How to Know if Your Dog is Going to Die



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How to Comfort a Dying Dog

Two Methods:

Although it is a natural part of life, it is never easy saying goodbye to your beloved canine companion. During this stage of life, you will want to make your dog as comfortable as possible. The comfort you provide throughout this potentially frightening situation will make the transition easier for your dog and bring you peace of mind as well.

Steps

Comforting Your Dog at Home

  1. Stay patient with your dog.Older dogs commonly begin experiencing joint and muscle problems, and they can become frustrated with their discomfort and impairments.If your dog is grumpy or irritable during the end stages of life, simply do your best to be patient and provide the other comforts you can at home.
  2. Provide a quiet environment.Chaos around the home will only stress both you and your dog as you’re trying to spend the final hours of your dog’s life together meaningfully and with compassion. Give your dog a quiet environment away from noisy children or other animals in the house.
    • Soft, unobtrusive music can also be calming, or you may also use a nature soundtrack with birdsong and the sounds of running water.
  3. Speak in comforting tones.Reassure your dog that he’s not alone and speak in soft comforting tones. Tell him “good boy” and the other phrases you normally use for positive reinforcement to let him know it’s okay. Give him plenty of light pets as well.
    • If you want to make sure you’re there for the final moments, then you may choose to sleep next to his bed in a sleeping bag for the final nights.
  4. Put down comfortable bedding.If your dog has a favorite dog bed, put it down for him. Otherwise you can put down some other blankets to help him lay down comfortably.Your dog may also have difficulty regulating his body temperature at the end, so keep some blankets handy to put over him in the event that he shows signs of being cold.
    • Elderly dogs are also prone to pressure sores, so put down extra cushioning for an older dog.
    • On a practical note, he may also have problems with incontinence at the end. Choose a spot you can easily clean and bedding you can wash later. If your dog does have any accidents, then clean them up patiently without scolding him. He can’t help it.
    • If your dog gets cold, you can also use a heater in the area to make him more comfortable.
  5. Keep fresh water available.Hydration is still important to keeping your dog comfortable even in the final hours. Provide a bowl of water next to the dog bed, so your dog doesn’t have to get up to drink. If your is having trouble rising even to drink, then use a clean dropper to help provide water.
  6. Prepare some of his favorite meal.If your dog has always had a favorite thing to eat, then you should make some of it in case he’s hungry. However, it is pretty common for dogs to lose their appetite in the end stages of life, so don’t force him to eat if he’s not hungry.
    • Solid food may also upset your dog’s stomach at the end as certain systems related to digestion begin shutting down. If your dog still shows a willingness to eat but regular food is upsetting his stomach, then try mixing some baby food with water, or you can also try the Hills A/D diet, which is liquid.
  7. See your veterinarian about pain management.If your dog still has enough time and you’re worried about pain in the final stages, then you can consult your vet for pain management options for the final days.
    • Signs that your dog might be in pain include excessive panting or gasping for breath or reluctance to move.
  8. Hug your dog one final time.Once your dog passes, give him one final hug and say goodbye. It’s a very painful moment, so remember that it’s perfectly okay to cry, but also remember the good times you had with your pet and that he passed in a comfortable, loving environment with you doing everything you could.
    • Be aware that some dogs seem to "move" or "take a breath" after passing away. As their nervous system shuts down, sometimes muscles in the body or lungs can spasm and look like a sign of life.
    • It’s also common for dogs to pass with their eyes open.You can close them if you want as you say your final goodbye, or you can pull one of the blankets over his head.
  9. Take care of yourself.Once your pet has passed, know that you did everything you could and worry about taking care of yourself. Seek comfort in other loved ones who understand the loss. You can also light candles or say a small prayer for your pet if it feels right and helps.
    • The ASPCA also has a hotline you can call to talk to someone who understands the difficulty of losing a pet. You can reach this hotline at 1-877-GRIEF-10.
  10. Handle your pet’s remains.Though it’s unpleasant, you do have to do something with your pet’s remains once he passes. Many people choose to cremate pets or bury them whether in a pet cemetery or closer to home.Many services are available to help you deal with the remains to make the process easier on you. Look online or ask your vet for services in your area that will help with the option of your choosing.

Comforting Your Dog at the Vet

  1. Consult a professional about euthanasia.The ASPCA has a specific hotline for those dealing with the difficult decision of euthanizing a pet. The line gives you someone to talk to who will understand your grief throughout the process, as well as information about your dog’s quality of life at this stage and whether or not euthanasia may be the most humane option.
    • You can reach the ASPCA hotline at 1-877-GRIEF-10.
  2. Make the appointment.Though it hurts to do and it always feels too soon, you’ll have to make an appointment for the vet to euthanize him when you know your dog is at the end of life. Your vet is likely to suggest this option if your dog’s condition has significantly deteriorated and the vet believes the dog is in pain.
  3. Bring some of your dog’s favorite items.You’ll want to surround your dog with a few of his favorite things at the end. A favorite blanket and a soft toy are very common items that you may choose to bring with to help comfort him as he passes.
    • Favorite blankets or a dog bed will also be much more comfortable for your dog than the exam table, especially if he’s already in discomfort.
  4. Sign any forms at the vet.When you sign in for the appointment, you’ll also have a few forms to fill out, including a consent form signaling that you know what is about to happen. While filling out forms is the last thing you want to focus on, it is a necessary part of the process.
  5. Ask about a sedative beforehand.If your dog is experiencing any pain or discomfort from a medical condition, ask the veterinarian about giving him a sedative. This will make your dog more comfortable, and it will give you the peace of mind later knowing that your dog passed without any pain.
  6. Pet your dog with gentle, loving strokes.Once you’ve been taken back to the private room and placed your dog down on his blankets with any other items, focus all your energy on spending quality final moments with him. The veterinarian will have to finish setting up the necessary items, so use this time to offer soft praise to your dog. Tell him you love him and pet him in his favorite spots.
  7. Hug your dog.Your vet will ensure you’re ready and then begin injecting the solution to euthanize your dog. Many people choose to hug their dog during these moments because the process is fairly quick. Between six and twelve seconds after the solution is delivered, your dog will take a deep breath and then appear to fall into a deep sleep before taking a few more final breaths.
    • Some pet owners also prefer not to be in the room for the actual injection and passing.The veterinarian’s office is used to people who need to cope and grieve in their own ways. Ultimately decide what is right for you.
  8. Give yourself time.Do not be embarrassed to cry in front of the vet or other employees at the clinic. They all understand what you’re going through. After your dog has passed away, your veterinarian will give you the option to spend some additional one-on-one time with your dog. Some owners take this opportunity to say a few last words to their dog while others choose to pass on this option.
  9. Discuss options for the remains.After giving you the time you need, your vet will discuss options concerning what to do with your dog’s remains. This may include releasing them to you for burial or cremating them, which the vet can take care of. You can choose cremation either with the intent to take the cremains with you or not.
    • In some places, it is against the law for the vet to return your pet's body to you for burial.

Community Q&A

Search
  • Question
    How long do dachshunds live?

    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Dr. Elliott is a Veterinarian who specializes in Companion Animal Medicine in England. She registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1987.
    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Expert Answer
    Dachshunds are a small breed dog, and tend to live longer than larger dogs. The average life expectancy is around 14 - 16 years. Bear in mind that this is just an average; some dogs lead shorter lives, while others live to be older.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Would a dog toilet with a funnel help a dog that is dying and is incontinent?

    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Dr. Elliott is a Veterinarian who specializes in Companion Animal Medicine in England. She registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1987.
    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Expert Answer
    Anything that will keep the dog from lying in urine and getting urine burn on the skin is a good idea. Other options include puppy pads, which are highly absorbent, or Vetbed. The latter is an artificial sheepskin which wicks moisture away from the dog, and has the advantage that it is very soft, which makes for a comfortable bed.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    What are the signs of a dog dying?

    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Dr. Elliott is a Veterinarian who specializes in Companion Animal Medicine in England. She registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1987.
    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Expert Answer
    There are many different signs, but start by checking the dog's gums. If they are pale or white, they feel dry, and when you press the gum the blood takes a few seconds to return, this is a worrying sign. Also, the dog's heart rate may drop below normal, their temperature may be low (below 101°F), and breathing may be labored.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How can I help my sick dog?

    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Dr. Elliott is a Veterinarian who specializes in Companion Animal Medicine in England. She registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1987.
    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Expert Answer
    It's important to get the dog seen by a vet, so the cause of the sickness is diagnosed and treated directly. Nursing care is important, so provide a quiet, warm place to rest, with food and water close by. Take the dog out regularly for toilet breaks.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Why would a dog die suddenly?

    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Dr. Elliott is a Veterinarian who specializes in Companion Animal Medicine in England. She registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1987.
    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Expert Answer
    There can be any number of reasons, but the most common reasons for sudden death include brain haemorrhage or bloat (Gastric dilatation and volvulus).
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How do you know when a dog is ready to die?

    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Dr. Elliott is a Veterinarian who specializes in Companion Animal Medicine in England. She registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1987.
    Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
    Expert Answer
    It helps to assess things such as pain levels, appetite, activity and mobility, ability to keep clean, interest in life, and changes in weight. If the dog falls heavily to the negative side of these things, then their quality of life is poor.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How can I feel better if my dog dies?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Take your dog's old toys and any pictures of you and him, and sit in a comfortable, quiet place and think about the times you spent with your dog. Cry into a cushion, imagine you're cuddling your dog, and know that the time you had together was special. Now, he is far from any suffering or want. Picture him happy, doing all the things he loved to do. This can help you come to terms with the loss.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Should I let my dog see and sniff her mother's body after she passes away?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes. It would be nice for your dog to enjoy a last moment with their mother. Hopefully they will better understand what happened to her.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    My dog is dying. She is in hospital and I can't go to the hospital. I want to spend some time with her. What should I do?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Ask the veterinarian hospital to send some photos/video footage of your dog, or even to make a FaceTime call.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How long do Jack Russells live?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Jack Russells tend to live anywhere between 13 and 16 years. As a smaller breed, they tend to live longer than larger breeds, but this isn't always the case.
    Thanks!
Unanswered Questions
  • How do I deal with the sadness of my dog dying?
  • Some homeopathic suggestions are Aresenicum album, does this seem viable? Will this actually comfort them some?
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Expert Review By:
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

of How to Comfort a Dying Dog was reviewed by on May 15, 2019.

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Updated:
Views: 289,372
of readers found this articlehelpful.
303 votes - 92%
Click a star to add your vote
92% of people told us that this article helped them.

Heidi Scola

Oct 1

"Just knowing that he can feel that he is being comforted by me and how it's my responsibility to make him feelspecial and loved, that's the most important thing to me. I can grieve after I give him my unconditional love, as hard as this is for me."

Anonymous

Sep 26, 2019

"I forgot about keeping positive images in my head. As soon as I worry, or imagine her gone, she starts whining.Your article reminded me. I also keep telling her about her friends that are waiting for her. She has lost many."

Anonymous

Jul 15, 2019

"Knowing in general what we face helped. Learning how to help my dog through the death process without making itworse for her by my crying. Then knowing what might help afterward, what might help me cope with her death."

Dominga Santos

Jun 8, 2019

"My dog hasn't passed yet, but she is elderly. This article taught me what to expect, as well as the necessary stepsto take to ensure comfort for my old gal. Reading this article brought me a lot of comfort, thank you."

Patsy Tillion

Sep 3, 2019

"I am babysitting for the weekend, so I am happy to know that classical music will help. That I should be calm andthe dog will follow my lead. Repetition is good. Holding a dog close is comforting to him. Thank you!"

Davina Calder

Dec 13, 2019

"This truly helped me because it took me through step by step. I just lost my dachshund, Trixie, she was the bestlittle dog ever. I will love and miss her forever. She was our world."

Caroline McNeish

Jun 8, 2019

"The description of physical symptoms was helpful. Our dog, Molly, is fifteen years old and things were not lookinggood for her last night. This article helped greatly."

Kim Kardashian

Jun 8, 2019

"This comforted my dog and me. He passed yesterday, but at least I was able to make the final days with him calmingand quite relaxing. :("

Sue Garraway

May 4, 2019

"This was very useful when we had to have our dog put to sleep. We were heartbroken and this reallyhelped. Thank you."

Anonymous

Jul 12, 2019

"Although sad, the step-by-step pictures and other pet pictures helped me see that I am in the right place with mypet."

Anonymous

Feb 25

"Helped confirm what we knew, that our dog is dying and we need to make a decision on end of life."

Anonymous

Jul 19, 2019

"It's such a hard thing to deal with. Very grateful for the help in this article. Thank you."

Katie Simons

Aug 29, 2019

"It help me deal with my dog dying right now.





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Date: 01.12.2018, 04:36 / Views: 72583