Anyone who has raised a dog will find it hard to deal with their dog passing away.
This is totally normal as your furry friend is part of your family and best friend. You have built a lifetime bond with them where you experienced a lot of situations with each other.
But, do dogs know they are dying and what to do about it? yes, dogs know that they are dying. They sense it through their strong sense of smell and know through feeling a change in the bodies that they are dying.
During their final days, you have to observe the signs to know if your dog is dying, take extra care of them, comfort them, and spend more time with them.
Why do dogs sense they are dying?
One of the explanations for why dogs can sense their death is that they have a heightened sense of smell.
They may be simply perceiving something such as sound, sight, or smell that humans won’t be able to perceive.
For example. dogs are able to detect a change in the smell that signals that they are dying.
Another explanation is that dogs are able to know when their bodies change to feel really bad. They will start to feel not alright and tire out easily.
They can actually recognize the difference between feeling sick and dying.
What are the signs that your dog is dying?
1.) Prolonged lethargy
This is one of the most common signs where your dog lies in a quiet spot that they don’t usually lie on. They are very tired and don’t want to do anything.
It’s important to rule out first any health issues that your dog may have before seeing it as a sign that they are dying.
If you have ruled out medical conditions and the lethargy seems to have last one day, it’s a sign that they are dying.
2.) Loss of interest
As your dog is closer to death, they will start to lose interest in what they love and makes them happy.
They will lose interest in people around them and the things that they enjoyed doing such as playing with their favorite toys and going on walks.
Both their energy and interest level will decrease so they don’t want to do anything.
Your dog may also stop responding to you or family members entirely. The reason that they act this way is that their brain functions shut down.
In some cases, they may experience mental confusion that causes them to appear detached.
It is important to know that your dog loss of interest doesn’t mean that they don’t love you rather they are experiencing symptoms that cause them to act this way.
3.) Loss of appetite
A dying dog will be reluctant to eat any food. No matter how much you offer them food, they will still not want to eat food or drink water.
Their loss of appetite signals that they are close to death. The reason for having this change in appetite is that their digestive system is shutting down so that they can’t experience feeling hungry or thirsty.
Your dog’s unwillingness to eat will lead them to lose weight.
Even if your dog manages to eat, they will still experience digestive problems such as vomiting after eating.
They won’t get all the nutrients that their body needs and won’t be able to stay hydrated from not being able to keep the water down.
To help your dog stay hydrated, try giving them water through a water dropper so they can get what they need.
Continue to offer your dog food and water without forcing them to eat and drink.
4.) Loss of bladder and bowel control
When your dog is dying, they lose control over their bladder and bowel leading them to eliminate accidentally whether urine or stool especially while they are lying down.
Regardless of whether your dog is trained effectively, they simply won’t have the energy to get up and go potty in the right spot. Instead, many accidents will happen.
So can you still help your dog? You won’t be able to stop your dog from eliminating with no control but you can clean the area that your dog soils in so they won’t get dirty and develop sores.
It’s a challenge to keep your dog’s area clean; however, it is necessary to ensure that they stay healthy. Always remain calm without getting frustrated at your dog because it’s not something that they can control.
5.) Loss of coordination
Towards the end of their life, your dog will experience loss of coordination in which they have trouble balancing themselves when they are standing up or walking.
They won’t have motor control over their bodies that they may even shake while laying down.
Keep objects that are in your dog’s surroundings away from them so they don’t bump into them and hurt themselves.
6.) Odd breathing
When your dog is dying, they will experience difficulty breathing. Their breathing will become uneven where there is a huge gap between inhaling and exhaling.
If your dog is showing this sign, they are more likely to be close dying.
If your dog is young and showing some of the signs, they may be sick and not dying. So you have to take your dog to the vet to check if they have any medical condition before concluding that they are dying.
If your dog is old in age and showing a combination of these signs, they may be dying. Your vet will perform tests on your dog to know whether they are sick or dying.
How to comfort a dying dog?
Because you can’t stop your dog from dying, the best thing that you can do is to offer them comfort in their final day.
Here are some of the things that you can do to comfort your dog:
1.) Stay close to them
Many dogs who are dying want as much attention and care that you can give; they need you to be close to them.
You can sit with your dog for long periods of time while petting and caressing them. Talk to them in a caring and soothing tone so they can feel your care and love in their final days.
Dogs feel and are influenced by your emotions so it can be very distressing to your dog when they feel your sadness.
So, you have to stay calm and show your dog care and love instead. Even if your dog isn’t responsive to you, you still got to show love and care.
They will feel it even when they are not responsive.
2.) Maintain regular activities as long as your dog is able to
Don’t stop the activities that your dog does such as walking and playing as long as they capable of doing these activities.
Even though their health is declining, they still enjoy having daily activities to engage in.
However, you have to never push them into doing these activities when they aren’t able to do them.
Carefully, observe how they are doing to know whether they are able to do these activities or not.
3.) Don’t introduce your dog to new places and people
Keep your dog in places where they are comfortable and avoid introducing them to new people and places so they won’t get too much stimulation and become distressed.
They already have mental confusion so adding them to a new environment will definitely cause them distress.
4.) Get your dog medication
When your dog has a terminal illness, you can give them medication that will help ease their pain.
Talk to your vet about the proper medication that your dog can take to ease their pain and symptoms such as shaking and vomiting.
However, you should know that medication won’t stop your dog from passing away rather it will only alleviate the pain and symptoms.
How to say goodbye to your dog?
Show your dog what they mean to you by sitting with them and petting them. Tell them you love them.
Show them gratitude for being the great friend that they have been. Spend more time with them providing them with all that they need while you take care of them.
Share with them the things that they love such as taking them to their favorite places such as the park. Feed them with their favorite food.
Basically, make them happy while they are in their final days.
Be ready to tell them goodbye when they on their dying bed. Stay with them to the last minute. Your dog needs all the care and love that they get.
Regardless of your dog not being able to show it because they are too lethargic, they feel your love and care and will definitely need it.
What to expect after your dog dies?
You have to know after your dog’s moment of death or even after death, they will vocalize, twitch, and eliminate.
This is very natural as your dog’s muscles and organs release for the last time.
Even though it is very sad for all dog parents who experience their dog’s passing away, it is inevitable to happen and you have to be ready when the day comes.
After your dog passes, you have a few options as to which to do with the body. I find it most suitable to keep their ashes in the house. It makes me feel like they are still around in some way or another. If that’s the case for you, you can even make their urn extra special by making it yourself. You can learn how to make an urn yourself here.
Your dog can sense death but they won’t be able to tell you that they are dying.
You have to observe your dog so you can know whether they are showing symptoms that they are sick or dying.
Even though your dog’s death is an experience that is very painful and hurtful for you, you have to take extra care of your dog and do everything that they need to make them happy in their final days.
To know more about if dogs understand us, check can dogs understand us?