One of the worst things about owning a dog is that our beloved companions’ lifespans are much shorter than ours.
It is rare for a dog to live for 20 years, and most dogs don’t even live this long. Bigger dogs typically live shorter periods than smaller canine companions, but there are plenty of exceptions, and all dogs are individuals
While most dog breeds have a typical lifespan, that doesn’t necessarily tell you how long your particular dog will live.
And as your dog reaches the end of his lifespan, you may begin to worry about when the time will come for him to move on.
There are a few signs you can look for to let you know when it is your dog’s time to go, which we’ll share below. Looking for these signs is essential, as there are many things you can do to bring your dog comfort at the end of their life.
Understand that we’re trying to help readers during a difficult (likely, the MOST difficult) time in a pet parent’s life.
However, it is critical that you understand that no two dogs will exhibit exactly the same signs or symptoms signifying that the end is near.
Some dogs may experience the signs and symptoms discussed below when they’re nearing the end, while others may exhibit these clues while still having months or years of life left. Conversely, some dogs may approach the end without displaying any obvious signs, which may lead to unnecessary suffering.
Accordingly, it is imperative that owners work extremely closely with their veterinarians. Don’t make any hasty decisions on your own and lean on your vet’s expertise and experience to guide your decision-making process.
Signs Your Dog Is Dying: Key Takeaways
- Dogs exhibit a number of common signs that signify the end is near, including things like lethargy, reduced appetite, and seeking more human comfort than usual.
- You’ll want to be especially compassionate to your dog during this time, and work with your vet to ensure he remains comfortable as possible. This includes deciding whether a natural passing or euthanasia is most appropriate.
- It is imperative that you take care of your own mental, emotional, and physical health while providing end-of-life care, and give yourself plenty of time to grieve as a pet parent.
Technically speaking, most of the things we describe below are symptoms, rather than signs. While laypersons often use these terms interchangeably, those in the medical and veterinary communities draw a pretty clear distinction between the two.
Simply put, “symptoms” are the things the patient reports, and they are subjective. For example, “my back hurts,” is a symptom.
Conversely, “signs” (or, more specifically, “clinical signs”) are the objective findings of a medical professional. For example, a blood test that demonstrates a reduced white blood count, would be a clinical sign.
It is a bit more complicated with dogs, as they can’t share their subjective experiences with us. But, you explaining to the vet that your dog is limping is probably better described as a symptom than a sign. Your vet’s physical examination of your dog may then yield the sign that your dog’s range of motion is decreased.
Nevertheless, we are just trying to help dog owners here; we’re not drafting an article for a veterinary journal. So, we’ll be using the terms colloquially and interchangeably below.
Signs That Your Dog is Dying
Dogs still hold onto many of their old instincts from their wild days. Because of this, many will try to hide the fact that they are ill.
In the wild, showing signs of injury or terminal illness makes an animal a target for predators, which is why many dogs will naturally try not to show pain or display signs that indicate illness.
This can make distinguishing whether or not your canine is nearing the end of his life difficult. Unfortunately, you often won’t know until your dog is very close.
However, there are a few things you can look for that can help you determine whether your dog is nearing the end of their days.
1. Loss of Interest
When a dog approaches the end of his lifespan, he can begin to lose interest in the world around him. This is especially true of dogs who suffer from a long-term, chronic illness.
Toys he once loved will gather dust, and he might not jump up to greet you at the door anymore.
In fact, this is often one of the first (and most heart-breaking) signs that your canine’s quality of life is beginning to decrease. This is, unfortunately, a common symptom associated with your dog’s body slowing down.
A loss of interest in previously enjoyable things and activities is usually due to multiple reasons.
- Firstly, your dog is likely to feel more tired than usual, which will decrease the amount of time he feels like playing.
- It may also be painful for him to move around too much, especially if he has arthritis or joint pain.
- Finally, even when not in pain, it is also common for old or dying dogs to experience problems with mobility. He might be extra-cautious on slippery floors or have trouble judging distance.
These factors can make it much easier for your dog to simply lay around all day, instead of participating in his favorite pastimes.
2. Loss of Coordination
It is very common for dogs to lose coordination as they reach the end of their lifespans. They may not have the muscle strength they once did, which can affect their balance.
Furthermore, they may have trouble judging distance or suffer from less-than-stellar eyesight. These factors can make them much clumsier than usual.
There are countless disorders that can also cause a loss of coordination, including dehydration. If your pooch is experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms and then a loss of coordination, it could just be that he’s dehydrated.
But your canine developing more than one of these symptoms is worrying.
Dogs that are dying will often experience many of the symptoms of depression.
This is not necessarily because your dog knows he is dying. Instead, it is likely that he simply doesn’t feel well.
He may, for example:
- Stop doing things he once loved
- Cease responding to your attention
- Become withdrawn
- Exhibit changes in his sleeping patterns
- Lose interest in walks or trips to the park
While dog depression is treatable during other occasions, it may not be easy to address as your dog approaches the end of his life.
Medication is used for some depressed dogs, but your canine may not respond well to medication if he is very old. It is important to speak to your vet about your options.
4. Odd Breathing
When a canine is very close to death, his normal bodily functions may begin to break down. This can cause him to breathe in an odd manner.
This is actually true for humans too. If you’ve ever been at the deathbed of a loved one, you may be familiar with the irregular breathing that commonly accompanies an individual’s end of life hours.
Your dog’s breathing may be very slow or very fast. It may be normal for a bit and then become labored before returning to normal again. He may also simply have to work hard to move air in and out.
If your dog begins having trouble breathing, it is essential to call your vet right away if you have not already done so. This can be a sign of illness that is treatable with the right care.
This is often one of the last signs that develops when a dog is dying. However, it can also go on for quite sometime before your dog finally passes.
Dogs often lose control of their bladder as they age.
Because of this, incontinence by itself isn’t necessarily a sign that your dog is about to die. Instead, it may just be a part of their normal aging process.
However, if incontinence develops quickly and is paired with other symptoms on this list, it could be a sign that your dog’s body is beginning to shut down.
But if your dog is having accidents yet still jumping around and happy, he is likely not near the end of his life.
We highly recommend taking your pet to the vet if he has lost control of his bladder. Incontinence can be a sign of many different health problems, many of which are treatable. Just be sure to continue providing plenty of fresh drinking water, unless otherwise instructed by your vet.
6. Extreme Lethargy
In many ways, lethargy looks a lot like depression. And while they can occur simultaneously, some dogs will experience lethargy without feeling depressed.
In either case, dogs near the end of life rarely move around much.
Your pet may not play as much as he used to, and he will probably spend most of his time lying around. Your canine may refuse to go on walks altogether, or he may ignore your invitations to play.
Of course, lethargy is common anytime your pet is feeling under the weather, so he could just be sick.
However, unexplained lethargy or lethargy that is paired with advanced age and other symptoms can be a sign that your pooch is dying.
7. Appetite Changes
Dogs who are close to the end of their life will often experience a change in appetite. They may even stop eating altogether, which is the most common leading to intense weight loss.
Just like humans, dogs will often stop eating when they feel bad.
If they also have gastrointestinal problems, their appetites may decrease simply because they don’t feel well.
A loss of appetite isn’t always a sign of death in dogs, though.
Almost all diseases — and simple stress — can cause changes in appetite.
It is unexplained appetite changes that are most concerning and what we’re talking about here. You might also see changes in how often your dog is drinking water.
8. Gastrointestinal Symptoms
This is a bit rarer than the other symptoms we’ve mentioned, but some dogs do develop stomach problems when they reach the end of life. This may include vomiting and diarrhea or just nausea.
These intestinal health issues can develop for a few different reasons:
- Firstly, as your dog nears the end of their life, his digestion may not work as well as it used to. This can make vomiting and diarrhea common.
- Secondly, your canine’s appetite might be messed up as well, which can cause (or stem from) nausea. Gastrointestinal symptoms are associated with a huge number of different diseases.
Given the myriad causes for gastrointestinal upset, we really recommend speaking with your vet if you notice any of these symptoms.
In any case, it is very important to keep your dog hydrated if he’s beginning to experience gastrointestinal symptoms. Diarrhea — particularly severe diarrhea — may cause dehydration, and constipation can result from dehydration.
9. Seeking Comfort
Dogs may become clingier when they begin approaching the end of their lives. They likely won’t feel well and some dogs will look to their owners for comfort.
With that said, this is somewhat rare.
Dogs still hold onto many of their natural instincts when it comes to the end of their life, so they may often try to hide that they’re sick — even from their favorite person.
Furthermore, a dog that is suffering from lethargy may not have the energy to seek out comfort.
Some dogs may also hide as death nears, instead of seeking comfort. They often won’t want to be around others when they die and may seek comfort in the silence of their beds.
It isn’t uncommon for dogs to go under beds before they die and hide there.
Your dog may experience some loss of muscle control with age, which can lead to twitching.
Pain can also cause twitching, as can some secondary symptoms, like dehydration.
Twitching by itself, isn’t always a bad sign. Like humans, dogs can twitch for almost no reason.
However, very bad twitching that causes your pooch to lose his balance or twitching that lasts for a long time could be a sign of a deeper problem. You should speak to your vet, in this case, to rule out a treatable illness.
When your dog is nearing the end of their life, he will likely not feel well in the least. Because of this, he may become very irritable.
He might snap unexpectedly, react badly to things he used to tolerate, or growl unnecessarily.
This is often a response to fear and/or pain.
If your dog is in pain, he may be afraid that contact will cause him more pain.
He may be afraid that you’ll push down in the wrong spot, for instance.
Because of this, he may try to protect himself by becoming irritable and somewhat defensive.
On the flip side, if your dog has the energy to be irritable, it is possible that he is not as close to death as you may fear. Dogs that are very close to death are often listless and lethargic, rather than irritable.
Suffice to say, if you notice any significant behavioral changes in your canine, speak to your vet.
12. Changes in Gum Color
If your dog’s organs are not working as they should be, his gums may change color. He may also develop bad breath or experience other dental issues.
If your dog’s gums are blue, for example, it may mean that appropriate amounts of oxygen are not being circulated in his bloodstream.
This can be caused by either a problem with the lungs or heart and can be a sign of serious illnesses like congestive heart failure. Of course, some very serious but treatable illnesses like pneumonia can also cause your dog’s gums to turn blue.
White gums or very pale gums are often the results of insufficient blood flow. This can be a common sign of blood loss, which can be the result of internal bleeding if your dog is not bleeding outwardly.
Alternatively, it can be a sign of severe anemia. This can be caused by dietary problems and other underlying problems.
Bright red gums can also occur in aging dogs, and is often a sign of heatstroke. Your dog’s gums will turn a bright color when he is too hot, which can be caused by your dog’s inability to control his own body temperature.
This gum color changes are much rarer than the others when it comes to your beloved family pet nearing his death, but it is possible.
13. Emotional Detachment
Dogs react to death differently. While some pups may lean on their owners more for support, other dogs may seek solitude.
You might find that your dog seeks out more alone time, or begins resting in low-traffic areas of your home. This can be especially heartbreaking for pet parents, but remember that this is a completely normal way for some pets to cope at the end of their lives.
Your dog might not be interested in company or touch, and that’s OK. Make sure that any of your dog’s new “spots” are well equipped with a food and water bowl so that he doesn’t have to roam far to get sustenance if needed.
14. Lowered Body Temperature
Dogs may lose their ability to control their own body temperatures as they age and suffer other health problems, which can make them lose body heat and have a cool body temperature.
Because of this, dogs who are extremely close to death will have a lower body temperature and blood pressure than usual.
Just be sure to consider the circumstances; if you are in a colder climate, your dog might just be too cold.
Either way, just be sure to monitor his temperature so you’ll know for sure.
You can also help your dog stay comfortable by raising his body temperature using hot water bottles, heated beds, and warm blankets. You should also call your vet.
15. Weight Loss
Dental issues or a decreased appetite can ultimately lead to weight loss. And in some cases, weight loss may be attributed to diseases your dog has, such as cancer or chronic renal or hepatic insufficiencies — it just depends on the specifics, such as the type of cancer your dog suffers from.
This change can be gradual or rapid depending on your dog’s situation. Your veterinarian may prescribe a specialized diet or an appetite stimulant to help manage these losses.
Weight loss in older dogs is most troubling when your dog loses a lot of weight in a short period of time. Unfortunately, rapid weight loss often serves as an indicator an underlying disease in dogs like kidney failure or liver failure, so it’s important to seek out care from your veterinarian as you start to notice these changes in your pet.
You know your dog better than anyone else, so you’ll know best when something is wrong.
Old age is tied to plenty of health hiccups – not all of which indicate death is imminent.
However, you’ll know when your dog’s quality of life has been significantly affected. There are even some great quizzes and dog quality of life scales than can help you evaluate, if you need some assistance.
Often, the little hiccups just add up until you know your canine isn’t having such a good time anymore.
Point being: Whether your dog is exhibiting one of the signs mentioned above or several, factor your own intuition in to achieve the best understanding of the situation.
How to Help Your Dog at the End: What Should You Do?
When your dog is nearing the end of his life, there are a few things you can do to help keep him comfortable.
Just remember that all dogs are individuals. Some of our these suggestions might not fit your canine’s personality, and that’s okay. Do what you think will make your dog the most comfortable.
Limit the Pain
The easiest way to help your dog enjoy his last few days is to manage his pain as much as possible.
Many types of chronic illness can cause pain, so you’ll need to tailor your approach to your dog’s specific ailment. If he has arthritis in his hips, for example, you probably want to ensure he’s in a comfortable location and avoid making him move too much.
He may also benefit from a super-supportive memory foam dog bed.
Work closely with your vet too. With your vet’s approval, you can use over-the-counter dog-safe pain medicine to ease your dog’s discomfort. Your vet may also be willing to prescribe more powerful canine pain meditations that’ll help ease your dog’s suffering.
Once again, you know your dog best, so you’ll be the best judge of how much pain he’s in.
While many dogs do suffer a bit in the end, a combination of medication, compassion, and common sense can help keep him more comfortable.
Continue Daily Routines
Dogs thrive on routines, so it is important that you continue yours for as long as possible. This will alleviate some of your dog’s stress.
Your dog many not be able to go on walks, once the end approaches. But, if you sit on the couch and cuddle at the same time each day, be sure you continue that ritual.
At some point, you will likely need to suspend your usual routine because your dog won’t be up to it anymore. But try to continue your typical routine for as long as you can.
Your dog will benefit from your presence during this stressful time, so be sure to stay close.
Furthermore, you’ll want to be there to help your canine reposition or take potty breaks as painlessly as possible.
Your canine may also go downhill rather quickly, so you’ll want to be around when that happens. If possible, plan to be at your dog’s side for at least a few days.
If you can’t be there for whatever reason, ask a family member or friend who is familiar with your furry family member to spend some time with your pooch.
You don’t want to have a stranger watch them, as this may stress your dog out, and that’s the last thing you want to do.
Your buddy has been there for you during trying times for years, and this is your chance to return the favor.
Limit New Activities
While you want to continue old routines and activities for as long as possible, new activities should usually be avoided.
Your dog probably won’t be able to do much anyway, and new activities may cause more stress than they are worth.
Any significant changes to your home or surroundings should be put off as well. You want to keep everything as normal as possible, so you don’t cause unnecessary stress.
Two Important Decisions: How Will It All End & What Happens Afterward?
As you get close to the end, you’ll need to make two very important decisions. We’ll discuss each — and try to provide a bit of guidance — below.
Decide Between Euthanasia and Natural Passing
You will eventually need to make a decision on euthanasia vs. natural passing.
You won’t always have the option to make a choice, as your dog may go downhill too fast to make it to the vet’s office.
However, in the situation that you can make a decision, you’ll want to be prepared beforehand.
Also, understand that your decision may not always be cut and dry, and you may change your mind as circumstances change.
For example, you may decide to let your dog pass naturally, but then change your mind when your dog’s suffering stretches out for weeks. That is okay.
The main advantage of euthanasia is that your pet’s passing will likely be quick and painless. Your pet will lose consciousness very quickly during the procedure, so he won’t feel anything.
However, you will likely need to drive to the vet’s office, which may be unreasonable if your pet is in a lot of pain.
Fortunately, some vets will make house calls for euthanasia, so be sure to ask. Euthanasia will cost money, but it typically isn’t very expensive.
Natural death can happen in the comfort of your own home, but it can be a drawn-out process. It can also be hard to watch.
Some pets die in their sleep in very little pain, but many do not. There can be less guilt associated with this method if you feel uneasy about euthanasia.
However, there may also be some guilt about not ending your pet’s suffering beforehand.
The truth is, there is often no easy answer, and making this decision is often a huge struggle for pet parents.
Animals that are having trouble breathing, obviously stressed, and in severe, unmanageable pain benefit most from euthanasia. Euthanasia can be the most compassionate choice in many other situations as well.
The decision is completely up to you.
Be sure to take into account your dog’s personality. Some don’t mind going to the vet, while others hate leaving home. Some may be in a lot of pain, while others will have their pain managed pretty easily with medication.
There is no “right” answer, so you’ll need to just try to make the best decision on behalf of your pet.
Cremation or Burial: What Will You Do Once Your Pet Passes?
While it might be hard, you should also consider when to do after your pet dies. The two most common choices are burial and cremation.
If you have land and your dog is smaller, burial is probably your best option.
However, pet cremation is also available in many cases. This option is a great choice for bigger dogs, where burial might be difficult.
Some owners find the act of burying their dog very upsetting. You may want to consider a cremation facility in this case too.
If you decide on cremation, there are many different things you can do with your dog’s ashes to create a lasting memorial.
You may want to consider spreading them in a flower bed, burying them beneath a memorial stone, placing them in an urn, or placing a portion in a locket or other piece of memorial jewelry.
Many owners scatter the ashes at locations that were special to their pets as well.
The Very End: What Happens at the Vet
If you decide on euthanasia, and a home visit from your vet isn’t possible, you will need to take a trip to the vet’s office.
This can be upsetting, so you may want to bring a support person.
Larger dogs may need someone to hold them in the car, which can make a support person very valuable.
Euthanasia is often very quick and will be painless. But you will need to call ahead and make an appointment.
Usually, the appointment will be late at night or early in the morning when the office is not busy. Most vets will build time into the appointment for you to say goodbye to your pet, once the injections have been administered.
The procedure itself is very simple. Your vet will likely give your dog a strong sedative, which will make him very sleepy and calm.
Then, the vet will inject pentobarbital. This is a medication used for anesthesia, so your canine will drift off to sleep.
In this case, the dosage will be much higher than is “safe,” so it will halt your pet’s breathing.
Your dog will fall asleep and experience a loss of consciousness before this happens, so he will not feel any pain or know what is happening. This individual process takes about 10 to 20 seconds, and you will likely be able to hold your pet throughout the entire thing.
The only pain your pet will feel is the prick of the needle, which does not hurt more than your average shot. After that, they will drift off to sleep and just not wake up.
It is a very peaceful process and happens very quickly. Many will lose consciousness within seconds, just like you would when given anesthesia before surgery.
Your pet may twitch after the procedure, but this is just leftover nerve activity and reflexes. Rest assured, your buddy will be at peace.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Losing a pet is always hard.
No matter how your pet’s life ended, you will likely be struck with grief. So, be sure to take care of yourself during this turbulent time.
Keep the following things in mind as you grieve your lost pet:
- Understand that the grieving process comes in many forms, and you may experience many different feelings during this time. That is okay. Accept your feelings and understand that they are natural parts of the process.
- Express your grief through whatever is comfortable with you. If you enjoy writing, you may write about it. Some also find creating photo books or commissioning a pet portrait helpful during the grieving process.
- Lean on your friends and family. Discussing your feelings with loved ones is a great way to process your emotions. There is no right way to express them, but you will likely heal faster if you deal with your grief in an active manner
- Reach out to others who have lost a pet. There are pet loss hotlines, forums, and many Facebook Groups where you can share your feelings with those who have recently gone through the same thing. There are also non-profit organizations dedicated to helping people cope with the loss of a pet.
- Rituals can be particularly healing, so embrace them. You may want to consider having a funeral when you bury your pet or some sort of similar ceremony when you spread their ashes. Doing a ritual that creates some sort of memorial, like planting a tree, can be particularly helpful to some people.
- Attempt to maintain your normal routines as much as possible. This will provide some normalcy in your life, which can be extremely helpful during this time. Furthermore, if you have other pets, keeping a normal routine will prevent them from feeling any unnecessary stress.
- Take care of yourself physically. Eat a healthy diet, get some exercise, remember to take showers, and drink plenty of fluids. This will help you feel better.
Signs Your Dog Is Dying FAQ
Coming to terms with end of life care is challenging. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers that will hopefully help you find some clarity.
What are the first signs of a dying dog?
Every dog is different, but some of the clinical signs that a dog is dying include a reduced appetite, weight loss, and a loss of interest in regular activities. If something is out of sorts with your canine companion, it’s important to go to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
What are the last signs of a dying dog?
You might see more drastic physical changes like rapid weight loss as your dog approaches death. Dogs approaching death may experience behavior changes like loss of interest, confusion, lethargy, or avoidance or extreme attachment to their families.
How do dogs act when they are dying?
Dying dogs act in a variety of ways, but they generally act in out of character ways due to the pain and confusion that comes as you dog nears the end. Your dog may lose interest in the activities and company he used to adore.
How do I know if my dog is dying or just sick?
The only definitive way to check on your dog’s health is to go to the veterinarian. Some clicincal signs that indicate that your dog is due for a visit include changes in appetite, behavior, lethargy, and loss of interest in your dog’s usual routine.
My dog is dying; how long does it take?
There isn’t a standard amount of time for dogs to pass. Some dogs decline rapidly, while others are able to manage their compromised state for days or weeks. It’s entirely up to you whether you opt for natural passing or euthanasia.
How can you make a dying dog comfortable?
You can help your dog feel comfortable with end-of-life care practices like pain management, limiting new activities, and keeping familiar routines. You know your dog better than anyone else, so stay close and cherish your time together. Keep your veterinarian up to date on your dog’s status.
Losing a pet is incredibly difficult, but we promise you that time does help.
It may takes weeks or months for you to begin to feel better, but there will – eventually – come a time when you can think of your beloved pet with more joy and less sadness.
We understand that the loss of a pet can be overwhelming. In fact, K9 of Mine was started, in part, as a grieving project when the founder lost a particularly beloved pooch.
Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to help you through this challenging time.
Some of the following articles may help you remember or memorialize your pet, while others will hopefully help you cope with the heartbreak you’re currently experiencing:
Losing a pet is challenging, but we hope the information and tips above help make the process a little easier for you and your pooch to endure.
Just be sure to trust your instincts during this difficult time, as you try to make the transition as easy as possible on your pet.
Have you lost a pet before? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
For that matter, feel free to share some of your favorite memories, or anything else that may help you feel better or provide some solace for others dealing with this difficult issue.
January 16, 2023
I lost 2 dogs in 2 month, first Cally a border collie aged 11, from a Splenetic rupture due to cancer very heart breaking, then Tippy also a border collie aged nearly 15, his back legs were going due to arthritis and he had trouble pooing as he couldn’t crouch and had to be walked out on his front legs holding up his rear, the vet said after several attempts to alleviate his suffering from the pain caused by this condition, on metacam and then parvale v, and his back legs had deteriorate with some muscle wasting as well, said it would be the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep. It was a shame because all his vital organs were OK, he even was able to hold his head up when euthanised and he could have continued but his quality of life would slowly worsen. How I miss you both as you lie there peacefully forever 11 and 15.
January 17, 2023
Hey there, Martin. We’re so sorry to hear about Cally and Tippy.
Please consider checking out some of our pet loss resources.
January 12, 2023
I have been around a few animals at the end of their lives. Some have been from traumatic situations and some have just been their age and it’s time, both as an owner and working at a vet and a shelter. I think the hardest is yet to come…..I have a 19 year old Yorkie whom had a lot of the symptoms that means we are close, no pain as far as I can tell but does isolate. I’ve had him (gizmo) for 16 of those years.
I have heard that a vet would want to do tests and many other things, but at this stage of the game I would not want to put him through any more than necessary. If he were younger I would understand but not at 19. Thank you for listening. Jackie
January 13, 2023
Hey there, Jackie. We’re so sorry to hear that Gizomo’s time is approaching.
You may want to consider contacting one of the at-home pet euthanasia services. Unfortunately, my fiancée and I needed one for our cat recently.
They didn’t want to perform any tests — they simply asked us about her condition and health problems and made the appointment.
We wish you the best during this hard time.
November 5, 2022
Our beloved dog, Izzy, has melanoma cancer of the mouth. This information was very helpful. The video of the doctor about euthanasia was helpful as well. We did lose a former dog, Haylie, 7 1/2 years ago so we did go through the euthanasia at that time but it was in an emergency. My main concern is that Izzy not suffer needlessly. Thank you for this information.
November 7, 2022
Hey there, Mary.
We’re glad you found the article helpful, but we’re sorry you are in a situation where it is relevant.
Best of luck navigating this difficult time.
September 11, 2022
My 15-year-old dog is scheduled to be euthanized this Thursday, maybe sooner. She’ll be buried at home:) This was a good article to reinforce the signs they give us and when to know, as a human, time to let go. They all go differently. She has hit a wall and stopped eating 5 days ago; there’s nothing more I can do. She is my sixth dog, but the one I’ve had the longest, for 14 years. Time for me to take a break and travel spontaneously, but there will be many more dogs in my future. I like to rescue the old guys!
September 12, 2022
We’re so glad you found the article helpful, Elle.
We wish you and your pooch the very best and hope that Thursday goes as smoothly as possible.
Please don’t hesitate to check out our articles about dog loss if you think they may help.
August 22, 2022
We finally had to let our dearly loved Charlie Brown, chocolate lab, go yesterday. He was sick with bladder cancer for several months.
While I’m so grateful an after hours vet administered the euthanasia, I have a very IMPORTANT recommendation: talk to & touch your pet while meds are given & be RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM so he’ll have EYE CONTACT with you, the person he’s bonded to…He NEEDED that reassurance that “all is well”. The vet warned he would look around as the meds were administered, but I didn’t realize until afterward he was looking for my eyes for reassurance! The room was small & the doc was in front of him; I was behind him with my hands on him, loving him. He turned, head bobbling, his eyes searching mine, looking terrified (he hated vet offices), until he could no longer do so. So please, tell the vet YOUR PLACE IN THE ROOM IS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF YOUR PET because that’s what he needs to not be fearful. And please hold your tears until AFTER he’s gone because your tears will upset him. It is my prayer that all will see this before having to let go of your faithful companion. Love!!
August 23, 2022
Hey there, L.
We’re so sorry to hear about Charlie Brown’s passing, but we appreciate you sharing your tips for other owners.
Please don’t hesitate to check out our dog loss resources if you think they may help.
-Sending good vibes your way-
September 11, 2022
Yes, no tears or extreme emotion. Sitting with them like you do on the couch on a normal day, just petting them lovingly will make them feel so good:)
August 22, 2022
I lost my loving chiwawa A little over a year ago. Now I’m in the process of losing my Aussie shepard whom has been with me for 10 plus years. As I’m nearing the age of 67 I’m not sure I ll get another dog after this one.I’m afraid it might outlive me. I’ve always been told that when go to meet our maker our pets that have passed before us they will be there to greet us. Well if that’s the case I’m in a lot of trouble cause with as many as I’ve had in my life I may not be allowed in through those pearly gates. Pets come into our lives to comfort,enrich and make us happy. I kept my little chiwawa too long as I was so afraid of putting her down until one day I read on a site like this one that many times pet owners can’t let go when it’s time and the pet is only living because of them. Please listen to your instincts .You know your pet best! Discuss with your vet or someone else’s who knows your pet well and can help you with this difficult decision when the time comes. Dogs run.jump.play and provide companionship for us.When this STOP they no longer have thatquality of life anymore,and they live on because of you. So,please listen to your heart I know it’s hard.
August 22, 2022
Hey there, Debbie. We are so sorry to hear about your Chihuahua, as well as the impending loss of your Aussie. But we’re sure you’ve been a fantastic dog mom and they’ve been lucky to have you.
Thanks for sharing their stories and your experiences.
August 13, 2022
I’m not sure my buddy will make it through the night. Dozer turned thirteen on June 7th I’ve had him since he was six months old. My beautiful boy is a golden retriever german shepherd mix and a big boy. Weighing in around eighty pounds. He’s got the golden retriever soft beautiful face complete with goldie knot on top of his head and the strong muscular body of a shepherd. He is my loyal gentle giant who is awkwardly polite who has never met a stranger. When we rescued him from a local animal shelter everybody who worked there stopped what they were doing to come say goodbye to him. It was rather touching all of them having a delightful story about him. Even though he would be missed everyone was thrilled he had gotten his forever home. We have babied him his entire life always making sure he had everything he has ever needed. Our vet has assured us many times that Dozer is a healthy happy dog. However even Dozer can’t escape old age or death and we simply keep him comfortable till his time comes. I fear that time is very, very close and despite knowing I’m still not ready. He has been very clingy today and not wanting me to leave his side. He is resting his head on my side in bed with me. I’ve been through this process many times with my past dogs, cats, birds, chinchillas and even a young wild doe passed in my arms, and it never gets easier. More than once tonight tears the size of quarters have rolled down my face, I am not ready to let my sweet boy go, sadly it is beyond my control.
August 15, 2022
Hey there, Dozer’s mom.
We’re so sorry to hear that is journey is coming to an end, but it sounds like he’s enjoyed a wonderful life with one of the best moms a dog could want.
We know you’ll take great care of Dozer as he prepares to cross the Rainbow Bridge, but please don’t forget to take care of yourself too.
We’d encourage you to check out some of our pet loss resources — they’ve proven helpful for many of our other readers in similar circumstances.
August 11, 2022
I lost my beloved Shadow a day before I came back from school. I had him for 13 years and I felt so horrible I wasn’t there for him when he passed away. He was my best friend and I let him down. He was always there for me and I couldn’t return the loyalty in the end. That was over 10 years ago and I still have not forgiven myself and I never will. That dog died wondering where I was. It’s unforgivable, I hate myself to this day.
August 11, 2022
Hey there, Holly.
We’re so sorry to hear about Shadow, but please don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m sure he knew you would have been there if you could have been.
You may want to check out some of our resources about dog loss — they’ve helped some of our other readers.
We wish you the very best.
August 4, 2022
This article is good and I actually feel quite better now. Thanks. You’re all the best! I actually had another English bulldog he’s called Buster, he’s 6 years old. When Luna died the first thing Buster did was Lay next to her like he’d never heave Luna’s side!
August 3, 2022
I lost my English bulldog called Luna, she was 10 years old but I just forgot about the sad things and went on with my own life seeing my family and friends. I will always remember Luna. And this is a very good website because I love dogs and this website has made me understand what life is really about for dogs knowing that dogs have
shorter lifespans than us as humans. I’m so sorry for the people who lost their pets, it’s always hard losing your
August 4, 2022
Hey there, Angelina.
We’re sorry to hear about Luna, but we’re glad you’ve found some peace, and we appreciate the kind words about the site.
August 4, 2022
Thanks Ben Team.
You mean a lot to me, you’ve made me feel better.
July 27, 2022
This article is so good. It covers everything, and really is helping me cope with the potential loss of my sweet dog. Thank you for putting so much care into writing this article.
July 27, 2022
Thank you, Rose, for the kind words.
We’re glad you found the article helpful but so terribly sorry that you needed to search for this kind of topic in the first place.
Please be sure to take care of yourself during this difficult time and give your little floof some scritches for us.
July 25, 2022
Right now I’m laying down next to my sister’s Pet. I’ve been taking care of her for the past year. I knew it was time for her to go I’ve never had a pet before and didn’t know what to do. This article helped me so much on what steps to take and what to expect. I’m laying down next to her as she is ready to go. She is very peaceful not in pain, from what I’ve read she is about to pass away in a none painful way atleast for her not for me. My sister is on her way here and thanks to this article I know how to explain to her I case she doesn’t make it on time to say goodbye to her. She will know that our little friend was confortable. I never knew how hard this is. Never understood why people hurt if they are just dogs. Well now I know and they aren’t just dogs they are everything for us since they are there for when we need them. Thank you who ever wrote this article Thank you for finding the right way of saying everything in such kind words. I will sit here and wait for my friend, my little niece to go. Thank you so much for this article.
July 25, 2022
Hey there, Ben.
We’re so sorry to hear about your sister’s dog, but we’re glad you found the article comforting. And you’re right — they definitely aren’t “just” dogs.
We wish you and your sister the best.
August 4, 2022
I’m so sorry for the loss of your pet. I hope you and your family feel better!
July 21, 2022
We just recently put our poor old man down this week. It hurts terribly! He was the best dog ever! Over the last year you could tell he was showing his age he was almost 15 years old. But as I was reading this article he honestly didn’t show many signs. He was eating and drinking great even the day he passed. But his body was tired. His heart and mind did not want to stop being with us. He was starting to have a hard time getting up but always did. He was even still trying to run, and always right behind us. But a few days before I noticed when we went outside he would want to lay down and not be right there. And just the look was I’m getting tired momma. I knew then he was telling me. Because before that I was wondering how do I know when it’s time. I didn’t want to make him suffer. And reading some use articles to get a sense of what to look for. But he really didn’t show any signs just that he was aging. So it really made it hard to determine if it was really time or just aging.
But anyways the vet came to the house and did it. And she said that she barely got some of the medicine in and he was gone. She said he was tired and was ready. It did make me feel better knowing that. Because it wasn’t as obvious and I wouldn’t have wanted to keep him going for my own selfless needs. But it’s definitely hard getting use to the new normal!
July 22, 2022
Hey there, Heather. We’re so sorry to hear about your pooch.
All dogs are individuals, who exhibit different signs as the time approaches, which is part of the reason it is so important to work with your vet and listen to your dog-owner intuition.
Please take care of yourself during this transition, and be sure to check out some of our resources regarding dog loss.
August 4, 2022
I’m so sorry for you and your family. I hope you get better. I wish you the best!
June 7, 2022
Thank you for this article. It’s contains lots of good information, but I completely disagree that “natural passing” is on the same scale as euthanasia. Dogs often pass naturally in pain and misery, and allowing a natural passing is more often for the benefit of owner than for the dog. Sorry, it’s time to absorb all suffering and make it yours.
Give your dog a dignified, painless passing by euthanasia. I did exactly this to my beloved dog before he reached the suffering associated with natural passing. He went peacefully on his favorite blankets and pillows while eating his favorite snacks. And with his favorite person–me–in his arms.
Was it difficult to do, and would I rather he went peacefully in his sleep? Of course, but that’s not likely. So, instead, I made him peaceful by putting myself through the agony of euthanasia. Natural passing is often a cruel ending..
June 8, 2022
Hey there, Brad. You’re correct that natural passing can sometimes involve pain or discomfort, but there are other times in which it does not.
That’s why we recommend discussing the issue with your vet.
But thanks for checking out the site and sharing your thoughts.
June 4, 2022
Thank you for having this available.
June 6, 2022
Sorry you needed to search for an article like this, Agu, but we’re glad you found it helpful.
We hope you and your four-footer are doing OK.
March 13, 2022
I found my beautiful Pomeranian on a NYC Subway, in 2007. I thought he was a rat, literally. He was beaten, bloody, battered and broken. I started his healing with love and training to help him with his MOJO. Metro turned out to be the BEST dog I could have ever dreamed of. He came everywhere with me, including work. We went on so many adventures together. I live on the beach, so I took him for long walks everyday. He is my joy. He is about 17 now and has been declining over the last 2 years. I’m really struggling with sending him over the bridge, he still loves to eat, but his quality of life is near zero. I was praying God would take him, but I know the time has come. My heart is aching so badly I can hardly breathe. I’m going to make the appointment for later this week so I can spend a little more time with him and feed him a nice juicy steak. Thank you for listening and for your column.
March 14, 2022
Hey there, Laura.
We’re so incredibly sorry to hear that Metro seems to be nearing the end. But, we’re glad you found him and gave him a wonderful life for 17(!) years.
Be sure to take care of yourself during this tough time and focus on all of the good memories the two of you made.
We’re sending digital hugs to you and Metro!
February 7, 2022
I’ve had to euthanize a few dogs in my life, mostly due to health issues, however I have one exception.
In 2018 I rescued Jack, a black and white shih tsu from the pound. I had to go out of town and couldn’t take Jack with me, so I entrusted him to a friend of mine. This friend was at work and her nephew let Jack out of the back yard. What I didn’t know at the time is she was moving to a town an hour’s drive away from me, so when I was contacted by animal control saying they had Jack and he was found on I-95 south, I was beyond shocked.. My so-called friend had moved an hour north, without my knowledge and my old dog (about 14 years old) was traveling down an Interstate to come home.
A couple of weeks later, Jack showed all the signs that his life was ending. He was lethargic, no appetite, major flea problem, had to be in constant physical contact with me, so I wrapped him up in an old nightshirt of mine for comfort and just held him… I told him it was okay to let go and I’d see him again on the Rainbow Bridge. Jack passed away peacefully in my arms.
February 7, 2022
Hey, Tara. Sorry to hear about Jack’s passing, but we’re glad you were there with him when he did.
Thanks for sharing your story.
January 21, 2022
How do I grieve the eventual loss of my 9 month old puppy who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. My cockapoo baby declined so quickly and it hit us like a tonne of bricks. He was a playful happy pup less than a week ago. Only to find him vomit then suddenly lose his appetite stop drinking water and become severely lethargic.
No one can tell us how he got here and we are in absolute shock. He needed Critical care, blood transfusion and steroids and we can’t see any improvement.
It hurts me so much to see him like this at such a young age. I’m not sure we can afford nor he can handle staying alive with all these drugs and treatments. I’m at a loss for words and just so angry that something so rare had to come so soon.
January 21, 2022
Hey there, Stephen. We’re so incredibly sorry to hear about your pup’s diagnosis.
It’s always sad to lose any dog, but it’s especially heart-breaking to lose one who’s so young.
There’s not much we can say right now that will help, but we would encourage you to check out some of our dog loss resources.
In the meantime, just do everything you can to make him comfortable and cherish every second you have together.
January 14, 2022
I had to have my 7 year old westie, Roxy, put to sleep in 2011 due to lymphoma. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. But I was still able to be with her up until the very end. It was so hard to watch but I wanted to be there for her the way she had been there for me.
And now sadly my almost 17 year old schnauzer mix, Ringo Starr, is coming to the end of his life. But this time around seems harder for me. He’s been my best friend and buddy for so long. I can’t imagine not having him here with me anymore. But his health has been declining for awhile and very quickly just in the last few weeks and days. It’s hard to see him like this and struggling so much. I’ve made the decision to take him to the vet in the morning and have been saying our goodbyes. I really don’t want to do this. My heart literally feels like it’s breaking. He’s lived such a long life. I can only hope that I was the best dog mom I could’ve possibly been for him. He’s truly been such a blessing and the best companion I could’ve ever asked or wished for. I am forever grateful for God bringing us together.
Thank you for providing this space to allow me to write about my experience and process my feelings.
January 14, 2022
We’re so sorry to hear about Roxy’s passing as well as Ringo’s deteriorating health and the decision you’re having to make.
Just about everyone on the K9 of Mine team has been there, and we know how hard this is.
We wish you the very best of luck and would encourage you to check out some of our resources for dealing with the loss of a pet.
December 29, 2021
We have a 11 year old German…when I tell you is gorgeous, its not enough. We took her to the vet as we noticed she was eating but loosing muscle mass. The vet told us that her kidneys were not in good shape and that dialysis 3x a week was an option to prolong life. Sandy is just not that type of dog. She knows when she is going to the vet and used to play dead. so being stuck repeatedly is not for her. So we have tried to keep her as comfortable as possible but over the last couple of weeks her interest in food is completely going. we have tried everything she loves and nothing. She looks like skin and bones and we just dont know what to do to get her to eat. she still wags her tail when she sees the kids but wags from her bed. we think her time is near. all i can do is cry.
December 27, 2021
Thank you for writing this article to help guide us. My sweet furbaby Tiny was almost 14yrs old. She passed away last night in my arms at home where she was comfortable with her momma. I’m gonna miss her so much. I’m grateful I was able to be with her through it all even though my hearts broken. Your article helped me. Thank you. Forever missing my Tiny, my sweet chihuahua!!
December 29, 2021
We’re so incredibly sorry to hear about Tiny’s passing, but we’re glad she was in your arms at the time.
Please check out some of our dog loss articles — they may prove helpful in this difficult time.
We wish you the very best during this difficult time.
November 2, 2021
Reading this as helped me so much, thank you
November 3, 2021
Glad you found it helpful, Amanda. Best of luck.
August 18, 2021
ooo thats a lot of imformation on dogs
August 19, 2021
That’s what we’re here to provide!
July 28, 2021
We have had two loving dogs last year our one girl names Makenna developed diabetes she was a calvchant (spelling) gave her daily shorts as vet prescript but she just stop eating, walking an had to carry her out side to do her dutie. In March It was heart broken when my wife took her to vet an called me saying that after talking to vet time to let her go. My wife came home an told me she could not be there. I hurried to get to the vet an I held her an kept talking to her as the vet put her down never knew I could cry so much missing her. Think about her a lot. We also have a shitzu that just turned 16 an he is slipping away slowly I really want him to go in his sleep at home with us just can not go thru what we had to do for Makenna. He failing over alot eating only one meal an sleeps constantly. So sad.
July 28, 2021
So sorry to hear that, Dan.
We’ve all been there and understand what you’re going through. Just try to keep her as comfortable as you can and make the most of your remaining time together.
June 13, 2021
My baby girl of 14.5 yrs has been declining last 4 weeks… last visit I could NOT have her Euthanized. I want her home with me. I am getting negative remarks that I am being selfish and Inhumane ! She has lost interest in everything and not eating well! I am already grieving badly but I can’t take her to be Euthanized! I hover her pain meds and she is eating cooked chicken for the queen she is!!
Am I making her suffer? Am I being heartless?
I am at wits end how to let her go?? Please guide me
June 14, 2021
First of all, we’re really sorry that you’re in this situation. We’ve been there, and it certainly is a hard time — especially after being with a pooch for so long.
It doesn’t sound like you’re being heartless at all. You know your dog best, and only you can determine when it’s time.
That said, you certainly don’t want her to suffer, either, and it does sound like she’s not doing well (“she has lost interest in everything and is not eating well.”)
We’d recommend talking things through with your vet, and just taking things on a day-by-day basis.
We wish you the very best of luck during this difficult time.
June 8, 2021
I feel my best friend is at the end. he has had several seizures and doesn’t walk with good coordination any more. He is even not wanting to sit as much near me anymore and wants to be by himself at times and does have some twitches every so often. He often twitches when he hears loud sounds and even barking at other dogs doesn’t seem to bring him joy anymore
June 9, 2021
That’s heart-breaking, G.
So sorry that you and your pooch are going through this. Just try to keep him comfy and make the best of your remaining time together.
Please give him some scritches for us.
May 5, 2021
My best friend is dying of cancer. Everyone tells me to watch for a sign. Last night I dreamed he saved my life I think that’s my sign. His appetite is gone and he is sleeping alot. He struggles to get up and no walks funny. The tumor is on his flank/hip. The article was so helpful and my buddy’s appointment is Thursday May 6th at 3:30. He is a rescue dog and I never ever regretted bringing home a stinky matted dog. After 4 hrs in a groomers tub I didnt recognize him. Having to make hard decisions in life is part of life but this is brutal. Tomorrow he heads to the Rainbow Bridge.
March 29, 2021
Thank you for this article. Our 16 year old dog is going down hill quickly. This helps our decide making much easier.
March 29, 2021
Sorry you’re going through this, Claudia. But we’re glad you found the article helpful.
February 18, 2021
This article has been very helpful to me. My dear Pup of 13 yrs old is in the process of passing away. It is written very well and kindly. No judgement or anything. It just helps to know there is information from someone who cares regarding the passing of our little buddy. Thank you
February 18, 2021
We’re so sorry to hear about your pooch, but we’re glad you found the article helpful.
Saying goodbye is truly heartbreaking. We just hope that you and your pup enjoy the time you have left together.
Sending supportive vibes your way.
March 3, 2021
I’m so sorry you’re going through this terrible time. I lost my beloved best friend Max, one month ago. It was very hard for me. We had to euthanize him as he had bladder cancer. If you are euthanizing you pet make sure to take the time you need with him after he passes. The vet rushed us and I didn’t speak up and ask for a little more time and I regret it every day.