A dog that is about to die often shows very specific behavior. Physical signs also reveal that his time has come. Here you can find out how to properly support a dying dog and whether dogs say goodbye to their people.
If an old or sick dog becomes weaker and weaker, there is a great fear that it could die soon. Prepare yourself for this tragic event: dying is a lengthy process for most dogs, which takes a lot of patience and strength from the owner.
It is important that you know exactly how to make the last days of your dying dog’s life as comfortable as possible. Find out here how you can tell that the time has come for your dog and how you can help him now.
Natural death in dogs
In the case of natural death, the dog falls asleep peacefully and never wakes up again. Unfortunately, a dog dying of old age and gently falling asleep at home is not the norm. Most of the time, the vet has to step in and put the dog to sleep.
If the dog shows the first physical signs that its life is coming to an end, you have to weigh up: Does it make sense to release it or can it spend its last hour’s pain-free?
Physical signs that the dog will die soon
In dogs that are about to die, the body gradually shuts down various functions. The following physical signs tell you clearly that the dog will not live long:
- Muscles become weak: muscle spasms occur and reflexes weaken. The dog walks unsteadily.
Organs stop functioning: Organs such as the liver or kidneys gradually stop working. The dying dog may vomit bile.
- Bowel and bladder control are lost: the dog defecates and urinates uncontrollably. Diarrhea with blood and a putrid odor often occurs in dying dogs.
- Mucous membranes are dry: The mucous membranes (such as the lips or the palate) become pale. The skin also dries out.
- Breathing and heartbeat weaken: A dog that is dying will breathe more and more shallowly and have a weak pulse. This can happen days before death. Right before death, the dog takes another big breath and you can feel the lungs collapse.
This is how a dog behaves just before it dies
Dogs that don’t live much longer often show the same typical behavior. There are three stages of dying that most dogs go through just before they die. These are
- Dying phase: refusal of food and water
- Dying phase: increased urge to move
- Dying phase: convulsions and defecation
Dying phase: Dog refuses food and water
When the dog stops eating and refuses to drink, that is the first sign that death is imminent. Most dogs refuse food several days before they die. A clear sign is when the dog itself ignores its favorite food and treats.
Dogs stop eating before they die because food would only provide energy that they no longer need. This energy would be even more of a hindrance to the dying process.
Dying phase: urge to move before death
Many dog owners are surprised when their dog suddenly moves around a lot, even though they are not eating or drinking water. Unfortunately, this is not a sign that the dog’s condition is improving. It is typical behavior for the second phase of death. Experts assume that dogs move so much shortly before they die in order to use up their last remaining energy reserves.
Most dogs that are about to die exhibit this contradictory behavior. Important: Let your dog do what he wants. If he wants to walk back and forth a bit, he should be allowed to do so.
Dying phase: Dog convulses and defecates
When the last phase of death is reached, most dogs lie motionless. They usually vomit, defecate or cramp. It also happens that the dogs howl and bark loudly. But pain is not to blame for this: it is the clear sign that the end has come.
This phase is an enormous emotional challenge for dog owners. It can even last for several days. Nevertheless, try to keep calm and clean your dog lovingly. He can no longer go out to do his business. Leave him alone and save him stress. Stay close to give him safety and security until the end without hassling him.
Do dying dogs say goodbye to their humans?
That dogs say goodbye to their people as soon as they realize that they are going to die has not yet been proven with certainty. However, some dog owners report that their dog was particularly clingy before death. However, it is unclear whether this should be seen as a farewell.
Every dog is different and deals with their own death differently. While some dying dogs like to be close to their owners, others prefer to retreat and die alone.
Important: Try to recognize what your dog wants and respect this last wish. Don’t rush him, but never leave him all alone. Leaving a dying dog alone is irresponsible.
Here’s how owners can help their dying dog
Whether a dog likes to be around their human or not, there are a few important rules you should always keep in mind to make your dog’s final days and hours as stress-free as possible:
- Never leave your dog unattended: If the dog is in pain or needs your help in some other way, you can intervene.
- If the dog dies at the vet, stay by its side: dying alone in unfamiliar surroundings is very frightening for the dog.
- Always remain patient and calm: If you are stressed, this will be passed on to your dog. Try to stay calm to avoid stressing your dog.
- Clean up your dog: Dogs usually defecate and urinate uncontrollably before they die. Gently clean your dog to make the last few hours as comfortable as possible.
- Avoid loud noises: visiting is now taboo! Your dog should be allowed to die in peace, without being disturbed by loud noises or other people.
Farewell to the deceased dog
If your dog has survived, you should let all family members say goodbye to him. This includes the other dogs in the household. If they get the opportunity to say goodbye, they search much less long for the deceased conspecific. Always stay close by to intervene should the need arise.
Losing a beloved dog is very painful. You should consider how best to deal with your grief. Give yourself and other family members enough time to get over the tragic loss.