Is my Dog Dying? - Symptoms & Advice

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 1, 2017
Is my Dog Dying? - Symptoms & Advice

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Death is not easy to accept, however, it is a process experienced by all living beings. If you have an elderly dog, a sick dog or a dog with unusual symptoms, you may suspect that they are close to death. Therefore, AnimalWised have put together these 5 symptoms that a dog is going to die, as well as advice.

Please don't forget that you should go to your trusted vet immediately, either to receive a diagnosis, advice on care or professional help if the animal requires it.

1. They don't want to go outside

Over time, older dogs decrease their level of physical activity and sometimes, they may stop wanting to leave their home as often as before. However, if so far your dog has always wanted to go for frequent walks and is now beginning to reject this routine, you must start to suspect that something is happening.

Of course, if your dog does not want to go for a walk, this does not automatically mean that they are close to death, it can be a psychological pregnancy or a pathology that is causing them to feel weak and not want to go for a walk.

Is my Dog Dying? - Symptoms & Advice - 1. They don't want to go outside

2. They show abnormal behavior

Sick animals or those who are close to death carry out abnormal behaviors that can help us identify a poor condition. We may begin to see behavioral problems related to their mood, such as fears, aggressive behavior or abnormal movements.

You may also notice incontinence, vomiting, diarrhea, or other disorders.

3. Their vital signs are altered

Among the different signs that a dog will die we find an alteration of the vital signs. Dehydration, excessive wheezing or an abnormal temperature may indicate that something is not going well.

We explain to you what are the vital signs of a healthy dog[1] :

  • Body temperature: between 38 ºC and 39 ºC.
  • Respiratory rate in dogs: between 10 and 30 breaths per minute (RPM).
  • Heart rate in dogs: between 90 and 140 beats per minute in small dogs, between 70 and 110 beats per minute in medium dogs and 60 to 90 beats per minute in large dogs. Values ‚Äč‚Äčthat refer to the constants of a dog at rest.
  • Capillary refill time: Capillary refill time can be identified by lightly pressing the mucous membranes of the dog. You should analyze how long it takes to regain normal color. Pressure is usually applied to the mucous membranes of the mouth (gums) and the time must be less than two seconds.

In any case, an alteration of the vital signs of a dog indicates that it is necessary to go immediately to the vet.

Is my Dog Dying? - Symptoms & Advice - 3. Their vital signs are altered

4. They don't want to eat or drink water

The appetite is an unmistakable sign that a dog is healthy, so if our best friend starts to refuse fod and even their favorite wet food, rations should be suspected. They may also stop drinking water and we will be forced to hydrate them.

As a consequence of the lack of food and water intake, we will begin to observe that the dog vomits bile and that their organs begin to fail. This will cause pain, rejection towards us and discomfort in the dog.

5. They hardly want to move

If you watch your dog lethargic in a corner of the house and they are showing all the symptoms we mentioned above, perhaps your dog is near death. This is a very delicate moment, so we advise you to offer a comfortable place to rest, a pleasant atmosphere and pay close attention at all times. It is important that they feel accompanied.

Is my Dog Dying? - Symptoms & Advice - 5. They hardly want to move

What to do if a dog is dying

If you suspect that your dog is dying and they also show all or any of the signs we have mentioned throughout the article, do not hesitate and contact your vet quickly. While these symptoms may indicate that they are close to death, they are also symptoms of different pathologies and diseases, so only the veterinarian can determine what the true cause.

In addition, the specialist will help you make the best decision. You should remember that in some cases, such as when the animal suffers a lot of pain, euthanasia should be considered, for the sole purpose of relieving pain.

If you feel that this is not an option in your case, you must offer them the best care possible to end their life with dignity and surrounded by who they love most. They may need with feeding, drinking and sometimes may even urinate somewhere in the house.

Is my Dog Dying? - Symptoms & Advice - What to do if a dog is dying

What to do when a dog dies

The death of a dog is one of the saddest and most painful moments for any owner. You must decide what to do with the animal's body.

If your dog has died during the veterinary consultation, the specialist will probably suggest you incinerate the body of the dog, either in private or with other bodies of deceased dogs. If the dog has died at home, you can call your veterinarian to follow this same process, but you can also contact an animal funeral home, which is generally a cheaper option.

Do not forget that if your dog is on the pet register of your country you must tell them to remove the name, to ensure that the census is up to date.

And then...

Is it possible to overcome the death of a pet? It is a long process, which requires time, acceptance and a stage of mourning. Although many people cannot understand it, the truth is that dogs and humans create a very strong bond, even more than you can have with another human.

What we can recommend, is that once you are ready to have an animal next to you, adopt a dog that really needs a loving home. There are many abandoned animals in shelters or kennels as well as on the street.

Is my Dog Dying? - Symptoms & Advice - What to do when a dog dies

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Is my Dog Dying? - Symptoms & Advice, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

  1. Tami Gabriella, Vital Constants in Dogs, Affinity 2016

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What did you think of this article?
Thomas Williams
My dog is breathing rapidly and it sounds like she's struggling to breathe
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Thomas,

We cannot diagnose any medical problems here. It could be any of a range of physical problems we explain here at AnimalWised, such as choking, diabetes or even old age. Taking them to the vet for examination and diagnosis is the only course of action.
Christina gault
My chichuia is 15 she won't let u touch her now yaps and back end going side ways lost her mate four months ago lost her hair now is biteback biteing herself raw
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Christina,

It sounds like your dog may be stressed, perhaps due to the loss of her canine friend. Here is an article which might help:

However, it is important to know there are many possible causes of this behavior. It could also be a skin disease such as one found in this article:

Only a vet will be able to provide an adequate diagnosis, so we recommend making an appointment.
Misty Hilton
My dog hasn't ate since yesterday she will take a few sips of water here an there. Her breathing is really weird she don't want to move around
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Misty
We suggest you go to your veterinarian and he/she can assess the situation and treat your dog accordingly!
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