One day you bought a tiny little pup home. And soon, the little pooch became your best buddy. As the years went by, the bonding between you and your dog grew stronger. It accompanied you on your morning walks, kept you relaxed on stressful days, and entertained you with its playful tactics. However, someday you have to say goodbye to your dearest friend.
The saddest part of being a pet owner is realizing that your dog has a much shorter lifespan. On average, dogs can live for 10 to 13 years at most. Generally, small breeds tend to live longer than large breed dogs. Besides the species, the size and lifestyle of a dog are some factors that also affect its lifespan.
It is unlikely for a dog to pass away without any warning. If your canine friend is turning old or has been severely ill for a couple of months, his body will soon show signs that the end is just around the corner.
We understand that letting go of your beloved friend is upsetting, but surely you don’t want to make things difficult for him during his final days. Recognizing the symptoms will help you prepare for the final goodbye.
Being understanding and friendly can provide comfort and solace to your dog before his soul leaves the body.
The signs and symptoms discussed below may or may not be accurate for every other dog.
The duration of a dog’s lifespan relies on several aspects, including breed, size, lifestyle, and even genes. The symptoms may arise if your dog is younger and healthier due to an underlying health issue. So, discuss your pet’s condition with the vet before making any decision.
9 Signs Indicating That Your Dog Is Dying
Death is a painful experience, and witnessing your dog die is even more disturbing. Many dogs try to hide the fact that they are ill, which is a natural instinct. Besides, dying is an individual experience, even in dogs. The journey to the hereafter may start months or weeks before the actual death.
Your puppy’s requirements vary according to his age. Your dog’s psychological, behavioral, and physical changes imply that your canine friend has little time left. However, the symptoms may not appear in a similar pattern in every dog. But knowing the early signs of dying will allow you to provide comfort to your dog.
So, let’s discuss the signs and symptoms of a dying dog and see how you can support him during this time as a loving dog parent.
1. Social Isolation:
Dogs are naturally social animals. They love to be playful and stay active throughout the day. But a dying dog will avoid being socially active.
A dying dog won’t jump to greet you. The toys, the blankie, and even the little treats your canine friend once enjoyed with a wagging tail will seem less appealing. Slowly the dog will detach himself from his everyday routine, indicating that his quality of life has decreased.
As the dog’s lifespan ends, he will go outside to find a secret hiding spot to die. For instance, the dog will choose to stay in the barn. The solitary atmosphere of the barn will help the dog to remain calm and relaxed.
Respect your dog’s privacy. When the dog is sleeping or resting in quiet habitat, try to approach it quietly. Please give it a gentle pat on the back and reassure it in a friendly way. Adding a dog bed and blankets can also make your dog’s sleeping area comfortable. It will allow your dog to be at ease during his last days.
2. Lethargy And Fatigue:
We have always seen our dogs in perpetual motion. So, when the animal suddenly begins to act sluggish, prepare yourself for the goodbye.
Although being lethargic can be a sign of illness in young, healthy dogs. It is also not necessary that the dog who is feeling tired is about to die the next day. Sometimes dogs feel weak because of arthritis or diarrhea.
However, if the condition prolongs and the dog spends most of his time lying idly around the house, it clearly indicates that he has a short lifespan.
Unexplained lethargy is often an early sign of a dying dog. Each day, the dog will feel exhausted and drained. You will notice specific behavioral changes that will signify that death is now very close:
- Over time the dog that was always active and full of energy will start sleeping more and more.
- The dog won’t jump on its toes to greet you, nor will it enjoy the evening walks. Its pace would become slower, and it will quickly get tired.
- The dog will no longer move around; it will stop getting up to eat and drink.
- The dog will remain in its crate for hours at a time. It won’t even change its position during this time.
Avoid disturbing your dog even if he has been sleeping all day. As dogs begin to age, they lose strength in their muscles. The least you can do in this situation is set up in a quiet corner of the house for your dying friend. Make sure the spot is away from all the commotion and activity. Moreover, never intervene in your dog’s sleep. The more he sleeps, the better.
3. Changes In Appetite:
We stop eating our favorite meals when we fall ill or take medications. The same happens with dogs. Your canine friend will lose his appetite, and even the delicious treats that were his all-time favorite won’t spark hunger.
During the last stages of a dog’s lifespan, they either lose interest in food or become picky eaters. The dog will take an eternity to finish a simple meal bowl.
Reduced appetite is a part of aging. As the dog ages, his body no longer requires energy to stay active and energetic. And so the animal doesn’t look forward to eating meals multiple times a day. You may also notice a normal and abnormal appetite cycle in your dog during its last days.
Appetite changes are also a consequence of several other issues, such as;
- Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments cause your dog to feel nauseated. And when he is unhealthy, food becomes his resort for comfort.
- Certain terminal illnesses also directly impact a dog’s eating habits as well. Suppose your dog has been suffering from a mast cell tumor. The tumor released histamines which increase the acid production in a dog’s stomach, making it feels like throwing up.
Remember: Losing appetite is not always a direct indicator of death. If your dog is young and healthy, a decreased appetite may be due to stress, anxiety, or other underlying health issues. So, if your dog has been avoiding food for a few days, it’s time to visit the vet for a quick checkup.
You will undoubtedly feel sad when your dog is not feeding appropriately. Instead of giving him dog food and kibble, try giving him cookies and warmed-up meals. You can also hand-feed your dog when he no longer has the energy to eat on his own. Soft meals at short intervals are also an excellent way to feed your dog.
4. Weight Loss:
Weight loss is inevitable when your dog’s appetite is suddenly reduced. Besides changes in appetite, weight loss is also associated with certain diseases, such as kidney or liver failure. Senior dogs sometimes lose weight due to certain degenerative disorders such as chronic renal and hepatic insufficiencies and other malignancies.
Dogs suffering from cancer also undergo excessive weight loss. The dog loses their strong muscles, body mass, and stored fat. The condition is known as cachexia. Cancer cells usually consume a vast amount of a dog’s calories, leaving him weak and vulnerable.
The weight loss journey is either gradual or rapid, depending on your dog’s condition. But as soon as your dog begins to shed pounds, prepare yourself for the goodbye.
As a caring dog parent, seeing your dog getting thin and weak daily can be upsetting. You must consult a vet. He will prescribe a specialized diet that is high in protein and fat. He will also suggest some appetite stimulants to improve your dog’s condition.
5. Mobility Issues:
A dying dog will lose all his strength. The dog will become weak and stop roaming around the home. Simple things such as getting up on his legs, climbing stairs, and maintaining balance on slippery floors would become more challenging for the dog as his quality of life began to decrease.
Seeing your dog bundled up in a corner can be heartbreaking. But there are steps you can take to make him feel comfortable. Placing a blanket or towel under your dog will help him support his weight as he struggles to maintain his balance. You can also provide him with mobility harnesses, carts, and wheelchairs.
Incontinence is when someone loses control over his bladder or bowel movement. Like humans, dogs also lose control over their bladder when they begin aging. If your dog has become weak and cannot go outside the house to empty his bladder, he is on the verge of dying.
However, incontinence does not necessarily mean your dog is dying. In some cases, specific health problems, such as bladder infection, may also cause a dog to lose control over his bladder. Dogs also pee excessively when they are super excited or anxious. If your dog is healthy but still pees around the house, it’s best to have an appointment with the vet.
In a dying dog, weight loss and reduced appetite are usually followed by incontinence. Under such circumstances, the dog will become extremely weak, and with time, the gastrointestinal function of your dog will shut down entirely. The dog will lose control over its bladder, or the accidents will become less frequent (if it stops eating altogether).
Put incontinence pads under your dog to soak up the accidents. Leaving your dog lying in a dirty puddle can lead to other health issues. The dog may develop skin rashes and irritations, making the end even more painful. Thus, you should ensure that your puppy is neat and clean.
7. Breathing Problems:
Is your dog having difficulty in breathing? Your dog is getting old and weak if it’s not due to the changing season.
Labored breathing in an aging dog is a clear sign of his death. When a dog is about to die, its breathing pattern also changes. The dog will experience irregular or heavy breathing followed by short pauses. Breathing would become even more complicated if the dog is in pain.
The least you can do is allow your dog to rest and sleep in his crate.
8. Body Odor:
Burying your head into the soft furs of your dog has always been your way of relieving stress. But the hairs of a dying dog won’t feel the same. As death approaches your pet, his body won’t function normally, giving rise to foul odors and unusual smells.
With time, age will disturb the smooth functioning of your dog’s metabolism, causing oil to build up in the furs of the dog. Health issues like leaky bladder, kidney problems, and dental diseases will further strengthen the smell.
Give your dog a warm, gentle bath to minimize the smell. Wash their blankets, soft toys, and bedding to ward off the unusual smell. A bath will also help your dog feel fresh and relaxed.
9. Lowered Body Temperature:
Aging and sick dogs lose their ability to regulate their body temperature. Their body will become cold and hot rather quickly. When the dog draws its final breaths, its body temperature will fall instantly, and you will feel its paws getting cold.
If your dog’s body temperature is fluctuating due to the regional climate, you can easily comfort it using simple tactics. For instance, the dog feels cold if you live in a cold climate. Giving the dog hot water bottles, warm blankets, and heated beds can help raise the temperature of the dog’s body.
But if the final time of your dog is near, he needs to be adequately comforted. Keep him warm by giving him a warm light blanket.
What Should You Choose: Euthanasia Or Natural Death?
When death is near, the dog’s health will go down the hill rather quickly. He will show no sign of recovery, even after multiple visits to the veteran care. All these things indicate that it is time to bid farewell to your loyal companion.
Now, this is where a pet owner has to make the tough decision.
“Should you let your dog die a natural death or go for euthanasia to ease out the pain? ”
It usually depends on the circumstances and the condition of your pet. Letting your dog die naturally may cause him to suffer For weeks before finally burying your lifelong companion in your backyard.
However, euthanasia is a quick and painless way of letting your dog pass on. The dog will remain unconscious during the entire procedure and won’t feel a thing. You must schedule an appointment with the vet and take your dog to the clinic on time.
Pet parents whose dogs are in constant pain usually prefer euthanasia. They want to end the hardship of their dog, and instead of watching them suffer, they choose to let their dog go peacefully.
And finally, you can bury your dog in your backyard, where he can rest for eternity.