How to Help Your Dog at the End: What Should You Do?
When your dog is nearing the end of his life, you can do a few things to help keep him comfortable.
Just remember that all dogs are individuals. Some of these suggestions might not fit your canine’s personality, and that’s OK. Do what you think will make your dog the most comfortable.
Limit the Pain
The easiest way to help your dog enjoy his last few days is to manage his pain as much as possible.
Many chronic illnesses can cause pain, so you’ll need to tailor your approach to your dog’s specific ailment. If he has arthritis in his hips, for example, you probably want to ensure he’s in a comfortable location and avoid making him move too much.
He may also benefit from a super-supportive memory foam dog bed.
Work closely with your vet too. With your vet’s approval, you can use over-the-counter dog-safe pain medicine to ease your dog’s discomfort. Your vet may also be willing to prescribe more powerful canine pain meditations that’ll help ease your dog’s suffering.
Once again, you know your dog best, so you’ll be the best judge of how much pain he’s in.
While many dogs suffer a bit in the end, a combination of medication, compassion, and common sense can help keep them more comfortable.
Continue Daily Routines
Dogs thrive on routines, so you must continue yours for as long as possible. This will alleviate some of your dog’s stress.
Your dog may be unable to go on walks once the end approaches. But, if you sit on the couch and cuddle at the same time each day, be sure you continue that ritual.
You will likely need to suspend your usual routine because your dog won’t be up to it anymore. But try to continue your typical routine for as long as you can.
Your dog will benefit from your presence during this stressful time, so stay close.
Furthermore, you’ll want to be there to help your canine reposition or take potty breaks as painlessly as possible.
Your canine may also go downhill quickly, so you want to be around. If possible, plan to be at your dog’s side for at least a few days.
If you can’t be there for whatever reason, ask a family member or friend familiar with your furry family member to spend some time with your pooch.
You don’t want to have a stranger watch them, as this may stress your dog out, and that’s the last thing you want to do.
Your buddy has been there for you during trying times for years, and this is your chance to return the favor.
Limit New Activities
While you want to continue old routines and activities for as long as possible, new activities should usually be avoided.
Your dog probably won’t be able to do much anyway, and new activities may cause more stress than they are worth.
Any significant changes to your home or surroundings should be put off as well. You want to keep everything as normal as possible so you don’t cause unnecessary stress.
Two Important Decisions: How Will It All End & What Happens Afterward?
You’ll need to make two crucial decisions as you get close to the end. We’ll discuss each — and try to provide a bit of guidance — below.
Decide Between Euthanasia and Natural Passing
You will eventually need to make a decision on euthanasia vs. natural passing.
You won’t always have the option to choose, as your dog may go downhill too fast to make it to the vet’s office.
However, if you can decide, you’ll want to be prepared beforehand.
Also, understand that your decision may not always be cut and dry, and you may change your mind as circumstances change.
For example, you may decide to let your dog pass naturally, but then change your mind when your dog’s suffering stretches out for weeks. That is OK.
The main advantage of euthanasia is that your pet’s passing will likely be quick and painless. Your pet will lose consciousness quickly during the procedure so that it won’t feel anything.
However, you will likely need to drive to the vet’s office, which may be unreasonable if your pet is in a lot of pain.
Fortunately, some vets will make house calls for euthanasia, so be sure to ask. Euthanasia will cost money, but it typically isn’t costly.
Natural death can happen in the Comfort of your own home, but it can be a drawn-out process. It can also be hard to watch.
Some pets die in their sleep in very little pain, but many do not. There can be less guilt associated with this method if you feel uneasy about euthanasia.
However, there may also be guilt about not ending your pet’s suffering beforehand.
There is often no easy answer, and making this decision is a massive struggle for pet owners.
Animals with trouble breathing, stress, and severe, unmanageable pain benefit most from euthanasia. Euthanasia can be the most compassionate choice in many other situations as well.
The decision is entirely up to you.
Be sure to take into account your dog’s personality. Some don’t mind going to the vet, while others hate leaving home. Some may be in a lot of pain, while others will have their pain managed efficiently with medication.
There is no “right” answer, so you’ll need to just try to make the best decision on behalf of your pet.
What Should I Do If My Dog Dies at Home?
In an ideal situation, your veterinarian will be with you when your dog passes. Many veterinary clinics will collect your beloved pet’s body and offer cremation services and burial services for the deceased. Mobile veterinarians, regular cremation services, and animal control can also help. If these services are unavailable to you, here are some tips on what to do:
- If available, wear gloves when handling your beloved pet.
- Put your dog’s body on a dog bed, blanket, or sheet. Bodily fluids may leave the body at any point and soil linens, so make sure you can part with these items.
- Be mentally prepared and expect rigor mortis and stiffening to occur within hours.
- Wrap your beloved pet in a blanket and consider placing them on top of a large trash bag to prevent bodily fluid leakage.
- It is best to store your dog’s body in a cool, private place until you can contact a professional service.
- Make sure to recruit emotional and mental support. Do not feel you have to go through this alone.
Cremation or Burial: What Will You Do Once Your Pet Passes?
While it might be hard, you should also consider what to do after your pet dies. The two most common choices are burial and cremation.
If you have land and your dog is smaller, burial is probably your best option.
However, pet cremation is also available in many cases. This option is great for bigger dogs, where burial might be difficult.
Some owners find the act of burying their dogs very upsetting. You may want to consider a cremation facility in this case too.
If you decide on cremation, you can do many different things with your dog’s ashes to create a lasting memorial.
You may want to consider spreading them in a flower bed, burying them beneath a memorial stone, placing them in an urn, or placing a portion in a locket or other piece of memorial jewelry.
Many owners also scatter the ashes at locations that are special to their pets.
The Very End: What Happens at the Vet
If you decide on euthanasia and a home visit from your vet isn’t possible, you must take a trip to the vet’s office.
This cannot be very pleasant, so you may want to bring a support person.
Larger dogs may need someone to hold them in the car, making a support person very valuable.
Euthanasia is often very quick and will be painless. But you will need to call ahead and make an appointment.
Usually, the appointment will be late at night or early in the morning when the office is not busy. Most vets will build time into the appointment for you to say goodbye to your pet once the injections have been administered.
The procedure itself is very simple. Your vet will likely give your dog a strong sedative, which will make him very sleepy and calm.
Then, the vet will inject pentobarbital. This is a medication used for anesthesia, so your canine will drift off to sleep.
In this case, the dosage will be much higher than is “safe,” so it will halt your pet’s Breathing.
Your dog will fall asleep and experience a loss of consciousness before this happens, so he will not feel any pain or know what is happening. This individual process takes about 10 to 20 seconds, and you will likely be able to hold your pet throughout the entire thing.
The only pain your pet will feel is the needle’s prick, which does not hurt more than your average shot. After that, they will drift off to sleep and just not wake up.
It is a very peaceful process and happens very quickly. Many will lose consciousness within seconds, just like you would when given anesthesia before surgery.
Your pet may twitch after the procedure, but this is just leftover nerve activity and reflexes. Rest assured, your buddy will be at peace.
Do Dogs Know When a Dog Dies?
Yes. A study published in the journal Animals observed 159 dogs and 152 cats who had recently lost an animal family member. It was revealed that many of the animals in the study continuously went to check on their companion’s favorite places in the home.
Other trending behaviors included increased clinginess in both cats and dogs, increased napping in dogs, increased vocalizations in cats, and reduced Appetite in both dogs and cats.
What Are the Stages of Grief?
The stages of grief are nonlinear, but understanding that one may experience every emotion helps to aid in the healing process. Here are the five stages of grief.
- Denial: Denial and shock go hand-in-hand. You may have a hard time accepting that your pet is truly gone. Shock may result in the absence of emotion; one may go about daily life as if nothing has changed. This is part of the normal grieving process.
- Anger: Anger is simply a symptom of pain. An owner may experience a sense of injustice—”Why did my dog have to die if I took such good care of him?” Anger is best not internalized and should be dealt with healthily.
- Bargaining: Bargaining is a common symptom of grief. Individuals may experience bargaining early on as a form of anticipatory grief. This may involve wishing your dog could be spared a terminal diagnosis.
- Depression: Depression occurs near or shortly after death. Intense sadness is commonly associated with depression. The owner may feel apathetic towards normal activities or unable to take care of themselves.
- Acceptance: Acceptance often occurs as part of the healing process. Acceptance allows one to comprehend the loss but continue to move on in life and cope. Acceptance does not mean forgetting; it simply means finding a way to live and continue to love in the present.
Signs Your Dog Is Dying FAQ
Coming to terms with end-of-life care is challenging. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers that will hopefully help you find some clarity.
What are the first signs of a dying dog?
Every dog is different, but some clinical signs that a dog is dying include a reduced appetite, weight loss, and a loss of interest in regular activities. If something is out of sorts with your canine companion, you must go to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
What are the last signs of a dying dog?
You might see more drastic physical changes like rapid weight loss as your dog approaches death. Dogs approaching death may experience behavioral changes like loss of interest, confusion, lethargy, avoidance, or extreme attachment to their families.
How do dogs act when they are dying?
Dying dogs act in various ways, but they generally act in out-of-character ways due to the pain and confusion that comes as your dog nears the end. Your dog may lose interest in the activities and company he used to adore.
How do I know if my dog is dying or just sick?
The only definitive way to check your dog’s health is to visit the veterinarian. Some clinical signs that indicate that your dog is due for a visit include changes in Appetite, behavior, lethargy, and loss of interest in your dog’s usual routine.
Where should we prepare to take the dog’s body once she has passed, and how much does it cost?
If you plan to do cremation, several companies will come to your home to pick up the body. Costs may vary from one place and another. I will give you a rough estimate based on what I paid for when my dog passed away.
The transport to the cremation facility was $75 (I think these costs vary based on mileage; we are pretty far out of town), so there may be considerably lower if you live in town.
And then private cremation was $215. The cremation costs vary based on a pet’s weight, based on a large dog. Communal cremation should be considerably lower. I am so sorry you are going through this, but careful planning seems to make it all a bit less stressful.
Are my female dog’s black diarrhea and gas signaling that it is dying?
Black diarrhea and gas can be signs of several medical conditions and are, therefore, not necessarily a sign of a dog dying. However, black diarrhea can be potentially serious and, left untreated, can be life-threatening.
Black diarrhea can be indicative of bleeding in the upper digestive tract. When blood is digested, it turns dark, giving stools a dark color. This is medically known as melena.
Melena can be a sign of a bleeding stomach ulcer, which can be seen in dogs given aspirin, steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, it can be seen in dogs who ingested rat poison or have serious blood clotting disorders or bleeding cancers.
If you see black diarrhea, please see your vet at your earliest convenience. Chances are, this can be managed if caught early enough.
How do I know if my dog is dying of old age? My 12-year-old lab/chow with white gums, not eating or drinking.
The symptoms you are listing are very concerning. White gums can indicate anemia, which can be seen in dogs with several conditions such as bleeding cancers (a common one is a hemangiosarcoma), blood clotting disorders, heavy parasite loads, and ingestion of rat poison, just to name a few. White gums are caused by the dog not having enough red blood cells circulating in the blood.
Dogs with white gums can be shocked by this and become weak and lose their Appetite. Caught early, sometimes shock can be reversed by stabilizing the dog and supportive care (e.g. blood transfusion) to help him pull through the crisis. If your dog has white gums and is not eating or drinking, please see your vet at your earliest convenience.
From the list of 12 signs that a dog may be dying, my doh only has one of them: she can no longer jump up into bed. I have to lift her back end, but she’s still eating and drinking. Any idea what could be going on?
Have your dog see the vet. This can simply be a back problem, a hip problem, or some other orthopedic issue commonly seen in aging dogs. Your vet can prescribe pain relievers that can help her mobility. It’s very good that she is eating and drinking.
Is it dying if your dog guards his food, guards it for two days, and has very severe diarrhea?
Very severe diarrhea, of course, is concerning and should be checked out by a vet. I don’t think guarding food and having diarrhea is particularly indicative of a dog who is dying. Still, severe diarrhea and not eating/drinking can lead to progressive dehydration, which can ultimately become life-threatening, so please consult with a vet to see what can be done to keep it under control.
From personal experience, I can say that my dog, when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, guarded her food against my other dog when she was still interested in it. Then, as her Appetite diminished and became weaker, she mellowed down a bit in this aspect, but I still used caution in preventing any possible resource guarding.
Suppose your dog never resources guarded and now resource guards. In that case, changes in the brain (resulting from kidney/liver failure, brain cancer, or cognitive dysfunction in older dogs) may be taking place, which can cause abnormal behaviors.
Another possible explanation is that you are offering high-value foods that your dog cherishes and desires but doesn’t eat due to nausea/lack of Appetite. Since the foods are lying around, and your dog has no interest in consuming them readily, he may use his growl to inform other dogs or people that although he isn’t eating it, he still wants to retain ownership of it.
This mindset may especially occur when dogs are in pain or weaker, and they feel more vulnerable since they may not walk around as they used to, so they use “their words” more since they can’t just pick up the food and walk away.
Will a dying dog vomit up a white liquid?
It is not unusual for a dying dog to vomit. The white liquid may be mucus, often produced in the GI tract when irritated. In dogs dying from heart problems (like heartworm disease), coughing up and vomiting foam is not unusual.
Dogs dying from bloat may retch and vomit only small amounts of foam. If there is no more swallowing, saliva may pool and cause drooling, or there may be nausea if the dog is off food. However, vomiting a white liquid is not specific enough to indicate one disease or disorder, and it may be seen in a dying dog but also in a non-dying dog.
My dog is dying; how long does it take?
There isn’t a standard amount of time for dogs to pass. Some dogs decline rapidly, while others are able to manage their compromised state for days or weeks. It’s entirely up to you whether you opt for natural passing or euthanasia.