12 Signs a Dog Is Dying: What to Do When Your Dog's Health Declines

Updated on July 10, 2019
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Adrienne is certified dog trainer and former veterinary assistant. She has taken several courses on hospice, end-of-life care for dogs.

Learning how to analyze your beloved pet's quality of life will help you through the difficult decisions.
Learning how to analyze your beloved pet's quality of life will help you through the difficult decisions. | Source

Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

This is a subject that is hard for every pet owner, but learning how to recognize the common signs that an aging dog or one with a terminal illness is dying is important. We owe it to our dogs to learn more about the natural death process since they have filled our lives with so much joy for so many years. We can learn how to best help our dogs transition by offering proper end-of-life care and love and support through such a difficult time. We will break down the following topics in this article:

  • Natural Death Defined
  • When Is It "Time" to Go?
  • Assessing Quality of Life
  • Early Indications of Dying
  • End-Stage Indications of Dying
  • Do Dogs Know When Another Dog Dies?
  • The 5 Stages of Grief
  • Ceremony and Processing Death

Pet loss is not easy to discuss, but being aware of the various stages of natural death will help you through the grieving process.

Recognizing the Natural Dying Process

It's important to recognize that the dying process in dogs (much like that in humans) takes place months, weeks, and days prior to actual death. Dying, therefore, starts happening well before actual death occurs, and the process is a very individual experience.

Just as dogs are unique in their own little ways, so is the dying process for each one of them. Owners often experience anticipatory grief while their dogs undergo several physical, behavioral, and psychological changes during the transition away from this world.

When Is It "Time" to Put Your Dog to Sleep?

Many dog owners will witness only the early signs of dying and may elect euthanasia. Some dog owners who elect hospice, palliative, or end-of-life care under the guidance of a veterinarian will witness the more advanced changes which often take place when death is imminent.

Many dog owners wonder when it is "time" for their best friend to pass. The truth is, nobody knows this—we cannot determine our dog's life expectancy. We can only make an educated guess based on how the dog is feeling and which signs are being displayed. Many vets suggest judging quality of life based on whether or not your dog experiences more bad days than good. There are vets now specializing in hospice care who can also offer quality of life consultations.

Consider Your Dog's Quality of Life

Knowing when to put a dog to sleep is ultimately a personal decision considering that only owners know their dogs best. Many dog owners use quality of life scales as a measure, but these are not always accurate considering that the dying process unfolds for dogs in different ways.

For those considering hospice, palliative, or end-of-life care with their vet in support of a natural death, a helpful quality of dying scale is offered by the GRACE Consortium (Gratitude and Respect for Animals and their Care at End-of-Life).

A Good Death

Although not an easy decision, euthanasia is often a humane option for helping your dog to transition. "Eu" literally means "goodly or well" and "thanatos" means "death."

How to Tell If Your Dog Is Dying

Witnessing a pet's death unfold is a difficult thing, but it is best to be informed. Since dying is a process, it means that dog owners can actively take several steps to help their dogs through these changes. Described below are generalized early signs that a dog is dying. These common signs start taking place months to weeks prior to death, although they may also show in dogs that are just days away from death.

Early Signs a Dog Is Dying

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Social Detachment

End-Stage Signs a Dog Is Dying

  • Decreased Thirst
  • Incontinence
  • Restlessness
  • Pain
  • Labored Breathing
  • Changes in Gum Color

12 Signs and Symptoms That a Dog Is Dying

Sign
Indications
Support
Lethargy
Sleeping more, apathy towards the usual activities, poor hygiene, seeking solitude
Provide your dog with comfortable places to rest and assist with gentle grooming.
Decreased Appetite
Showing disinterest in food, eating small portions, eating less regularly, demonstrating a preference for certain foods
Provide smaller meals at appropriate frequencies; be sure to offer proper nutrition, but also feed what your dog takes interest in.
Weight Loss
Gradual or rapid reduction in weight accompanied by wasting
Your vet might prescribe an appetite stimulant or diet for weight management.
Social Detachment
Isolation—physical and social distancing
Respect your dog's desire for solitude. Approach and speak to him or her calmly when engaging.
Reduced Mobility
Difficulty getting up and effortful movements
Offer skid-proof flooring and consider using slings and harnesses to assist with mobility.
Decreased Thirst
Disinterest in water and food
Make the water bowl easily available. Do not force your dog to consume water. Consult with your vet if your dog is on medication.
Incontinence
Soiled bedding
Hygienic pads can be placed underneath your dog and should be changed out frequently.
Restlessness
Visible discomfort
Help your dog to get comfortable by repositioning them to prevent bed sores. Offer them warmth or cooling as needed.
Pain
Often accompanied by labored breathing, restlessness, and inappetence
Consult with your vet to offer pain meds or homeopathic remedies.
Labored Breathing
Irregular breath patterns
Make an appointment with your vet.
Change in Gum Color
Rather than bubble-gum pink, gums appear pale, blue, or white
A dry mouth can be remedied with assistance, but gum-color change is often a result of systemic failure.
Cool Body
Body temperature drops and is cooler to the touch
Provide your dog with a light blanket.
Lethargy is an early indication of an aging dog.
Lethargy is an early indication of an aging dog. | Source

Although several of the signs depicted here may be indicative of impending death, it's important to recognize that they may also be signs of several conditions that require treatment and may not necessarily result in death.

Similarly, certain conditions such as bloat and heat stroke may result in a dog's death if not attended to. If your dog is old or was diagnosed with a terminal disease, keep in contact with your vet or seek the aid of a hospice vet.

The following is an in more in-depth description of the signs and symptoms of dying in dogs. Not all dogs may show the same signs and/or they may not show up in the same order. As mentioned, death in dogs is an individualized experience.

1. Lethargy

We are so used to seeing our dogs in perpetual motion most of their lives, that the day they start acting lethargic we tend to worry and rightfully so. In the veterinary field the term "ain't doing right" (abbreviated in medical charts as ADR) is often used to depict abnormal activity in a dog that is simply not doing well.

Lethargy, of course, is not necessarily a sign of impending death in dogs and is not pathognomonic of something necessarily dire, but it can be one of the initial signs of serious illness or the dying process and tends to gradually worsen over time.

  • Sleeping: A dog may start to sleep more and seek out isolation in areas where he or she can be undisturbed. Dog owners may notice how some usual behaviors and activities may start to lessen or disappear from the dog's repertoire of behaviors.
  • Apathy: A dog may no longer greet the owners at the door or may no longer be interested in going on walks or playing. They may get weaker and may start walking at a slower pace.
  • Worsened Hygiene: A dog may no longer groom as before.

As the lethargy progresses, they may be reluctant to get up to eat and drink and go outside to potty; they may lie down in the same area and position for extended periods of time.

How can you help your dog?

Let your dog sleep as much as he or she likes. Provide them with a comfortable and quiet place to rest. Keep your dog away from loud noises, boisterous kids, and the commotion of family members fighting.

Inappetence is a common side effect of terminal or chronic illness and old age.
Inappetence is a common side effect of terminal or chronic illness and old age. | Source

2. Decreased Appetite

Your dog may start eating less and may have a hard time finishing his or her daily portion. This reduced appetite may be a consequence of certain cancer treatments or terminal illness. 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 due to the fact that 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. The body simply no longer needs the energy from food as it once did. Dogs may have a lack of appetite out of the blue or may go through cycles of normal and abnormal appetite.
  • Picky Eating: Many dogs will eagerly eat cookies, treats, or people food, but may turn their nose at kibble or dog food. Some dogs may eat only warmed-up meals. Other dogs may develop some new quirks such as eating only if they are hand-fed or only 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 particularly creative to get their dogs to take pills.

How can you help your dog?

Warm up meals and hand-feed your dog. In the last days, feed him what he wants as long as it's not something toxic or something that may cause digestive problems. There are medications vets can prescribe to increase appetite. Prednisone, mirtazapine, and the newer product, capromorelin (Entyce), are good options. As a dog's health keeps declining, soft or liquid meals may be preferred.

In any event, it is always best that a dog with cancer eat something rather than nothing. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best option for your dog.

— Robin Downing, DVM
Weight loss may be a result of old age or a common side effect of terminal and chronic illness.
Weight loss may be a result of old age or a common side effect of terminal and chronic illness. | Source

3. Weight Loss

As dogs eat less, weight loss is common. This can be quite upsetting for dog owners to witness. It is not unusual for geriatric dogs to become very thin and emaciated just because of old age, but in many cases, this weight loss is due to some degenerative disorders such as chronic renal or hepatic insufficiencies and/or some types of malignancies.

  • Cachexia: In dogs with cancer, a significant reduction in body condition takes place. This loss of muscle and fat stores is known as cachexia. Cancer cachexia in dogs may take place even though a dog may be eating fairly well. Essentially, cancer cells use up a lot of the dog's calories. This is not surprising considering how fast cancer cells tend to divide to make new cells and use up energy, explains veterinarian Dr. Damian Dressler.

How can you help your dog?

Ask your vet for appetite stimulants and discuss the option of starting your dog on a diet high in protein and fat to combat the weight loss seen in cancer cachexia.

It is natural for older dogs to seek out solitude when death is near.
It is natural for older dogs to seek out solitude when death is near. | Source

4. Social Detachment

As dogs approach natural death they may seek out solitude. They may detach a little bit more each day from their routines and seek resting areas away from all the hustle and bustle of busy homes.

Before my uncle's dog passed, he reported that in the previous days his pretty collie dog was not showing up as much as before. He preferred sleeping in the barn rather than being present in the mornings to greet him and have breakfast as he always did in the past 10 years. Many owners, however, report that their dogs remain very present and affectionate for most of the time. Some report them even being clingy, although at times they may still seek distance.

  • Isolation: As death gets closer, distancing and physical and emotional detachment may become more common in dogs. Some dog owners even report noticing this detachment in their dog's eyes. "It's almost is if Ranger wasn't fully there when I looked into his eyes," my client reported when I asked her about her dog's final days.

How can you help your dog?

Respect your dog's need for peace and quiet. Approach him or her quietly to prevent startling them. Calmly touch them and reassure them. Avoid loud noises or bright lights. Consider spraying some Rescue Remedy or Adaptil in the room.

Several signs may indicate the later stages of natural death in dogs.
Several signs may indicate the later stages of natural death in dogs.

Imminent Signs a Dog Is Dying

There are some signs that are more likely to occur as a dog is days away from death. As mentioned, there are no rules set when it comes to the dying process and some signs may pop up earlier than expected.

Most dog owners who elect euthanasia after witnessing the early signs may not witness the signs described here; however, in some cases it can happen that natural death in dogs unfolds either because the owners elect to do hospice care with assistance from a vet or the dog has a fast-moving illness that catches them off guard (the vet may be unavailable when the dog passes).

It is always best to be prepared. Most towns and cities have emergency vets on staff 24/7. Many vets now offer house calls. There is even a new franchise company called Lap of Love that specializes in vets offering hospice care and humane euthanasia at home.

5. Reduced Mobility

As a dog nears death, he or she will become less mobile. The dog may start getting weak and no longer have enough strength to get up. Their legs may start giving out or they may have trouble climbing stairs and have difficulty navigating slippery floors. As things progress, the dog may no longer be able to get up and walk around; some may also struggle to lift their heads.

How can you help your dog?

Provide non-skid flooring. Some dogs require assistance getting around. There are several mobility harnesses, slings, carts, and wheelchairs available nowadays. A towel or blanket placed under a dog's belly may come in handy to help support his or her weight. As your dog no longer gets up to potty or drink, place some incontinence pads underneath them and offer water as needed as long as the dog can swallow.

6. Decreased Thirst

Water and food provide energy and hydration and are meant to sustain life, not death. It is normal for dying dogs to want only soft foods and liquids such as bone broth or water.

  • Loss of the Swallow Reflex: As the dog advances towards death, the ability to swallow gradually reduces. Dogs may be seen struggling to chew hard foods like kibble and they may cough and choke on solid foods. As the dog's digestive system starts to get weaker, eating solid food becomes uncomfortable. Dogs may no longer walk to the water bowl as usual.

How can you help your dog?

If a dog is mobile and able to swallow, ensure easy access to food and water. If the dog is in a weakened state, caution is needed when offering water. Forcing water down a dog's throat if the dog lacks the ability to swallow may cause choking and aspiration pneumonia. If your dog is on medications, dehydration may potentiate their effects and cause liver damage or similar organ damage. Consult with your vet for instructions to avoid side effects.

7. Incontinence

This refers to both bladder and bowel incontinence. Incontinence may occur due to a lack of sphincter control; the dog may soil easily because he or she is weak and can no longer get up and move around as he used to. As the dog stops eating and drinking, accidents will occur less frequently considering that gastrointestinal functions are starting to shut down.

How can you help your dog?

Keep pads under your dog if he or she is no longer mobile and clean up messes as soon as you can. The failure to clean up messes may lead to sores caused by waste irritating the skin.

8. Restlessness

Dog owners may notice their dog becoming restless. It's important to understand whether or not this is part of the natural process or whether this is an indication of discomfort either due to pain or something else that needs to be addressed.

  • Change in Behavior: Dogs may pant, get up, and change resting spots frequently, lick their paws, or vocalize.
  • Positioning: A dog that is unable to walk and lays down most of the time may be trying to communicate a need to drink, relieve themselves, or a need to be repositioned. Dogs, like humans who are bedridden, may develop bed sores and pain if they lie on the same side for hours on end. It's important to turn these dogs every 2–4 hours as needed. This is a two-person job; one person should hold the front legs and the second person should hold the rear legs while the dog is gently turned from one side to the other.

How can you help your dog?

Determine whether your dog is too hot or cold, whether they are thirsty or need to be turned. Keep calming aids on hand if needed. Talk to your dog softly and use a gentle touch.

Animal hospice accepts that it is the pet owner’s ethical and legal right and responsibility to decide whether the terminally ill animal will die by euthanasia or by hospice-supported natural death. Animal hospice does not accept a pet owner’s decision to allow a pet to die without euthanasia unless effective measures are in place to alleviate discomfort under the care of a licensed veterinarian. Such practices are considered unethical and inhumane.

— American Animal Hospital Association

9. Pain

It is not unusual for a dying dog to experience pain, so dogs owners may have pain relievers on hand as prescribed by the vet. Dogs that are unable to swallow may require drugs given by injection. These can be provided by a vet specializing in hospice care. Homeopathic remedies in pellet form may be suitable to ease some discomfort and can also be delivered as a mouth melt.

How can you help your dog?

Have your vet check on your dog and keep quick-acting pain meds handy.

10. 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.

Gum color is a good indication of overall health or illness in dogs.
Gum color is a good indication of overall health or illness in dogs. | Source

11. 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. If the blood vessels aren't vascularized and oxygenated well, changes in color may be observed:

  • 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 a PCV (a hematocrit level) to asses 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.

12. Cool Body

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, there is no evidence to suggest that pain suddenly intensifies during active dying.

— American Animal Hospital Association
Many studies reveal that animals experience grief when another animal family member passes.
Many studies reveal that animals experience grief when another animal family member passes. | Source

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 each and every emotion helps to aid in the healing process. Here are the five stages of grief:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 in a healthy manner.
  3. 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 can be spared of a terminal diagnosis.
  4. Depression: Depression occurs near or shortly after death. The owner may feel apathetic towards normal activities or unable to take care of themselves. Intense sadness is commonly associated with depression.
  5. 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 find a way to live and continue to love in the present.

Anticipatory grief is common when dealing with terminal illness.
Anticipatory grief is common when dealing with terminal illness. | Source

Why Is My Dog Acting Fine If He or She Is Dying?

Death generally unfolds following several milestones, but not all dogs will stop at each milestone. Some dogs may skip some or go through them very quickly, while others may take months to reach the end of their journey. It's important, therefore, to recognize that none, some, or all of the changes described above may be observed.

You may stumble on some dogs who remain active, eating, and up on their feet up to their final day, while others may be sluggish and sleep for hours on end in their final weeks. There are no rules set in stone.

Some dog owners report a surge of energy a few days prior to a dog's death. The dog suddenly walks or eats and appears to have more energy. As pleasant as this is, it's often short-lived and not a sign of getting better, rather, it's often a sign of nearing death—the signs of dying return and are often more pronounced.

What to Know About Death and Transition

After a dog displays some or several of the signs described above, death takes place. Sometimes muscle twitching may be observed immediately after death. Breathing or gasping may be noticed too; it's not to get oxygen though, but a reflex of the nerves. These bodily reactions are part of the natural event of dying and should not be interpreted as suffering.

The bladder or bowels may empty. Diarrhea may seep out. Keeping towels under the dog may absorb messes. The eyes of a dead dog remain open. After a few minutes, it's normal for the cornea to assume a glassy appearance. Death rattle is not as common in dogs as it is in humans.

How to Confirm If Your Pet Has Died

Death is usually confirmed by using a stethoscope and listening for lack of a heartbeat, but what is death? Death is the collapse of the dog's cardiovascular system, which translates into the failure of oxygen delivery to the tissues, cells, and vital organs of the body. It's the end of the journey.

Death in dogs may occur naturally or through injection of euthanasia solution by the vet. Most dogs are euthanized by a vet, but more and more owners are now electing hospice care for their dogs with the assistance of a vet. Hospice care doesn't mean that euthanasia is never considered. On the contrary, it is considered as a last option should the dog be in unmanageable pain.

It's important that dog owners remain in constant contact with their vets during this time and that they keep injectable pain relievers on hand should the dog no longer be capable of taking pills by mouth. Work with a vet that specializes in hospice care to make sure your dog is comfortable as much as possible throughout the process.

Death is quite a journey. It is part of life and sadly it's one that all of us dog owners will eventually have to face at one time or another. As the saying goes though, "forewarned is forearmed." Being acquainted with the dying process in dogs offers an important advantage.

What Should I Do If My Dog Dies at Home?

In an ideal situation, your veterinarian will be with you at the time of your dog's passing. 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 be of 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, on blankets, or on a 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 take place 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.

References

  • AAHA/IAAHPC End-of-Life Care Guidelines. American Animal Hospital Association (2016).
  • Peaceful: The Quality of Dying Checklist for Hospice-Supported Natural Dying. GRACE Animal Hospice Consortium.
  • Ball, L. When Your Dog Has Cancer: Making the Right Decisions for You and Your DogBook.
  • Van de Poll, Wendy. My Dog Is Dying: What Do I Do?: Emotions, Decisions, and Options for Healing. Center for Pet Loss Grief. March 2, 2016.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • 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 which is is often produced in the GI tract when it is 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. All in all though, 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.

  • Where should we prepare to take the dog’s body once she has passed and how much does it cost?

    If you are planning to do cremation, several of the companies will come to your home to pick up the body. Costs may obviously 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 if you live in town, these may be considerably lower. And then private cremation was $215. The cremation costs vary based on a pet's weight, so this is 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.

  • Is my female dog's black diarrhea and gas a sign 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 who have serious blood clotting disorders or bleeding cancers. If you are seeing 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 be indicative of anemia which can be seen in dogs with several conditions such as bleeding cancers (a common one is 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 in shock from this and become weak and lose appetite. If your dog has white gums and is not eating or drinking, please see your vet at your earliest convenience. 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.

  • From the list of 12 signs that a dog may be dying, my doh only has one of them which is 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?

    This can simply be a back problem or a hip problem or some other orthopedic issue, commonly seen in dogs who are aging. Have your dog see the vet. Your vet can prescribe pain relievers that can help her mobility. It's very good that she is eating and drinking.

© 2018 Adrienne Janet Farricelli

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    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      12 days ago

      Rhonda, I think you should have your sweet basset hound see the vet to gain a better understanding of what may be afflicting her. There are chances this might be something that can be treatable, such as old dog vestibular disease which causes dogs to become dizzy, nauseous and lose their balance. Of course, many other things can be going on such a bout of pancreatitis, stroke, brain tumors, liver failure etc to just name a few. Many possibilities. Please have her checked out. Best wishes.

    • profile image

      Rhonda 

      12 days ago

      My dog is a 13 year old Bassett hound. She has a lot of these symptoms. She had a really good day yesterday. But this morning she had thrown up and solid all in her cage. Today she will not eat or drink and has stayed in her cage most of the day. This morning her pupils were very large. She has a glazed look, and when you call for her she looks everywhere but where I am. She has been walking funny (loss of rear end function) puking and diarrhea. She had eaten rice and hamburger for a couple of days. But she will not touch anything now. Is she nearing death?

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      2 weeks ago

      I am so sorry for your loss. Parvo can cause bloody poopbd dogs to go downhill fairly fast, but so can other things like ingesting rat poison, human medications or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis to just name a few. Short of an autopsy, the real cause cannot be found. Has your vet provided any ideas based on your dog's history? Was he vaccinated against parvo? Please understand that feeling guilt, regret etc are all emotions that are parts of the grieving process. "What ifs" are a daily burden as we mourn. You can read more about this in this article on the stages of grief when losing a dog, https://pethelpful.com/pet-ownership/The-Stages-of...

    • profile image

      Cole Lowthian 

      2 weeks ago

      My dog is puking

    • FROIDELYN Docallas profile image

      FROIDELYN Docallas 

      2 weeks ago

      Our 6month old Jack Russell terrier did not want to eat on Sunday

      By Monday, he was being lethargic, and he poops a reddish liquid. I tried to make him eat but he wouldn't so i used syringe to make him drink water with sugar, antibiotics and syrup vitamins. When my husband came home, he made a mixture of water and activated charcoal and fed it to our dog. Our dog then appeared to be fighting- he walks and moves around- so we thought maybe it will not be so much of an emergency and we will bring him to the vet the next day.. But the next morning, he wouldn't get up.. He wouldn't open his eyes and wouldn't move at all.. He was breathing very weakly though, but when my husband dropped some liquid in his mouth, he was still able to swallow it. Few minutes later, he pooped a reddish liquid while he is unconscious. My husband was uncertain if it's still wise to bring him to the vet, he says, "he's dying, we will just be wasting money and time". I stil forced him though, but on their way to the vet, he called and told me the dog is already dead. Eventually, he burried him. Until now, i still can't move on.. Was our dog really already dead at that time? Or is it possible he was just on a very serious health condition but we could have saved him? My husband gets angry when i tell him he just gave up on our dog just because he doesn't want to waste money (I really hoped he brought the dog to the vet and let them declare if it's really already dead).. What could have really happened to our dog? We suspect it's parvo virus, but we're just so shocked by how things went so fast.. Please enlighten me for me to settle my mind.. And so i could become more aware with what to do with his mother who was always with him in the cage... Thank you very much in advance for your response..

    • profile image

      Judy Weikum 

      2 weeks ago

      A year ago my dog started showing signs of her dying. Some days she seemed totally fine. 3 months ago I could have sworn she was going to dies by the next morning. She had not eaten for two days. That morning she wanted to eat and wanted to play fetch. Things have been back to normal until last week. All signs came back. I feel like a 24 hour care giver.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      3 weeks ago

      Blossoms momm, I am very sorry your dog is dying. Providing hospice care to our dogs is a very trying time and it can very emotionally draining to endure. I hope you have emotional support from family and friends.

      To answer your question based on the courses I took on hospice care, there is no set time-frame. Dying is a very personal, individual process with no rules set in stone. The goal of hospice care in dogs and humans is neither to prolong life nor hasten death, but to make sure the individual is comfortable and not in pain.

      Something to point out is that, sometimes when an animal or person is dying, they go through a sort of recharging effect, responsible for altering body chemistry and producing a mild sense of euphoria. Many take this as the person or animal getting better, but this is only temporary and often occurs when death is around the corner. Shortly, after the dog may get cold, start breathing heavily and sometimes gasping (not trouble breathing, agonal breathing which is the body's normal response to shutting down).

      As mentioned in the article, hospice care is important to ensure the dog is not in any pain and comfortable. It sounds like you do not have any hospice care helpers in your area. You may look for a mobile vet or ask your vet to see your dog (expect them to suggest euthanasia), or if you desired support for hospice care, you can see if you have a Lap of Love hospice veterinarian in your area or you can contact the Spirits in Transition helpline, but they emphasize that collaboration with a local veterinarian is important to ensure the comfort of your animal. : https://spiritsintransition.org/find-support/

    • profile image

      Blossoms Momm 

      3 weeks ago

      Hi. My best dog ever is actively dying for a week now. How long might this take? I don't think she is in pain, but she might just be stoic? She is almost 12, a Rottie mix. Her breath was ice cold two days ago, but now its warm again, the breast tumor seems to have vanished (it was 1.2 cm a week ago) which is odd. Vets couldn't biopsy given her age, but assume tumor may have infiltrated kidney? (Can't take her to vet, accross the street, because she weighs 75 pounds). She hasn't eaten since Tuesday, but still drinks water whenever she raises her head (laying on pads). There is no hospice care around here, but I'm honestly confused. She has had the twitches, incontinence, can't stand etc but she has warmed up and can still wag her tail and give me kisses. Any advice on how long this will take, and pain signs would help. She doesn't cough, vomit, and her breathing is still coming easy. No panting which would be a sign of pain (are there any other signs?). Gums/tongue still bubble gum pink.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      7 weeks ago

      Hi Vickie, you comment got cut off. Can you please post again? Are you asking if your dog had a bowel blockage?

    • profile image

      Vickie c kent 

      7 weeks ago

      My dog dyed he started to caughting breathing heavily

      His breath smell. Like poop loop not eating not pooping in the end poop was bubbles out of the nose and mouth.did he have a bowel

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      3 months ago

      I would suggest seeing the vet sooner or see another vet altogether. I see no reason to wait and monitor for 5 days when bloodwork can be done right away to get some hints of what may be going on. Nose bleeds can be serious in some cases as they can be triggered by ingestion of rat poison and autoimmune diseases. Of course, there are also nosebleeds occurring from less serious issues (like a foreign body in the nose or an injury) but in those cases, usually the nose bleed comes from only one nostril.

    • profile image

      Lucky 

      3 months ago

      my shih tzu suddenly got his nose bleed. what does it mean? please help me. already visited a vet, and advise us to monitor it for 5 days.. if there is still blood on nose we have to have him a cbc.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      4 months ago

      Tauler, unfortunately only your vet can answer this based on your dog's medical history and physiological signs. If you cannot go to a vet anymore due to financial issues,consider that Care Credit can help out dog owners at difficult times with no interest for several months.

    • profile image

      tauler 

      4 months ago

      I can't go to a vet anymore so I hope someone can help me. My Yorkie has diabetes and is on insulin. This is the second day of her having a fever, shivering, weakness. I've been trying to keep her comfortable by cooling her down and keeping her hydrated. She still eats and drinks but that's all she does. Do you think she is dying and what can I do to make things easier for her.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      4 months ago

      Ash, so sorry you are going through such a tough time. Preparing is always a good idea as we never know when we may lose them.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      4 months ago

      Dear Candy, it is difficult to say. A vet should assess your dog. There are appetite stimulants that can turn helpful. Prednisone helped both my dogs when they started getting picky eating.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      4 months ago

      Dear Michelle, many dog owners feel this way and this emotional state is called "anticipatory grief." Here is my article on it. https://pethelpful.com/pet-ownership/Anticipatory-...

    • profile image

      Ash 

      4 months ago

      My 13 year old boxer is at home palliative with heart failure, his breathing has changed where he is breathing from his hind quarters, his behaviour has also begun to change he went out to our garden and went and lay behind a very small space behind his kennel, we have a young family who adore him should we be preparing them

    • profile image

      Candy Thomas 

      4 months ago

      My 11 yr old rottie has been diagnosed w/ bone cancer in November 2018. He's now refusing food, only wanting to eat hot dogs. He's recently developed a 'hot spot' on his upper leg which isn't getting better or any worse on the cephalexon. Is it safe to assume he's succumbing to the cancer?

    • profile image

      Michelle 

      5 months ago

      I got Ginger, a beagle mix, in 2003. She was believed to be 1 or 2 then, so she is now 17 or 18 years old. She cannot walk down the stairs, but can still walk up them. She has a limp and we give her doggy ibuprofen. She loves to eat and drinks well. We have covered the carpeted portion of the hallway upstairs with pee pads, because she can't always wait until we carry her outside. I love this dog beyond all reason, and I can't stop worrying about losing her. Our beagle-sheltie mix died several years ago and we still miss her. I'm grateful Ginger is still with us, but I cry when I realize our time with her is without a doubt limited. I feel like every day is a gift and I just can't stop thinking about losing her. Anybody else feel grief before they even lose their doggo?

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      5 months ago

      Teresa, so sorry to hear your dog has cancer. Cancer cachexia is what causes dogs with cancer to get thin despite eating.

      It is hard to say whether the eye changes you are seeing is related to the cancer advancing or other changes in the eyes seen in older dogs and known for causing haziness such as lenticular sclerosis or cataracts.

      Sometimes, a side effect of cataracts takes place and it's known as uveitis. Uveitis causes inflammation of the iris and can sometimes make blue eyes appear brown.

      Another possibility is that redness of bleeding within the eye may cause blue eyes to look brown due to the red overlapping the blue.

      Seeing your vet may be your best bet to get an idea of how she is doing overall and what may be causing this eye change.

    • profile image

      Teresa 

      5 months ago

      My Great Dane is 12 years old with stag 4 mass cancer, she is terribly thin but eats ok not great but ok. She has become very weak, and is having a hard time walking and staying standing. But her eyes are crystal blue and she is deaf, but in the last 2 days her eyes have become foggy And now a brown color. Is she getting close to leaving me?

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      5 months ago

      Jeff flowers, there can be a variety of problems that may be causing the signs you are seeing. A common cause for dogs to have paws that feel cold to the touch and weak and not eating is some type of cancer that causes internal bleeding (spleen rupture, liver rupture), but so can a variety of disorders known to cause reduced blood flow such as it may happen with circulation issue due to heart problems. Only your vet can truly help find out what's going on. Some dogs recover from this others keep worsening and decline. Pale gums and pale tongue often accompany these signs.

    • profile image

      Jeff Flowers 

      5 months ago

      We have a German Shepard who will be 14 on July 17th, Her hind legs are slowing down and hard for her to get up on sofa and up steps, we spoon feed her since she was born out of a can, thats the only way she can eat or everything comes back up, Lately she has not been eating or drinking anything, her front paws are cool to the touch, and just lays around Just wanted to know what this means

    • puffin123 profile image

      jason 

      5 months ago from home

      thanks for the information and I am very sorry to hear that.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      5 months ago

      Annie, your story is bittersweet and very touching.Thanks for sharing. She woke you up to say goodbye and stay in the comfort of your lap one very last time. You must have had a very strong connection.So sorry for your loss.

    • profile image

      Annie Wiswall 

      6 months ago

      My 12 yr old dog Soffee an English Springer Spaniel woke me up at 12:10 am , then i asked her if she wants to go out to pee, instead, she lay down on my lap and she was breathing hard, in just 5 mins.she passed away :( it was a very long night...but so thankful she woke me up and i was with her when she took her last breath..

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      6 months ago

      So sorry for your loss. Alex was very lucky to have you. Cherish all the great memories. He was wonderful dog.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      6 months ago

      Abbie, sounds like something that needs investigation with a vet. Perhaps your dog has severe arthritis or intervertebral disc disease or some sort of degeneration of the nerves. Please see your vet.

    • profile image

      My.  

      6 months ago

      I am going to use the beautiful theme Remember. Me. It brings tears to my. Eyes and with the passing. Of my dog Alex. This suits him Alex was 14 yrs old and sadly he pass while I was there. People tend to say he,s healthy & happy in Heaven but I want to see him with me it may sound selfish but That,s how much I love this dog and I haven’t Shed tears in a long time but Alex is my heart when it beats it,s Alex there,s. A space in my heart that only. Alec could fill

    • profile image

      I will always love Alex 

      6 months ago

      Last night I loss my best friend my love Alex. this is the first time I witness my dog”s Passing. now I realize what all Alex went thu I had read about we knew the end was near so we went to the hospital and there is when he pass and it has been countless tears because I Loss my very best friend

    • profile image

      Abbie 

      6 months ago

      Hi, West highland terrier is 15 years old, a few months ago he had a bad turn which has made his back legs stiff and he is now unable to get up the stairs, also he seems to be soiling himself in his bed during the night, what do you think this is? Thanks

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      6 months ago

      Fonzie, so sorry for your loss. It's so tough losing them. Sending you my deepest condolences.

    • profile image

      Fonzie 

      6 months ago

      Hello dog peoples, my dog angel is gone she's really gone. It happened so within 3 days of her not eating nor drinking. It's so so sad

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      7 months ago

      Paulette, so sorry you are in this situation. It's tough deciding what is best for our dogs, but we must remember that no decision is ever wrong as we make it out of love and what we think is best for our dogs.

    • profile image

      Paulette Risher 

      7 months ago

      Thank you for this compassionate and informative post. I believe that the chemo we are giving one of my rescue dogs is having only marginal benefits and she is not long for this world. It is good to have some concrete information because I need both heart and head at this time.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      8 months ago

      Ksyusha, so sorry about your loss. I too witnessed the effect of vaccines on the body with my senior Rottweiler who compelled me to write this article about the dying process in dogs.

      She got her rabies vaccine at the age of 10 and then 3 months later was diagnosed with cancer. I tried to fight against having her vaccinated but no vet would give me a waiver and here it's the law. Didn't make it better that that year there were several cases of rabies from skunks and bats. I tried very hard, with no result. And this is something I would always feel guilty about. It just seems that when we lose our dogs there's always something we blame ourselves for.

      If it helps, please note that dying with eyes open is normal in dogs and it happens in euthanasia too. It's due to lack of nerve signals requesting the muscles to keep the eyes open. My dog died too with eyes open as she looked up and took several gasps (very normal, happens in humans too) prior to dying.

      My husband was with her, petting her lovingly and I think she just wanted to look at him for a very last time before going. Again, so sorry for your loss. May Fluffy's loving memories help you during this hard time. Your love for him was very strong and I am sure he felt it until his very last breath.

    • ksyusha2 profile image

      ksyusha2 

      8 months ago

      I lost my dog my beloved shih tzu boy Fluffy on Valentine’s this year. We had ups and downs healthwise for the last two years since he turned 9 years old and his immune system started acting up after vaccinations, dewormers or antibiotics. I pulled him out of that twice in 2017 and 2018. This year we last the battle. Didn’t want to eat or drink in the morning and couldn’t stand. I checked his gums they were pale white vs pink the previous evening. I rushed him to the vet and she said he won’t survive.. severe anemia.. red blood cell count got way too low and I should consider euthanasia soon may be tomorrow. Now thinking back a month later I really wish I’d have change that day but it’s too late..

      She gave him prednisone shot and antibiotic shot and I took him home and scheduled inhome euthanasia for the next day. My husband was flying in early morning to be with us. What happened next I wish I’d never experienced but it was the absolutely worst day of my life. I understand now how stupid I was to plan for something that we have no control of..

      Fluffy started rapidly getting worse around 8 pm.. he started having trouble breathing I can’t even describe how much I loved that dog and may be because of that I was in such a shock just concentrating on having him put to sleep in the morning instead of acting immediately.. He couldn’t breathe, his lungs collapsing I literally heard it and finally his heart almost jumped out of his chest in the end.. And then 5 or 6 gurgling sounds, looked up and he was gone.. with eyes open.. I’ll never forget it.. It wasn’t peaceful at all.. What’s more I realized on the next day that there were probably vets on call who could’ve come to our house and it didn’t have to end this way.. I was just so shocked on that day and nobody guided me really.. The only thing I’m not feeling guilty about is that I decided not to put him to sleep at the vet’s office it would be even worse.. baby Fluffy always hated vets..

      As someone who just experienced this horrible death.. dear pet owners.. make a plan of action ahead.. write down numbers and play different scenarios before this happens.. I wasn’t ready and I feel guilty for letting both of us go through this on his last day..

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      9 months ago

      Beth Cross, so sorry for your loss. Having lost my dog last August, I wanted to share my personal experience along with what helped in the last days. I attended two wonderful courses on hospice care which prepared me to a higher level on all the possible outcomes and that to me was a tremendous help.

      I wanted to share about the process whether dog owners decide to do euthanasia or hospice. After working for a vet, I have seen my fair share of euthanasia appointments but also natural deaths when dealing with emergencies. In any cases, forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes.

      Going through losing one dog and then possibly another one later on is devastating. We made the mistake of getting two littermates. So much joy when they are young, so many heartaches as they get older.

      All we can hope is that we are given a little break in between at least to recover. Six months have passed and I hope to have my other dog for at least another year because I feel I haven't recovered yet. But I think we are really never ready to take another loss. All we can do is cherish each day.

    • profile image

      Beth Cross 

      9 months ago

      I am so sorry for all of your losses. It is extremely hard to deal with, and like Trisha and Rodric said, not everyone understands or realizes what kind of loss it is. They are not "just pets" or "animals"...They are a part of your life and FAMILY. We love and take care of them the best we can and they love us and take care of us too. I have already lost several pets over my life. 1st was our dog Maggie when I was about 6 years old. My dad had her since she was a pup before I was born and she was the 1st pet I ever knew, loved, and lost. I was very young and at that age you don't fully understand death but it still hurts. I still have a framed picture of her. When I was about 9, we moved and started a small farm with the usual ducks, chickens, 2 horses, and sheep. We grew a little bit but stayed small for the most part. We got a ram so that he could breed with our female sheep. His name was Thor. He liked to headbutt people and me at 1st as well. But over time, he stopped trying to headbutt me. Probably because I was the 1 that fed all the animals and cleaned their stalls. When the females were pregnant and about to deliver, we would have to take Thor to a different pen on the other side of our farm. At 1st, I would use a bucket of grain to get him out of the ewes pen and have him follow me to the other pen. Eventually, I didnt need the grain bucket anymore. He would just follow me. I would actually open the gate and he would come thru and then stand there waiting for me to lock it up. Then we would take our walk down to the other pen. We had 2 other gates to go thru and every time he would go thru 1 and then just stand there waiting for me to lock it. He was such a sweetheart. It was funny to me because if my Dad, Step-mom, or sister went around him, he would try to headbutt them still...unless they had grain. During the summer, we had fruit trees and i would sometimes feed him plums and he was so cute the way he took the whole plum in his mouth and could eat it and then spit the pit out. My sister and I always got a kick out of that. I still remember when he passed away, like it was yesterday even though it was 23yrs ago. It was so sudden and unexpected!! I went to feed him and I didnt see him out waiting for me like usual and I got a real sick feeling in my stomach. I knew something wasnt right...and then I found him. I dont think my dad n step-mom ever understood why I was so hurt. I still miss Thor. When I was 16, I went across the U.S. to live with my mom. She had a dog named Abby. Such a big Sweetie!!! I grew so attached to her and several years later, she got really sick and passed away. It was really hard to watch, especially because the Vet had given her some medication that counter-acted with something else and was deadly. It took her so fast...but not before making her so very ill. Abby was so gentle. Dont get me wrong, if someone would've tried to hurt 1 of us, she would've protected us. Otherwise, she was just a big sweetie baby. 1 time she had a false pregnancy n actually tried stealing a few kittens from 1 of the outside cats, and she was trying to care for them. We couldnt let her keep them of course n returned them to their mom without incident. Then after I had children and got together with my husband, we bought a yellow lab named Cali. Weve had her now since she was 6wks old and she is 12 n 1/2 yrs old now. She has some tumors and she's not as quick as she used to be. Im trying to prepare myself, and thats how I came across this article. I wish I would've seen it several years ago though. When Cali was just past 1 yrs old, I found and brought home a stray dog. He was big and beautiful and after looking into those big brown eyes, i couldn't just leave him. I knew he needed to be a part of our family. I didnt always bring strays home, but something was different with him. Maybe it was the story in his eyes, or maybe it was the pregnancy hormones getting the best of me, considering I was 8 months pregnant!! Either way, i had connected with him and couldnt resist. My husband almost freaked when he 1st saw him, because he was so big n black n fluffy and almost scary looking at 1st glance. He was a Newfoundland n Black Lab mix. He looked like a black bear!! Which is why we named him Bear Bear. But within a few mins, my husband had fallen in love with our beautiful Bear too. We brought him in cautiously to meet our kids and Cali, and he got along great!!! He even slept in the kids room on their bedroom floor that 1st nite. After our daughter was born, he started spending most nites in our room next to her bassinet. When she would be in the living room in her baby swing, he would be laying right next to it. We noticed that Bear seemed like he was older because of how he had a harder time getting up fast from laying down. So when we took him to the vet for the 1st time, we were shocked to find out that he was only 2 or 3 yrs old!! But then came the news that he had 2 different types of Lyme Disease. We got the medication n treated him for it, but the effects never go away completely. We did notice a major change in him though. He was able to move a lot better and acted more his age. He would follow the kids around when they were outside playing, and never let them out of his sight. We loved him so very much and still do. He and Cali would go out and play and run around on the 16 acres we lived on at the time. When we moved, they would go out and play with the 1 neighbor dog. It was so cute. I could watch out the kitchen window and see the 3 of them meet up, sniff eachother for a minute, n then off they all went to go play and run in the field and the woods. As they got older though, I noticed he would still play with Cali and the neighbor dog Lucy...but he couldnt keep up with them as much. Then we slowly started noticing he was in pain more and more n started getting grumpy and snippy when the kids walked too close while he was laying down resting. He was fine with them any other time, but he was just in pain. I dreaded so when it came time to "make the decision". N it was 1 of the hardest things I ever had to go thru and watch. Thats why I wish I couldve seen this article before that. Then maybe I wouldve been more prepared for what happened after they gave him the meds to put him to sleep. I had his head on my lap the whole time, and we talked with him n cried n pet him so he wasnt alone. But theres certain things that i may have been better prepared for had I read this article. That was a sad, sad day. I knew he wasnt in pain anymore though. Your article also talks about other pets noticing when a pet has passed away, and I found out from how Cali acted. I had a feeling she would notice, because dogs definitely notice change. I could tell she was depressed for a while after Bear passed. She didnt eat as much and her whole demeanor changed. She was sad and missed him too. There was also a certain area in the yard that she absolutely refused to go. It was 1 of the spots that her n Bear would play together. She would not come across it for anything!!! Even if i was standing there with a treat...she wouldnt come. It was like an invisible line she wouldnt cross. She would go the whole way around. Eventually, she started doing ok with it n could walk around there again. But it took several months!!! Now, Cali is older and has little tumors, and just doesnt move around as quickly as she used to. I hate going thru this part, but all the years of companionship and love are so worth it. I just dont like to see them in pain. Its really hard when you have to decide if their quality of life is still good and outweighs the bad days. I still see moments of happiness and some excitement here and there...but i can also see she's tired too. She did give us a litter of pups a few years ago and we found homes with family and friends for all the pups except 1. His name is Zeus, and he stayed with us. So now i not only dread having to decide when its Cali's time, but also how Zeus is going to take it. I just want to say Thank you for writing the article and thank you to everyone who shared something. Im so sorry for your losses.

    • profile image

      Michele 

      9 months ago

      Thank you so much for writing this article. It has really clarified for me what to look out for as my old geezer dog ages more. (He’s an Aussie Cattle Dog who will be seventeen at the end of May, so he’s about 100 in dog years already.) I know his death is coming, but he still seems to enjoy life, so I’m just here to make sure he has what he needs. He sleeps a lot, often looks like he’s off in outer space, has urinary incontinence (he also drinks a lot, despite having “the bloodwork of a puppy”—the vet’s words, so that contributes to it in large part, I think), and it takes him awhile to get up when he’s lying down. On the flip side, he still eats, he enjoys attention and treats, and he likes to go on walks and frolic outside. So I’m trying some Senilife as well as some Deramaxx on him to see if that gives him an even better quality of life. But I will be keeping this article and the related resources handy so that I know ahead of time how to help my dog as he declines and in his final days and hours. The ability to discern how and when my dog will die, and how to respond, means a lot to me.

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      Peggy 

      9 months ago

      My sweet Bella died on January 8th 2019. She was a beautiful 13 year old Golden Retriever that we rescued from an army post pound at 6 weeks old. I am totally devastated. I cant stop crying. I prayed to God that when her time came he would take her at home quickly and thats how it happened. I miss her all the time.

    • Marisaupa profile image

      Maria Sol 

      9 months ago

      When a beloved family pet passes away due to age or extended illness, it is very difficult emotionally. After all, they are a member of the family, a part of your inner circle.

      However, when death arrives in that way you have time to prepare — to begin to make peace with it and that will help you cope with the emotional pain when it actually happens.

      What is more difficult to deal with is when a pet passes away suddenly. A sudden illness that was not diagnosed in time, an encounter with a poisonous animal, being run over, etc.

      I had a cat that was poisoned by a heartless individual. I did not recognize the symptoms early enough and by the time that I got her veterinary care the damage to her renal system was extensive.

      I was told that if within 24 hours she did not show signs of improvement that I should consider putting her to sleep to prevent her from suffering needlessly as she would get progressively worse. Sadly, my beloved kitty did not survive those 24 hours. She died at home, next to me.

      Her final moment of life involved a meow — one similar to the ones she use to make when she was trying to alert me. As I petted her to try and comfort her I was looking straight into her eyes. I saw the moment when her body went limp and her pupils dilated. I knew my kitty was gone — that she no longer had to suffer with the pain.

      With my cat going from perfectly healthy 4 days prior, to showing signs of what I thought was a cat cold a day after that, and less than 36 hours from when it became evident that it was much more serious, I did not have time to prepare myself for losing her — much less to literally witness life leaving her body.

      Make the time with your furry friend count. If age is creeping up on the, be conscious that your time with time is running short. Give the both of you a chance to say your farewells to each other. Cherish them.

    • profile image

      John Hilliard 

      10 months ago

      I am disappointed you speak of homeopathic pain control. Homeopathy is simply the equivalent of sugar pills. It may work on susceptible humans, but days need real medicine from a licensed vet. Anything that has a label saying “not intended to” is bs.

    • profile image

      Jade 

      10 months ago

      I just want to say thank you Adrienne for this informative article. My pup Violet recently passed away naturally and peacefully at home with our family. She had been sick for a few months, but still in good spirits. A couple days before she passed, I was sensing something was different and spoke with our doctor about what signs to look out for, how will I know it’s time, and what the dying process is like. I wasn’t fully satisfied with the information I was given which made me turn to the internet. I read a few articles, but found yours to be the most informative. The next day, Violet made the decision to leave this world and because of this article I knew the signs, I didn’t panic, I didn’t question, and I knew exactly what to expect. Had I just went off the information from the vet or the other articles I had read, I don’t think I would’ve handled things the same way. I felt honored to be a part of such a beautiful experience; thank you for giving me confidence and peace of mind

    • profile image

      Trisha 

      10 months ago

      My 9 1/2 yr old German Shepard got really sick just before Christmas. Thankfully he’s on the mend but I can tell it’s taking a toll on him. Also I’m not sure how much of this recovery might be due to the prednisone he’s taking and not that he’s really getting better. I also cherish every day he’s with me. It’s wonderful to read how pet lovers feel. Not everyone gets it. I’m so sorry for your loss Joann. I hope you can make room in your heart to one day share your love with another dog looking for love and to love you.

    • profile image

      Karen Goettl 

      10 months ago

      My little Yorkie, Dan Dog, died 15 years ago. Now his replacement, Abbey, is dying of kidney failure. It’s brought up the pain of losing Dan compounded by seeing my little Abbey wasting away a little more each day. As hard as it is to go through this process of life and death, I know that I will eventually own another dog because the loneliest home is the one without a dog.

    • profile image

      Lane 

      10 months ago

      Joann, if I were you I would find him and hit him with a speeding bus, my dog got hit right outside a vet whe I was 10-11 and I am 13.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      10 months ago

      Joann, I am so sorry your dog died so suddenly from being run over from a car. This must be very difficult. Nothing prepares us from traumas as such. Know that replaying the sounds and sights of the accident are our mind's way of dealing with the trauma. With time, things get a little better although it will always hurt. I wished the driver was there to help you, it sounds like he/she was gone which is revolting. Sending you deep condolences..

    • profile image

      Joann Conner 

      11 months ago

      My dog HERBIE, was hit by a speeding car right in front of our house. We live in a subdivision, very quiet neivhborhood with small streets. Cars /people usually know to dri e slowly. It was dusk, and i called him to come home. He always wandered over to ,Pepper's house across the street from our house. He was doing what he always did,

      Running wide open whenever i called him. I called him home and one half of a second later, i heard the car. I knew before it happened. Then i heard him wail. It sounded just like "Maaa-Maaa". I cant stop hearing him. He died there at the edge of the road, right before my eyes. I was SCREAMING! SCREAMING FOR HELP! No one came. And just like that, he was gone.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony 

      11 months ago from Peoria, Arizona

      People do not realize that the death of a pet is a real emotional trauma. When Brandon died, I knew it before it was going to happen. He would not eat and he would not respond to me in any way. He would lie there blinking his eyes. His ears did not perk or and he did not wag his tail.

      I cried and begged Brandon to eat, but he would not. that happened 32 years ago when I was nine-years-old. It still makes me sad to this day. I have lost a child and my mother since then. Brandon still has a place in my heart.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      13 months ago

      Cindy, so sorry you are going through this. Best wishes for a peaceful passing for your beloved Tinkerbell.

    • profile image

      Cindy Butler 

      14 months ago

      I am trying to make the difficult decision.

      Your comments have helped me during this

      Part of my sweet Tinkerbell’s journey

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      15 months ago

      Hello Heidi, thanks for stopping by. My dog must have one of the most wicked illnesses as she has ups and downs and it feels like being on the worst roller coaster ride. One day she is picky eating, the next she's eating like crazy. One day she's weak, the next she gets up and walks in the kitchen checking what's cooking. I have been close to making the call, but then she surprises me and tells me it's not time. I embrace every moment with her and rejoice of being blessed with these bonus days, but am always scared of what's hiding behind the next corner. Thanks for thinking of me during these difficult times.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      15 months ago from Chicago Area

      Adrienne, this is truly one of the most difficult periods! I've been through it several times. While every one has been different in its own way, there are similarities.

      All of them quit eating. A few of them wanted rest and solitude in the coolness of the bathtub or near the doors to the outside. A couple were very restless.

      But it's weird. There always comes a point when we've just known it's time.

      I know you've been dealing with this. My thoughts are with you!

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