What Do Dogs Do When They Are About to Die: 10 Signs & How to Say Goodbye

what do dogs do when they are about to die

The bond formed with our canine friends is unmatched. Throughout their lives, they become cherished members of our families, offering us their unadulterated love and unwavering loyalty.

In this article, we’ll discuss 10 signs of their end-of-life behavior, and how we can provide them love and comfort during this delicate time.

Saying goodbye to a beloved dog is a heart-wrenching experience, but just like any cherished family member, they deserve a proper farewell.

However, as much as we wish they could stay with us forever, the reality is that our dogs have a shorter lifespan than we do.

Table of Contents

How Do Dogs Act Before They Die: 10 Signs Your Dog Is Dying

We understand how worried you must be about your dog. Seeing our furry friends go through their normal aging process is tough. To help you understand what’s happening with your puppy exactly and take proper action, we’ve made a list of common signs your dog is dying of old age.

1. Appetite Changes

One common sign is a sudden loss of appetite or a significant decrease in food intake. Your dog might not show interest in their favorite treats or meals.

2. Lethargy

If your dog is unusually tired and lacks energy, that could be a sign that something is wrong. They might be less interested in playtime or walks.

3. Difficulty Breathing or Irregular Breathing

Labored breathing or constant panting can indicate distress, so pay attention to their breathing patterns. If your dog’s breathing seems odd, call your vet immediately.

4. Mobility Issues

You might notice your dog struggles to walk, stand, or even get up. They may be experiencing pain or weakness.

5. Incontinence

Your dog might have difficulty controlling their bladder or bowels as they near the end of their life. Your dog can lose control over their bladder, so remember that and have high-quality pee pads on hand.

6. Withdrawal

Some dogs become more distant and less affectionate when feeling unwell.

7. Changes in Gum Color

Check your dog’s gums; if they appear pale or bluish, it could indicate a lack of oxygen circulation.

8. Vocalization

Some dogs may vocalize more than usual, whine, or whimper due to discomfort.

9. Extreme Weight Loss

Significant weight loss in a short period can be a concerning sign. You can also notice changes in your dog’s coat because of their lack of self-care.

10. Seizures or Loss of Consciousness

In some cases, dogs may have seizures or fainting spells before passing away.

Remember that your dog’s symptoms can also be associated with various health issues, such as a chronic illness or terminal illness. So, you should take your elderly or sick dog to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and watch for other signs.

Vets can help determine if your dog is dying, the best action, and comfort your dog during this difficult time.

We know it’s tough, but try to spend quality time with your canine companion, keep them comfortable, and show them lots of love and care. They’ll appreciate having you by their side.

And don’t hesitate to seek professional advice to ensure you’re doing everything possible to support your beloved family pet.

Dog Dying Process: How Long Can It Take?

When our furry friends reach the end of their lives, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. We’ll do our best to explain what you might expect, but remember; it’s always essential to consult your vet for personalized guidance.

Months Before Passing

You might notice changes in your dying dog in the months leading up to passing. They might start losing weight and become dehydrated, and their eyes might not shine as brightly.

Older dogs could also groom themselves less; you might see signs of tummy trouble like diarrhea or vomiting.

Weeks Before Passing

The signs may become more evident as death approaches, around three weeks before. Your dying dog might lose even more weight, and you might notice discomfort or pain.

Their breathing could be affected, and their behavior might change. So, you can notice odd breathing during these weeks. They could also seem confused, clingy, or prefer to be alone, showing signs of anxiety or depression.

Days Before Passing

As your dog’s health declines, you might notice them withdrawing from what’s happening around them. They might not be as interested in things they used to enjoy. They can also lose control over their bladder, which isn’t uncommon.

As your dog reaches death, they could become more restless or, on the other hand, appear stiller than usual. Also, there might be a change in their smell in your dog’s final days.

Remember, each canine companion is unique, and their experience may vary. Still, you must be there for your pup, providing comfort and love.

And, of course, your vet will be the best person to guide you through this process, offering support and advice tailored to your dog’s specific situation.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need someone to talk to or have more questions. We’re here for you.

How to Help a Dying Dog: 12 Helpful Tips

You can provide comfort and make your dog’s last moments as peaceful as possible in various ways. We know this is a hard time for you, and we’re sorry you’re going through this. But now, you must worry about your furry family member and ensure they feel comfortable. Here’s a short end-of-life care guide:

1. Consult Your Vet

Reach out to your veterinarian as soon as you notice any signs that your dog might be nearing the end of their life, especially if they have a terminal illness. Your vet can give you advice tailored to your dog’s health and help you make informed decisions.

2. Comfort and Reassure

Dogs can sense their owners’ emotions. Be there for your pup, show them love, and reassure them that everything will be okay. Spend quality time together, offering gentle pats and soothing words.

3. Create a Calm Environment

Keep your home environment quiet. Avoid loud noises or anything that might stress your dog out further. Make your dog’s time at home as peaceful as possible.

4. Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Offer your dog water frequently, ensuring they stay hydrated. If they have trouble drinking independently, consider using a syringe or a small spoon to help them because drinking water is important.

5. Provide Soft Bedding

Ensure your dog has a soft and comfortable resting place. It’s essential to relieve any pressure points to avoid discomfort.

6. Assist with Mobility

If your dog has trouble moving around, consider supporting them, like using a dog sling or a towel as a makeshift support harness.

7. Monitor Their Temperature

Check your dog’s body temperature. Dying dogs might have difficulty regulating their temperature, so you can use blankets to keep them warm but not too hot.

8. Help with Toileting

If your dog has trouble going outside or loses bowel control, use pee or absorbent pads for old dogs to help them stay clean and comfortable.

9. Keep Their Surroundings Clean

Maintain a clean and hygienic area for your dog to rest. This will help prevent infections and keep them as comfortable as possible.

10. Offer Their Favorite Foods

While some dogs may lose their appetite, others might still enjoy their favorite treats. Offer small, easily digestible, and flavorful foods to keep them nourished.

11. Consider Palliative Care

Palliative care might be an option depending on your dog’s condition. This involves managing pain with pain medication and discomfort to improve your dog’s quality of life during their final days.

12. Know When It’s Time

As difficult as it may be, it’s essential to be aware of your dog’s suffering and know when it’s time to let them go peacefully. Your vet can help you determine if euthanasia is the kindest option.

Remember, you’re doing your best, and your dog knows how much you love them. Trust your instincts and lean on the support of loved ones and experts during this challenging time.

How to Say Goodbye to Your Dog?

Saying goodbye to your dog is incredibly tough. It’s heart-wrenching, but remember, you’ve given your pup so much love and care throughout their life, and they cherish the bond you share. You’re a good pet parent, and when the time comes to say goodbye, here’s a list of steps to help you through this difficult process:

Spend Quality Time Together

Before saying goodbye, spend some special moments with your dog. Take them to their favorite places, play their favorite games, and shower them with affection. Let them know how much they mean to you.

Capture Memories

Take pictures or videos to capture precious memories of your time together. These memories will help you cherish the beautiful moments you shared.

Choose a Calm and Familiar Environment

If possible, say goodbye where your dog feels comfortable and safe, like your home or their favorite spot in the park.

Involve Family and Friends

Surround yourself with loved ones who understand what you’re going through. Their support can be incredibly comforting during this emotional time.

Create a Farewell Ritual

Some people find comfort in creating a farewell ritual to honor their beloved pet. This could involve saying a few words, lighting a candle, or doing something that holds a special meaning for you and your dog.

Stay Strong and Composed

Feeling overwhelmed with sadness is natural, but stay strong for your dog. They can sense your emotions, and being calm can help reassure them.

Talk to Your Dog

Dogs may not understand the words but can sense your tone and emotions. Speak gently and lovingly to them, expressing your gratitude and love to the very end.

Give Them Comfort

Keep your dog comfortable during their final moments. Offer soft bedding, gentle touches, and maybe their favorite blanket or toy.


If your dog is dying and is in pain or suffering, euthanasia may be the kindest option. It allows them to pass away peacefully and without pain. This is especially true for dogs with health issues, such as arthritis, terminal illness, etc.

Consult your veterinarian to understand the process and make the best decision for your dog. (Read more about choosing between euthanasia and natural passing below).

Be Present

Stay with your dog throughout the process, providing love and comfort until the end. Your presence can be reassuring and comforting for them.

Seek Support

It’s okay to grieve and feel sadness. Reach out to friends, family members, or support groups who have experienced similar situations. Talking about your feelings can help ease the pain.

Honor Their Memory

After saying goodbye, take some time to honor your dog’s life meaningfully. You could create a memorial, plant a tree in their honor, or donate to an animal charity.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to say goodbye. Everyone grieves differently, and you should give yourself time and space to heal after your pet passes.

Your dog will forever hold a special place in your heart, and the love you shared will never fade away. We’re here if you need someone to talk to during this difficult time.

Euthanasia or Natural Death: Which is Better?

When your pet is nearing the end of their life, you have two options: euthanasia or natural passing. Each option has positive and negative sides for you and your pet, and choosing the right one during the dying process can be difficult. Let’s take a closer look at both:

Pros of Euthanasia:

  • Pain Relief: Euthanasia ensures your beloved dog’s peaceful and pain-free passing. It’s a quick and painless process, sparing your pet from suffering.
  • Controlled Environment: Euthanasia allows your dog to be in a controlled and comfortable environment, often at a vet clinic, surrounded by loved ones. If you want the process done at home, as your vet if they offer home euthanasia services.
  • Saying Goodbye: Euthanasia allows you to say a proper goodbye, expressing your love and being with your dog during their final moments.
  • Timing: You can choose the timing for euthanasia, preventing your dog from experiencing prolonged suffering.

Cons of Euthanasia:

  • Emotional Strain: Euthanizing a pet can be emotionally challenging for the pet owner, as it means making a tough decision and saying goodbye sooner.
  • Guilt: Some people may feel guilty or question if they made the right choice, even though it was made with the best intentions.

Tips for Choosing Euthanasia:

  • Consult your vet for professional advice and guidance.
  • Consider your dog’s quality of life and whether they’re suffering.
  • Trust your instincts and decide with your pet’s best interest at heart.

Pros of Natural Passing:

  • It’s Natural: Allowing a natural passing means not intervening with the process, letting your dog pass away on their own terms.
  • More Time Together: Choosing natural passing may allow you to spend more time with your dog, cherishing every moment together.

Cons of Natural Passing:

  • Potential Suffering: Natural passing may result in your dog experiencing pain or discomfort, and the process can be unpredictable.
  • Uncertainty: The timing of natural passing is uncertain, which can be emotionally challenging for the pet owner.

Tips for Choosing Natural Passing:

  • Monitor your dog’s condition closely and ensure they’re comfortable.
  • Seek veterinary advice to manage any pain or discomfort your dog may experience.
  • Be prepared for the emotional impact of witnessing your dog’s natural passing.

Ultimately, choosing euthanasia and natural passing depends on your dog’s situation and emotional readiness.

You should prioritize your dog’s well-being and comfort when making this choice. Talk to your vet, lean on the support of loved ones, and take the time you need to make the best decision for your furry friend.

Remember, you’ve been there for your dog throughout their life, and whatever choice you make will express your love and care.

Do You Cremate or Bury a Dog?

We’re here to help you through this tough decision. You have two main methods when saying goodbye to your beloved dog: cremation or burial. And both have good and bad sides, so choose wisely. Here’s a breakdown of each option:


Cremation involves turning your dog’s body into ashes through intense heat. This is typically done in a special facility called a crematorium.

After cremation, you’ll receive your dog’s ashes in an urn or container. This allows you to keep their remains close to you or scatter the ashes in a place that holds meaning for you and your pup.

Some people choose individual cremation for their canine companions, where their dog is cremated alone, ensuring they receive only their pet’s ashes. Others opt for communal cremation, where multiple pets are cremated together, and the ashes aren’t returned to the owners.


If you choose burial, you’ll find a final resting place for your dog’s body. This could be in a pet cemetery, on your property (if allowed by local laws and regulations), or in a place that holds sentimental value for you.

Many people bury their dog in a garden or a special spot where they loved to play or relax. Some may even mark the grave with a headstone or a memorial to honor their dog’s memory.

It’s essential to check local laws and regulations regarding pet burial to ensure you comply with any requirements.

Ultimately, the decision between cremation and burial comes down to what feels right for you and your dog.

Both options offer a way to honor your pet’s memory and keep them close to your heart. Take your time to think about what will bring you the most comfort and closure.

If you’re unsure or struggling with this decision, don’t hesitate to talk to your family, friends, or veterinarian. They can offer support and understanding during this difficult time.

Remember, whatever you choose, your love for your dog will always endure, and they’ll forever hold a special place in your heart.

Is it Normal to Have Funeral for a Dog?

Having a funeral or memorial service for your beloved dog is normal. Our furry friends hold a special place in our hearts. And they’re cherished family members. Just like any family member, it’s natural to want to honor their memory and say a proper goodbye.

A funeral or memorial service allows you and your loved ones to celebrate your dog’s life, share fond memories, and express your love and gratitude for all the joy and happiness they brought into your lives.

It’s a way to acknowledge your dog’s significant role in your family and find comfort in the shared experience of grief.

Here’s a list of things you might consider for a dog’s funeral or memorial:


Choose a location that holds special meaning for you and your dog. It could be in your backyard, a park where you used to walk together, or even at a pet cemetery.

Personal Touches

Incorporate personal touches that reflect your dog’s personality and interests. You could display their favorite toy, create a photo collage of cherished moments, or write a heartfelt tribute.

Invite Loved Ones

Having friends and family members around can provide comfort and support during this emotional time.

Say Goodbye

Take the time to say your goodbyes, share stories about your dog, and express your feelings. It’s an opportunity to grieve together and solace in each other’s company.


Consider creating a memorial for your dog, such as a headstone, plaque, or a special planting in their honor.

Release of Balloons or Lanterns

Some people find comfort in symbolic gestures like releasing balloons or lanterns to let go and send their love to their departed dog.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to have a funeral or memorial for your dog. It’s a personal decision; you should do what feels right for you and your family.

The important thing is to create a meaningful and heartfelt tribute to celebrate the wonderful life your dog lived and the deep bond you shared.

How Do Dogs Act When They’re Dying?

When our beloved dogs approach the end of their life, they might show certain signs. They may become more passive and less active than usual. They might lose their appetite and have trouble eating or drinking. Breathing could become difficult, and they might pant heavily or breathe rapidly.

Some canine companions might show signs of pain or discomfort, and their gums may appear pale or bluish. Additionally, they might become more distant and uninterested in what’s happening around them.

What Are the First Signs of a Dying Dog?

The first signs that a dog is nearing the end of their life can vary, but you might notice weight loss, dehydration, and duller eyes. They may groom themselves less and experience gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or vomiting. These signs might start becoming evident months before their passing.

Do Dogs Say Goodbye Before They Die?

While dogs can’t express themselves as humans do, they might show behavioral changes or become more affectionate as a way of saying goodbye. Some dogs may seek out their owner for comfort and reassurance in their final moments.

Though they may not understand death as we do, they can sense their owner’s emotions and may try to be close to them.

Why Do Dogs Go Off to Die Alone?

In some cases, few dogs may instinctively go off and die alone. This behavior is believed to be a survival mechanism from their wild ancestors. When a dog feels vulnerable or sick, they might seek solitude to protect the rest of their pack. It’s a natural instinct for many dogs.

How Do I Know if My Dog is Dying or Just Sick?

It can be challenging to tell the difference between a seriously ill dog and a dog near the end of their life. If your dog is showing concerning signs like lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, or severe pain, it’s crucial to seek veterinary advice.

A vet can help determine if your canine companion is critically ill and recommend the best action for their condition.

Do Dogs Know When Another Dog Dies?

Many dogs don’t like changes in their environment. They’re also sensitive to the emotions of those around them, including other pets. They might sense something is different when another dog passes away, especially if they were close companions.

They might show confusion or sadness or even look for their departed friend.

Do Dogs Know When Their Owner Dies?

Dogs can form strong emotional bonds with their owners, so they might notice if something is wrong. They might pick up on changes in their dog owners’ behavior, emotions, or daily routines. While they might not fully grasp the concept of death, they can sense that something is amiss.

Do Dogs Cry at End of Life?

Dogs don’t cry tears of sadness like humans, but they might exhibit signs of distress or pain, such as whining, whimpering, or vocalizing more than usual. These vocalizations could be their way of communicating discomfort.

Do Other Dogs Know When a Dog is Dying?

Other dogs in the pack might pick up on subtle changes in the behavior and scent of a dying dog. They might become more attentive or stay close to the dog in their final moments. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can detect changes in hormones and pheromones that indicate something is different.

Is it Better to Stay With Your Dog During Euthanasia?

Staying with your dog during euthanasia is a personal choice. Many pet parents find comfort in being with their furry friends during their final moments, offering love and support till the end. It can provide a sense of closure and reassurance for both you and your dog.

However, if you find it too emotionally difficult, it’s also okay to step out of the room. What matters most is that your dog knows they were deeply loved throughout their life.

Is it Cruel to Euthanise a Pet?

Euthanizing a pet is challenging, but it can be a compassionate choice when your dog suffers, and their quality of life is severely affected. It ensures peaceful passing, especially for older dogs, sparing them from prolonged pain or distress. In other words, euthanasia prevents unnecessary suffering.

Do Dogs Feel Anything During Euthanasia?

During euthanasia, veterinarians typically use anesthesia or sedation to ensure your dog feels no pain or distress. They’ll be calm and relaxed before the euthanasia medication is administered, providing a peaceful passing. It’s like they’re falling asleep forever.

Are Dogs Scared When They’re Euthanized?

Thanks to the sedation given before euthanasia, dogs aren’t scared or anxious. They won’t feel pain, and they won’t be aware of what’s happening.

What Happens to Dog’s Body After Euthanasia?

After euthanasia, your dog’s body is handled with care and respect. Most commonly, pet owners can take the remains home for burial or cremation. Some veterinary clinics offer communal cremation, where multiple pets are cremated together, while others provide individual cremation, where you receive only your dog’s ashes.

What Do Dogs Do When They Think They’re Dying?

When dogs feel unwell or think they’re dying, they may seek a quiet and secluded spot. They might become less active, lose their appetite, and show signs of discomfort. Dogs may also seek comfort from their owners or display unusual behaviors due to their distress.

Do Dogs Get Sad When They’re About to Die?

Dogs may not experience sadness like humans, but they can sense changes in their health and behavior. Some dogs may become more subdued or withdrawn near the end of their life.

What To Do When Your Dog is At the End of Life?

When your dog is at the end of their life, focus on making them as comfortable and loved as possible. Spend quality time together, offer gentle affection, and monitor their well-being. Contact your vet for guidance on managing pain and ensuring comfort.

Can Dogs Sense Death?

Dogs have a remarkable ability to pick up on changes in their environment, including the emotions of those around them. Some dogs may seem more attentive or aware when another pet or person is nearing the end of their life, showing an instinctual understanding of the situation.

What Can I Do With Dog Ashes?

After the cremation process, you have several options for your dog’s ashes, such as scattering the ashes in a meaningful location, keeping the ashes in a keepsake urn, burying the ashes in a pet cemetery, etc. Let’s discuss these options in more detail.

  • Keepsake Urn: Many pet parents keep their dog’s ashes in a keepsake urn. These small and decorative urns allow you to keep a part of your beloved pet close to your heart.
  • Scattering: Some people scatter their dog’s ashes in a meaningful location, such as a favorite park, beach, or garden. It can be a beautiful way to let your dog’s spirit become one with nature.
  • Burial: You can bury your dog’s ashes in a pet cemetery or a special spot on your property if local laws permit it. This provides a final resting place that you can visit and cherish.
  • Memorial Jewelry: Some companies offer to create memorial jewelry containing a small amount of your dog’s ashes. This allows you to carry a tangible memory of your pup wherever you go.
  • Planting a Tree or Flower: Consider using your dog’s ashes as part of a tree-planting ceremony or nurturing a special garden flower or plant. It’s a symbol of growth and life.

Is it OK to Keep Your Dog’s Ashes?

It’s okay to keep your dog’s ashes if that brings you comfort and helps you cope with the loss. Keeping the ashes allows you to connect physically with your pet and honor their memory meaningfully.

Whether you choose a keepsake urn or another special place for the ashes, the decision is entirely up to you and what feels right in your heart.

Remember, the bond you shared with your dog will never fade away, and it’s natural to want to keep their ashes as a symbol of your love and the joy they brought into your life.

Take your time deciding what to do with the ashes, and trust that whatever you choose will be a beautiful tribute to your furry friend.

Closing Thoughts

Saying goodbye to a beloved dog is one of the hardest things we must do as pet parents. It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions, from sadness and grief to love and gratitude for all the wonderful moments you shared.

Remember that you provided your dog with a life full of love, care, and happiness; that bond will remain in your heart forever.

As you navigate this difficult time, lean on the support of your loved ones, friends, and even your veterinarian. They can provide understanding and comfort during this process.

Whether you choose to have a funeral or memorial or opt for cremation or burial, know that it’s a personal decision, and there’s no right or wrong way to say goodbye.

Your dog knew how much they were loved, and they cherished the time spent with you just as much as you cherished them. Take solace in the memories you created, and know that your dog’s spirit will always be with you.

We’re here to listen and support you if you need someone to talk to or have more questions. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you go through the grieving process. It’s okay to feel sad and miss your furry friend deeply.

Allow yourself the time and space to heal, and remember that your dog will always hold a special place in your heart. We’re sending you lots of love and comfort during this difficult time.


  1. My beautiful Cavalier, Bonnie, died two weeks ago. She died naturally, at home, in my arms. I had been thinking about it a bit because she had a severe heart murmur and she was 12-and-a-half years old. That night, she got up at 3 am (and I got up with her), got off our bed with no trouble, walked to the kitchen to get a drink, then collapsed. I went and laid down beside her and talked to her and held her. The thing I wasn’t expecting is that she looked straight into my eyes, right into my soul, then she gave a tiny little whine and died. It sent a shock through my body that I can’t explain. I still cry every day, but this article has helped me enormously and it has given me peace. I thank you with all my heart.
    Warmest wishes

    1. Hello Eileen, I’m truly sorry for your loss. Bonnie sounds like she was an incredible dog. I’m glad our article could help you during this tough time. Losing a pet is hard, but you were there for Bonnie when she needed you most. Take care ❤️

  2. My sweet, loving golden retriever (Trinity) went to go outside April 9, 2024, collapsed in the floor and was gone. I never expected this! I brought her into the world Dec. 14, 2013. I’m fighting cancer and she was my strength to keep fighting. I needed her as much as she needed me. She was my best friend and my heart dog. I’m DEVASTATED without her! She was such an amazing, living girl. All I do is cry. I miss her every second of every day!!!!!

    1. Robin, I’m profoundly sorry for your loss. Trinity sounds like she was a remarkable companion, especially during such a tough time. It’s truly hard to lose such a loving friend. Please know your feelings are understood here, and you’re not alone.

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