How to tell if Your Dog is Dying

You love them. They are by your side day and night, often for years on end. Our dogs become one of the most loyal beings we can think of. Millions of households and families form bonds with their dogs that are unbreakable.

They are with us during sickness, death, and tragedies. They comfort us when we least expect it and give us unconditional love we often come to depend on. That’s why when it’s time for them to need us during the slow end of their lives, it’s the hardest thing we can ever face.

Signs Your Dog Is Dying

There’ll come a time when you have to ask yourself, how do you know if your dog is dying? It’s the last question you want to form in your mind. You know something is wrong, but don’t have an exact idea of how to approach the situation.

For some pet owners, it unleashes bottled emotions you’ve ignored while watching the love of your life suffer in pain that’s telling you the end is near. You’re not ready for what’s coming in the next few days, but we know, we must do something.

No interest

It was easy to get your dog invested in a game of throw and catch with their regular tennis ball filled with their spit.

You did this on a regular weekday in their favorite park they couldn’t stop running around in circles upon arriving.

Now when you bring them to the same park, and get the ball out to throw it, your dog watches the ball fly from your hand and land in a patch of grass.

They are still at your side and have no interest in running after the ball they used to sprint after. Instead, they stare at you looking lost and confused about the whole situation.

This is one of the first signs your dog could be dying. Anytime they don’t partake in the regular activities you’ve engaged in for years or days, then you know there is something wrong.

Loss of interest in the activity and playing games can tell you if your dog is dying.


Every pet owner knows their dog’s strength and endurance. It’s nothing for them to jump high in the air after a toy, and bring it back to you.

However, when you do these simple games and they return the ball exhausted, it’s a sign they’re experiencing unexpected and serious fatigue.

They need more breaks along with a lot more water throughout the day. Your dog may lie down and pant longer than expected.

Pay attention to these changes so you’re aware of what’s going on. Fatigue is one of the number one clues your pet is slowing down and a sign an old dog is dying.

Bladder control

We train most pets to empty their bowels in the backyard or find a spot that’s appropriate when out on a walk. Yet before you can get out the door, your dog has used the restroom in the corner of your office.

This strikes you as odd as they’re known to never do this at all. What you could witness is the loss of bladder control. You might wake up to pounds of waste in different areas of your house.

This is a signal your beloved pet could be on its way out of life.


Most owners know their dog’s appetite and when it’s off, there’s a signal of alarm. Most dogs eat ferociously when food is dropped into their bowl.

They can often wake you up with a wet lick to the face letting you know it’s feeding time at 4 a.m. It’s scary to fill any dog’s bowl with their favorite food and sniff it, then walk away.

They have no appetite and would prefer to take a nap in a nearby corner. Food is no longer a high priority in their life and they seem to be able to live without it.

Take your dog to the vet or call to share what is happening.


Dog owners are accustomed to their particular dog’s breathing. That’s why when you hear ragged breathing or they struggle to catch their breath, you know something might be terribly wrong.

Any dog’s breathing that seems off and difficult for them to manage might be dying. Pay attention and be aware of their patterns to determine how off their breathing actually is.

Older dogs will show signs of this behavior. Do yourself a favor, and for the dog’s sake, take them to the veterinarian. This helps confirm any suspicions you might have that they’re on their way to passing.

A dog’s breathing should be smooth and not have any shallow moments. Any time you hear rough breathing, it’s a sign something is not right and you need to act fast.

Bad Skin

Many dogs have fluffy, beautiful, and healthy skin. It’s easy to comb them and notice a little shedding.

When a dog is dying, its fur or skin isn’t in the best shape. It’s possible you’ll notice a lot of shedding.

This could be a sign your dog is dying and need more attention than ever. You can follow up with their doctor to make sure.

No pet should experience clumps of their hair coming out for whatever reason. They might also leave more hair on a particular chair or couch. This also happens when combing or brushing them.

Comforting a Dying Dog

Once the doctor has confirmed your dog is dying, it’s time to take precautions. Your goal from this point on is to make them as comfortable as you can.

Take time out to make sure they have the appropriate water you’ve usually given them. Provide them with blankets to keep them warm, especially if you see any shivering during different weather conditions.

Remain close

Now you’re aware of their diagnosis, it’s critical you remain close to your dog. From this point, they’ll need you every second of the day.

If you have a busy work or home life, then consider clearing your calendar so you’re there to provide comfort. It’s a serious time and you need to make sure you’re available.

Dogs sense their owner’s emotions so it’s best to not unload with tears or sadness. You must maintain a calm demeanor so you don’t scare them or let them feel alarmed.

New people or places

In the past, it sounded like a great idea to show everyone your dog. This is never a good idea during your dog’s dying days. Limit these people to close family and friends.

Refrain from new introductions and don’t bring them to areas they’re not familiar with. The goal is to maintain their comfort zones. New environments only confuse and agitate them.

They could lash out in unfamiliar areas and hurt the people around them. It makes no sense to put them in these types of situations.


Keep them doing their normal activities and don’t throw anything new into their schedule. This creates confusion, and they might lose interest fast.

You want your dog to maintain some activity to keep them going. Use the same active times to keep them focused on the fun of the game. This gives you a chance to witness and monitor all behavior that might take a turn for the worse.

You’ll be ready to jump into action and hopefully call for help. Further, don’t try to push them to do something they’re not used to doing. This could be new tricks or making them do extend rigorous work.


Be on board as to what’s happening with your dog’s medication. This is not the time to slack and not take action.

Talk with the veterinarian in-depth about the exact times to administer all medicines. For dogs facing a life-threatening illness, this is important.

Log all pills or liquids into a spreadsheet, or a notebook you can keep with you at all times. Enter their prescriptions into your smartphone and do research on all medications.

You must understand how they’ll affect their bodies. If your dog has never taken medication, then make sure you understand the side effects. Find out if there’s a healthy alternative to their medication to hopefully keep them around longer.

Speaking Tones

You might have to adjust how you speak to your dog if they are dying. For those facing a few days or months to passing, you might want to change your speaking tone. It should be soft, quiet, and comforting.

Never yell or get upset with your dog during this time. Loud voices can bring them deep sadness and they might reject you. Be aware of how rough you could be speaking with them and not notice.

Any dog suffering from an illness wants to hear loving words from its owners. Practice making sure you are doing this daily and stick to it.

Your dog’s ears might be sensitive. Keep this in mind, every time you call or speak to them either inside or outside your home.


Anytime you’re out with your dog, and they seem to sway to the side, there could be a problem. Owners are the best at knowing their dog’s strengths and abilities.

If they collapse, then it is time to be concerned. Most owners are aware of their dog’s abilities and how fast they can move.

It can be hard to watch them struggle to do simple movements whereas before it wasn’t an issue. Any odd motion behavior that goes on for days is another sign that death is near. It’s best to take your dog in for an examination.

I Think My Dog is Dying: What’s Next?


Once your dog has passed, you need to think about what to do next. We all don’t have the answer and some of us get it completely wrong.

There are too many horror stories of people not properly disposing away of their pets after they’ve died. It’s often done by those too ignorant to understand or value their pet’s death.

The respectful thing to do upon your pet’s passing is considered to either put them to sleep or let them pass naturally. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching decisions we’ll have to make in our lives.

Pet owners are sympathetic to their dogs and how they pass is a big deal. Medication might keep them with you longer, but it also brings them a lot of pain.

You’ll have to decide if you want to have them in that state of mind or let them pass on their own terms.

Burial or cremation

Dog cemeteries are real and there’s no reason to not use them. It’s up to you what fits your tastes. Some people bury their pets in their favorite places to play if allowed.

Finding that perfect burial spot can be a challenge. Pet cremation is also an option. It keeps one’s pet with you at all times.

It’s in the hands of the owner how to approach this issue. Many like cremation because they don’t have to do any digging for a grave.

This can be hard to watch and most owners often break down emotionally.

To them, it’s better to keep a small vase of their pet’s remains on a selected shelf in the home.

It’s heartbreaking for your dog to die. It’s not one of the best moments we can experience in life.

No one looks forward to this and it’s a difficult pill to swallow.

Call or contact a local service to help you make a final decision. They are trained to speak with pet owners who find it too hard when signing off on their pet’s death.

These companies often have the right advice you’ve never considered hearing.

Use these warning signs above to guide you on what your next move is. Our pets are everything and we want them around for years. It never hurts to reach out to professionals.

They can assist you with your dying dog’s situation and make it go more smoothly.

Scroll to Top