What Do Dogs Do When They Are About To Die

Death is inevitable. Just the thought of your dog dying is heartbreaking, but it is also a reality we have to face at one point or another. For instance, should it happen that your dog has been unwell for a while, knowing the signs that your dog is dying can help you care for your dog better in his last days, prepare for his comfortable and peaceful departure, and give you time to emotionally prepare for it.

Knowing the signs will also save you the anguish of second-guessing, at a time when you need to be doing everything in your power to make sure that his passing is graceful and painless. So what do dogs do when they are about to die? Here is a list of some common warning signs that your dog could be in his final days.

Loss Of Coordination

The closer a dog gets to his death, the less coordinated their movements become. This will progressively become worse to the point where there is no coordination at all and they cannot move around on their own. This could be due to cognitive impairment, physical weakness or both.

However, lack of coordination could be due to other causes such as a treatable ear infection or possible head trauma. Either way, it is never a good sign so be sure to consult with your veterinarian.

Prolonged Lethargy And Disinterest

This is one of the most common signs. If a dog is dying, he will often lay in one quiet spot with no interest in people, his toys or treats. He will seem extremely fatigued and may not be strong enough to get up or even lift his head.

This sign is hard to miss because this is not how dogs usually are. However, sometimes lethargy can be caused by other health issues. If you have ruled them out, preferably with the help of a vet, and the lethargy is prolonged, it could be time to say your final goodbyes.

Suppressed Appetite

The dog will completely lose the desire to eat. At this point, he will refuse even his favorite treats. He won’t drink water either. This is because, as he is nearing his death, organs are starting to shut down slowly, making him lose his digestive functions.

You could try to give him water in a turkey baster or a dropper, but at some point there’s only so much you can do. Again, lack of appetite does not always interpret to a dying dog. Always seek veterinary attention to eliminate other possible health issues first.

Digestive Trouble

The closer a dog gets to its death, digestive troubles become more apparent. This will begin with vomiting almost all the food they ate, because they are losing function in the digestive system as it shuts down. His stool will be loose, diarrhea, and his bathroom habits will be another indicator of how close he is. He will lose bladder and anal-sphincter control, and become incontinent.

Needless to say, he will not move to relive himself, his discipline and training notwithstanding. It is vital to keep his bedding clean and dry during times like these.

Labored Breathing

Towards death, dogs will take shallow breaths will long intervals in between. The usual resting rate of 22 breaths per minute could drop to 10 breaths per minute. The heart rate will also drop from a usual 100-130 beats per minute to 60-80 beats per minute and it could go lower. You will notice that the pulse is very weak too. His very last breath will be marked by a deep exhalation.


Twitching, shaking and involuntary muscle spasms can be observed due to loss of glucose. Body temperatures might begin to drop, and a heating pad for extra warmth will serve him well.

Ways To Comfort A Dying Pet

You can choose to euthanize him or let him pass away peacefully at home. If you choose the latter, here are some tips to comfort him during his last hours:

  • Make sure that he is not in any pain or suffering.
  • Talk to him softly and reassuringly. Pet him, tell him that you love him. Dogs can always pick up on emotions so it is important to keep yours in check, however hard it may be.
  • Use pet diapers or waterproof pads beneath your dog when he cannot go outside to relive himself.
  • Make food and water available, but do not force him to eat or drink.
  • Monitor him closely, and provide a warm, quiet and comfortable resting place.

Some of the signs above are pretty general, and you should always seek veterinary assessment and clarification. If you have reached the inevitable end, all you can do is be there for him and both of you will take comfort in that fact.