Dog Behavior Before Death

We all need to accept that sooner or later dogs have to leave us forever. They’ll be gone one day to a faraway place. Their paw, their smell, and their love will only be alive in memories. It’s often more useful to pick up dog behavior before death so that you’ve accepted the reality and it doesn’t hurt that bad. A sudden shock can be so disturbing that it may take you into a dark hole where you see no light.

The thought of discontinuing life with your canine companion is the worst nightmare. To handle him before and to look after his absence afterward is no easy task. But trust me being mentally prepared can help you during this challenging period. These are also the last days of your furry boy, and also the time to give him the best comfort and care.

So here we’ll discuss the dog’s behavior before death.

dog behaviour before death

Dog’s behavior before death

With ongoing age, every dog grows closer to death. There is an average healthy life your four-legged companion lives after which death pulls him apart from you. How would you know that your old dog is reaching the end of his age?

Just like old-aged humans, our canine companions show signs of old age. They get grey hair and joint problems. Additionally, the organs don’t work as effectively as before. Not just that the energy levels decline compared to the past and the behavior significantly changes too.

What’s more? There will definitely be some sort of sickness or changes that you never noticed before. When these occur altogether you can almost conclude that it’s the dog’s behavior before death. What would you notice?

Signs in a sick dog or elderly dog:

Loss of coordination

You may notice a change in the dog’s gait. There is a loss of balance and muscle control. His eyes and tongue also don’t coordinate. As a result, there is excessive tear production and drooling from the mouth.

Confused state of mind.

The dog wouldn’t be sure what to do. To play or to lie on the floor? To eat or not to eat? Every decision becomes difficult.

Loss of appetite

In his final days, a dog starts eating much less than before. What are the signs? He turns his face away from food which is the most classic dog behavior before death. Even if you come up with their favorite treat they won’t eat it, and that almost confirms he’s not well.

This is primarily due to a lack of movement and exercise. Obviously, a dog lying all day doesn’t consume much food.

Secondly, a dog who stops eating like before is mostly in pain and discomfort. Moreover, as dogs age, their olfactory system isn’t as strong as before. Thus, they don’t get excited at the smell of food compared to the past.

Weight loss

Loss of weight is directly linked with loss of appetite. If the dog isn’t taking the necessary daily dose of calories, do you think he’d still be healthy? He’d be losing weight faster than ever!


Dogs can have dysphagia which means they are unable to pass anything down the esophagus. The poor boy throws up everything he eats and eventually becomes dehydrated. Indeed a difficult phase to handle.

No longer drinking water

Dehydration is the most common sign indicating the dog’s last days. The dog would look lethargic with a severe lack of energy.

Dull eyes and dull coat

Due to dehydration, the dog loses the shine in his eyes and on his coat. The coat needs extra nutrients such as essential oils and omegas to shine. In a calorie deficit, the dog looks old and weak.

Least interested in enjoying/ non-energetic

It’s very sad to see this but you’ll notice the energy graph reaching its lowest point in the last few days. Going out on walks, playing, jumping over the treats, nothing would make the doggo excited. Instead, you’d notice him lying at the same place for hours. Even if the poor boy decides to stand up, he falls because of his fatigued muscles.

Always tired

Naturally due to calorie deficit the dog lacks the energy to do anything. He is in a constantly tired state.

Muscle twitching or mild convulsion

These occur as a result of nervous system disorder which is never easy to treat. If a disease has laid its tentacles in the brain, it’s next to impossible for the dog to recover.

Irregular respiratory rate

Inhalation and exhalation of air become so difficult that there are long intervals. An irregular breathing pattern is for sure alarming and to see the dog in this pain is another struggle.

A needy behavior either to stay alone or never leave your side (the unusual side of him showing a change of behavior)

Mostly dogs decide to stay in a quiet place where no one would see them. However, in other cases, a dog would feel more protected when he’s with you.

In either of these, he shows a behavior you had never witnessed before. More than his behavior, your gut says that something is wrong with the dog.

A change in your dog’s odor

Many complicated diseases such as those involving the liver can give out an odor. The odor indicates a complicated problem, mostly untreatable.

Decreased control over bowel and bladder movements.

Not necessarily with every dog but most dogs lose control over their bowel movements, they may pass out anywhere at any time

Diarrhea is very common in old dogs. Now, why is the dog having these accidents? The answer is very simple it’s because they no more have control over the anal or urinary sphincter, thus the muscles stay in a relaxed state.

Once you start to notice these signs it shows that your dog is going to leave you within three months to a few days. All these signs and symptoms indicate chronic diseases that become incurable with increased complications and especially growing age. Thus, it gets to be the time you prepare yourself for one of the hardest phases in your life, saying farewell to an old fellow.

The best piece of advice at this time is to call the family veteran that will help you understand the process and mentally prepare you. After all, he has been looking after the dog with you. Hasn’t he?

Note: some diseases like invasive cancer can result in earlier death than any other aging process or condition.

Can a dog sense it’s going to die?

THE ANSWER IS YES, dog behavior before death truly speaks for it. Normally dogs are full of life, ever ready to go out with you. Sadly, a highly energetic dog turns into a lazy dog who doesn’t like interacting or playing anymore. The dogs often like to restrict themselves to calm and quiet places having more time with themselves than the family members.

Why is the dog isolating itself? There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the dogs choose a spot to hide in order to have some protection. Additionally, once they reach this point they’re usually so tired that they’re unable to get up and walk back. Dogs who are unable to fight, hide, that’s a rule from the canine world. He isolates for protection.

It’s sad knowing that the dog chooses to hide rather than stay with you but he can’t help it. It’s his natural instinct.

How to comfort my dying dog?

Pets don’t feel the end of life the same way humans do. They are patterned to do a handful of tasks all their life and that’s all. Thus, dogs don’t dread death as we do.

To fulfill our duties as pet parents, what should we do once we accept that the upcoming damage might be irreversible?

  • The first part of saying the final goodbye is to provide the dogs with all sorts of care that is possible. Cover them up in a blanket and make sure they’re comfortable. Try to remain calm and comforting.
  • Set up a quiet space for the dog where he doesn’t have to go up and down. Everything he needs should be accessible at a reachable distance.
  • Make sure the house is quiet.
  • Don’t introduce your dog to new people or places, this can disturb him.
  • The dog’s bowel movements may become involuntary towards the end of life. Try to keep him clean and get the necessary medicine.
  • Keep the dogs hydrated. Also, add ions to his diet.
  • Try to give home-cooked meals.

Some dogs choose to stay by our side no matter what happens. Their sad eyes won’t let us go away, and if that’s what they want we should stay by their side. You know these moments will not last forever, let’s live them until they last? The farewell is indeed tough.

Dog dying process

You’ll have to have a big heart and notice changes that confirm the death. It’s not going to be easy but you can make it through!

The dog’s size will decrease since the air has been expelled out of the lungs. The body will be in a completely relaxed zone. Moreover, if the eyes are open they will look lifeless and won’t respond to any changes. The body turns hard and stiff.

If you check for the respiratory rate and heart rate you wouldn’t detect anything and if there is no sign of life for the next fifteen days, finally the pet has reached its final destination.

My dog died. What to do with the body?

First and foremost, accept these are your last moments with him, gain enough courage to leave his side forever.

Now if the dog’s eyes are open, close them with care. Did the dog lose control over his bowel or urine control? Clean him up, some people may bathe a dog too.

It’s time to call the vet so he can confirm the death. I know it’s just confirmation, but count this as a duty, a farewell obligation

You may have permission to bury the pet on your property. If you don’t want that you can send it for cremation. Cremation can also be arranged by vets.

After Cremation, you receive the ashes that you either keep with yourself or just spread at the crematorium. If you want to save those ashes forever, some companies can turn them into artwork or jewelry pieces.

Another option is a pet cemetery. Every state has this facility

Once the death is confirmed try to put the body to its final place within 24 hours. Why? Just after 12 hours, the dead body starts to give off a decomposing odor.

The next stage in your life will be of grief. Acknowledge it, feel it and finally let it go. Remember you don’t heal until you reveal. Let me tell you a secret, during all this time a good vet is honestly a blessing. He understands your pain and gives you all the guidance and empathy needed for that moment.

Is Euthanasia an option?

At times the dogs are in so much pain, that every minute that passes is a painful obstacle for them, for you, it’s looking at them in pain. In such conditions, death seems an easier option.

What is euthanasia? It is a practice of ending a patient’s life to give an end to his sufferings. When you know that no matter what you do the condition is not going to improve, it is the most difficult yet the right decision to make. However, this should be done by a vet only.

A doctor injects a painkiller first and later a poisonous medicine to give your dog a peaceful long sleep. After this, a dog can twitch, eliminate feces, urine, and even vocalize. But as he takes his last breath you know he’s gone forever. From this sleep he’s never waking up again, it’s time to say the final goodbye.

Summarizing Dog behavior before death

To make things easier to understand, let’s go through the HHHHHMM Scale suggested by Sinn (Dog behaviorist). What does this mean?

The scale refers to:

Hurt. Is the pet’s pain controllable?

Hunger Is the doggo eating like it used to? Is it even eating at all?

Hydration. Has the pet been drinking enough water? Is the coat still shiny? Is his tongue dry and his eyes dull?

Hygiene. Is your pet clean like before? Has he lost control over his bowel movements or urination?

Happiness. Does your pet get excited about treats, walks, or some time together?

Mobility. Does the pet move around on his own? Is he fatigued? Has he lost control over the coordination of muscles?

More good days than bad.

Look for these points and have a conversation with your vet. Unfortunately, if most of these aren’t normal, it’s farewell time.


My advice may not be suitable for now but it will come in handy one day. You may be saying goodbye to a dog who did his best to live and give you some of the best moments of this life. But you can turn this goodbye into a hello after some time. How? By giving shelter to a new dog!

Take your time, do the grieving but if you find a dog being mistreated in a shelter it’s time to give him space. It’s time to take off his misery and give him all the love that you had been holding and his life has been lacking. Open your heart and your arms for a new dog!

Dog’s behavior before death is one thing that indicates he is reaching the end, the other thing that will tell you is your own heart. Your heart will know that the time is near, it will start to sink, It won’t celebrate with you in anything you do. In short, it will signal you something bad is about to happen. The connection and bond you’ve shared for years automatically detect unfavorable changes.

Indeed dog behavior before death is not easy to handle but it’s a test, a Test of our patience and love. Give your dog everything he needs during this time so there are no regrets. Gather up all the courage to face the reality, sooner or later all the people we love to go away. Hold yourself together and make it through!

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