12 Signs a Dog is Dying: What to Do When Your Dog’s Health Declines
The loss of a pet is not easy, nor is it easy talking about their declining health. However, you can give your best buddy the best end of life care when it’s time. Having an awareness of end of life issues and symptoms can help you cope better and be there for your fur baby and support them through this stage of their lives.
The Natural Dying Process For Dogs
The death of our beloved dog is very painful and sad. We never know when our doggie best buddy will die, but old age or illness eventually come. It’s something we put off thinking about. Usually there are years of togetherness before we have to deal with this issue. However, a day will eventually come when you begin to notice your dog’s not doing well. It may be a health issue that’s curable—and that’s great, but there are some signs that your dog is in the stages of dying.
The signs and symptoms of the dying process are easy to miss as they may be subtle and happen over a long time period. However, being aware of the process will help you provide the best care for your dog during this time. Not only that, but early detection of health issues can help you and your vet to to keep him comfortable.
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This is a hard question—some of the health issues and symptoms may be the same if your dog’s only ill or has begun the dying process. In the upcoming sections we’re going to take a look at the signs and symptoms that may indicate your dog is facing the end of his life. However, if you believe your dog isn’t feeling well, be sure to make an appointment with your vet. The vet will be able to tell if your dog is ill or in decline. They’re the best source of advice and guidance when it comes to dealing with dogs that are ill or facing their last days.
What are Dog Dying Symptoms?
It could be you’re reading this article out of concern for your fur baby and you may be worried you’ll miss the signs he could be dying. We’ve put together a list of symptoms and indications that may help you, along with the guidance you receive from your vet. These are the most common signs your pet may be facing death:
Early signs a dog is dying:
- Lethargy: your fur baby may be sleeping more than normal. He may also be sleeping harder than he used to. In addition, he may lack the energy to care for himself and may look for places to hide and be alone.
- Mobility issues and may be slow: your pup may have more difficulty getting around, getting up and making other movements. In addition, he may become slower than normal.
- Losing weight: this could be a fast or slow process—it depends on the dog. This symptom may also occur in conjunction with wasting. Signs of wasting include loss of strength, energy, and feebleness.
- Social detachment: dogs who are dying seek places away from everyone, including those they love. They look for solitude and peace in which to become more comfortable and not be bothered. Isolation is normal, but the social distancing can be difficult for pet parents. Just know this is a normal part of the process and respect his desire to be alone.
These signs and symptoms may also be an indication of illness, if your dog’s older or has chronic health issues. It’s a good idea to get your pup to the vet for a checkup. It could be signs of an illness that can be treated. However, you have to realize it could be an indication your dog is starting to die.Check Price on Amazon
Final Signs a Dog is Dying
- Pain: this goes along with restlessness (see below) and can be a sign of organ failure, cancer, etc.
- Changes in gum color: your pup’s gums may become pale, white or even blue. This is a sign of failure of body systems and organs.
- Restlessness: this is a sign your dog is uncomfortable and may be in pain. He may walk around or keep rearranging on his bed in an effort to find a comfortable position to rest.
- Potty issues (incontinence): it’s normal for dogs at the end to have trouble with incontinence. You may find that he soils his bedding, has more accidents before he makes it outside and/or potty accidents may even happy quite suddenly while he’s laying down.
- Isn’t interested in eating: your precious fur baby may lose interest in water and food. This is normal and be sure not to force him to eat or drink. It’s a good idea to call the vet and see if there’s any support that can be offered to make your dog more comfortable
- Isn’t interested in drinking: a dog may also lose interest in drinking water; again, this is a sign to call the vet.
- Difficulty breathing: your dog may develop irregular breathing at times. It’s possible he may develop a cough or even wheezing. If this is the case, call the vet as soon as possible.
- Lowered body temperature: your fur baby may feel cool to the touch—this is due to a loss of temperature regulation in his body.
Signs Dog is Dying from Kidney Failure
As dogs age, it’s quite common for them to develop kidney disease. Unfortunately, your pup may not show any signs of kidney failure until late. Common signs of kidney failure include:
- Increased thirst/dehydration
- Urinating more often
- Blood tests may show increased blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Sores in the mouth
- Anemia (resulting in pale gums)
It is possible to extend a dog’s life if they suffer kidney disease. This can be done with special diets that slow down renal failure. However, the dog’s kidney will continue to failure, ultimately leading to death or euthanasia to relive suffering.Check Price on Amazon
Signs a Dog is Dying of Cancer
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, cancer is the leading cause of death in older dogs; about 30% of all dogs over the age of 7 years will experience cancer at some point…Incidence rates vary by breed, with some breeds more prone to cancer.
The most common types of cancer in dogs includes:
- Soft tissue sarcoma
- Canine bladder cancer
- Mammary tumors
What are the signs your fur baby could be dying of cancer? Here are the most common symptoms to watch for:
- Abnormal swelling of any type, which appears to grow: this is an indication of a mass or lump under the skin.
- Sores that don’t heal: these may be small sores or wounds, which don’t respond to antibiotic treatment. This type of sore may also be found near a dog’s nail(s).
- Weight loss: any kind of unexplained weight loss can indicate cancer. This could be due to tumors or other issues.
- Loss of appetite: a mass pushing on any part of the digestive tract can cause a dog to lose his appetite. He may stop eating altogether.
- Difficulty swallowing or eating: this could be caused by a mass or tumor in the dog’s neck, which puts pressure on his throat. It can possibly cause a dog to have trouble eating and/or swallowing.
- Bleeding or discharge from body opening: bleeding from the nose or another area can be a sign of cancer in dogs.
- Offensive odor: a dog with cancer may develop bad body odor, which can be caused by pus, infection and bacteria along with the cancer.
- Loss of energy: dogs frequently start to slow down when they’re not feeling well. Dogs with cancer may experience loss of energy and stamina.
- Lameness or stiffness: another common symptom of canine cancer is persistent lameness or stiffness. This can be caused by bone pain and swelling in the legs caused by the cancer.
- Difficulty breathing or going potty: can be caused by a mass pressing on a dog’s throat, lung, bladder, urethra or rectum/anus.
It’s important to call your vet if your dog is showing any of these symptoms. Cancer that’s caught early can be treated successfully, which could help prolong his life.Check Price on Amazon
Signs Dog is Dying of Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is another common health problem that faces older dogs. This health problem is usually caused by aging valves in a dog’s heart. Leaky valves can cause blood to backup, causing fluid retention and even a heart murmur. This disease has two stages: early and late:
Early Symptoms of Heart Failure:
- Increased sleeping
- Coughing (most often at night or in the early morning)
- Weight loss
- Fainting spells
Late Stage Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure:
- Distended abdomen
- Blue or gray gums
- Swelling in the legs
- Weight loss (severe)
- Difficulty breathing
- Fluid in the lungs
If your dog develops any of these symptoms, it’s time to call the vet. Your fur baby needs to be checked out as soon as possible.
Canine congestive heart failure can be treated, which will necessitate a variety of medications and supplements. These work to extend a dog’s life but cannot heal the heart.
Dog End of Life Care
Dying goes at its own pace; some dogs may pass quickly, while others may continue to live for weeks or months. There’s no way to predict when the end will come. It’s a time of worry, grief, and difficulty for pet parents and their families. You may even wonder if you’ll be able to spot the signs; however, rest assured that when the time comes, you will know.
Near the end of life, it’s important to consider your dog’s overall quality of life. It may be necessary to consider euthanasia at some point. This is so very hard—no words can describe the feelings we go through when considering this option. However, to be a responsible pet parent you must put your pup’s well being ahead of your emotions and grief. You want to keep his suffering to a minimum. It’s horribly difficult decision, but sometimes it’s the best option to let our fur babies go peacefully. We hope this guide helps you understand what happens during a dog’s end of life, and we send our thoughts and prayers to you and your sweet pup.