Death is a difficult part of life, especially when it comes for someone close to you, like a family member. That is usually what dogs become, when they spend a long time inside your house, living by your side. Sometimes, we don’t want to see the signs indicating that the family’s best friend is heading towards his death. But it is better to do so, in order to help him live his last days more comfortably.
Identifying Death Approaching
It can be difficult to identify the symptoms indicating our dog is dying. These animals tend to hide them, to protect themselves. It is in their DNA, as they learned through their evolution process, that a weak dog can be banished from the group or become a prey to other animals.
Because of this, the first step is to establish whether your dog is simply not lost. Some dogs hide when they are dying, while others are lost and thought dead, when they are not. In the U.S. alone, nearly 700K dogs are lost every year, but luckily there are several solutions to this problem and ways and means to find your dog quickly and without too much effort on your part.
The simplest and most effective way to track your dog is to have it microchipped. Microchipping is a safe, painless procedure involving inserting a small—approximately the size of a grain of rice—traceable computer chip under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. This is a simple procedure performed by a vet with a needle.
Once chipped, many online platforms offer access to wide networks of local online resources with audiences that can help reunite you with your lost dog. Always ensure your contact information on the microchip is fully up-to-date, and state that your dog is microchipped on any fliers or posters that you might distribute.
However, a dog dying from old age or from sickness, will usually show symptoms, weeks and even months before the time comes for him to rest in peace forever. It is important to be able to identify this coming event, so that you can decide if you would rather not have him suffer (euthanasia) or if you would like him to stay home, for as long as possible, while keeping him comfortable and loved.
Signs to Look For:
Your dog stops eating
If your dog doesn’t show much interest in food anymore, it is a definitive sign that something is wrong, as eating is one of their favourite moments in life. You will need to take him to his vet, who can tell you if he is just sick or heading towards his last day on earth.
You can also tell by the fact that the dog is vomiting. Again, you’ll need his doctor to confirm that he is dying and not just sick, as the latter would be good news for you.
Your dog always looks tired
If your dog is not eating, it will result in a lack of energy. If he is also vomiting, then his strength will leave him even more rapidly. If your dog goes to rest in unconventional locations for him, or if he doesn’t get up to play anymore that is a definite sign that something is wrong. When they arrive at the end, some dogs can’t even lift their head anymore. This slow decline might last a while, so make sure that wherever he likes to lie, he is warm and comfortable.
Your dog has difficulty moving around the house
As your dog gets older, he will lose some of his coordination, the same way humans do. However, if he is unsteady and can barely move from one point of the house to another, that indicates that he’s become too weak and he will not last for much longer (unless, of course, he is just sick).
Your dog shows no interest at all in anything around him
Dogs are usually well aware of their environment and react to any movement. If your dog doesn’t show interest in what is going on around him, it is another sign that he is slowly slipping away. As they get closer to death, a dog will withdraw from humans and other animals. It is a sign its body is starting to shut down. They usually prefer not to be disturbed, so try to respect that.
Your dog can’t wait to go outside to pee
One of the first organs of the dog to fail, is the bladder. He can’t control it anymore and so he pees inside the house. He may even do so in the bed where he lies. If that is the case, you will need to attend to the dog and clean him every time this happens, so that he doesn’t start developing sores.
Your dog is twitching or shaking
Near the end, the dog might suffer from convulsions. If you see him twitching and shaking lightly, it is involuntarily. He may also get cold as his system is shutting down, more and more. Get him a blanket to keep him warm.
What You Should Do When You Know Your Dog is dying?
As we mentioned earlier, when your dog is dying you can either choose euthanasia or keep him till his last moment. This choice is personal. Of course, if the dog is really suffering, some people will think it is better to save him from the pain, by ending it sooner than later. Just make sure you are comfortable with the decision you make, before taking it.
If you decide to keep your dog at home and let him live his last days with you, make sure that you take care of his needs. Make him comfortable, wherever he decides to lie down. Provide him with more blankets, as his body temperature will go down. Make sure that if he urinates or poops, you wash him and his blankets and cushions rapidly, so that he is kept clean. Finally, give him as much love as you can, by caressing him, but give him his space if you feel he needs it.