How to Know When Your Dog is Dying:15 Signs Your Dog is Dying

It’s hard to imagine the agony and heartache of losing a dog, but it happens all the time. Caring for a dying dog is difficult and heartbreaking but knowing how to identify when a dog is about to die can give you more hope of helping your pet before it’s too late.

15 Critical Signs that Indicates Your Dog is Dying

How to Know When Your Dog is Dying

In this article, we will be discussing 10-15 signs that show your dog is dying.


A dog’s appetite will usually be one of the first indicators whether or not something is wrong. If a dog becomes lethargic and no longer wants to eat, this is a strong sign that the time may be coming soon for your pet to pass away.

So it is important to be aware of this. Just remember that sometimes dogs will refuse to eat due to not feeling well, weather changes, and more, so if you notice your dog’s appetite has dropped but he or she seems healthy.

Otherwise, giving them a couple of extra days to get back on track is generally a good idea before considering the possibility of something being wrong.


One of the most common signs that a dog may be approaching death is diarrhea or constipation. If a dog shows signs of diarrhea or constipation, it is important to take immediate action by taking the pet to the vet.

This is especially true if the dog has been lethargic as well. Dogs will often have diarrhea or constipation before they become seriously ill.

Bloating can also be an indication that something is very wrong, specifically with bowel obstructions or intestinal issues.


Another sign of a dog dying is weight loss. If your dog has been losing weight rapidly and no longer has an appetite, this can be a sign of illness or an underlying disease, in which case, you need to contact a veterinarian.

If you notice your dog has lost a significant amount of weight, it is important to take them straight to the vet’s office as soon as possible.


Another sign that a dog may be approaching death is reduced movement. If a dog has suddenly become lethargic, is no longer keeping up on his normal exercise schedule, and has not been eating well, it is important to take him to the vet.

This is a sign that could be attributed to some underlying illness, so if you notice these signs, it’s best to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.


Another sign that a dog may be ill is an itchy skin eruption. This often happens if a dog has an underlying disease or bacterial infection.

Keep in mind, dogs tend to lick their wounds frequently, so any bumps and rashes that are not healing as quickly as normal should be investigated by your vet to make sure there is no underlying condition that needs medical attention.


If a dog seems depressed, lethargic, or loses energy, his or her overall appearance could also be indicative of something more serious happening to your pet.

A dog’s face may change, especially with older dogs, so it is important to be aware of this. If a dog suddenly changes in appearance and is lethargic and disinterested in normal activities like running around or playing.

It is a sign that something could be very wrong with your pet, so it is important to take them to the vet immediately.


Swelling of the head, neck, or legs are signs that something is wrong in those areas. If a dog is exhibiting anything like this, it’s important to take action if possible and take the pet to a vet immediately.

This may be a sign of an internal injury or other serious illness which needs immediate attention, so it’s best to take precautionary steps to ensure the dog gets the care they need as soon as possible.


A buildup of blood in the stool can be an indicator that something is wrong, perhaps even a tumor or some kind of bowel obstruction.

If you notice blood, it is best to take your dog for a checkup and to have the stool checked out as well. A buildup of blood in the stool can also be a sign of intestinal bleeding and irritation, which can happen with other conditions as well.

As always, if you notice a lot of bloody stools or diarrhea, it is best to take your dog to the vet immediately.


If your dog becomes very aggressive or unwell, it may be an early indicator that they are starting to die.

This can be caused by a number of factors, but often ends up being due to an underlying illness or injury that is not visible on the outside.

If you notice your dog is getting more aggressive, it is important to seek immediate veterinary help.


Gastric dilatation is when your dog’s stomach fills with gas and distends, causing the dog to become extremely uncomfortable.

This can be caused by a number of issues, which may include changes in diet (such as changing to an all-meat diet), parasites, or even changes in activity level.

If your dog suddenly becomes very uncomfortable, it is important to take them to the vet for a check-up.

Related Post: How to Massage Gas Out of Dog?


Dogs can develop coughing for several reasons, so before assuming that the dog is about to die, you should try to determine the cause of the cough first.

However, it should be noted that if a dog’s physical condition has deteriorated enough to be coughing up any blood, it is a strong indication that death could be approaching very soon, so try to get the dog to the vet immediately.


If you notice your dog is lethargic and also has a hard time getting up, this is a clear sign that something is wrong.

If your dog is starting to feel weak or tired, it’s important to seek immediate vet care as soon as possible. If the symptoms are mild, take the dog to the vet immediately.

If it has gotten severe enough to put the dog in a coma or lose consciousness, get them there immediately as well.


During the end stages of a dog’s life when the pet is approaching death, the animal can start to shed large amounts of hair.

If a dog has been shedding constantly for no apparent reason, it’s likely that they’re going through the last of their life, especially if you’ve noticed any of the other signs on this list.


If a dog begins to lose coordination or has difficulty walking, showing signs of dizziness and not being able to stand up, there is a good chance that the dog is about to pass away.

Again, there are many possible causes for these symptoms, but if the dog has experienced any other serious symptoms along with worsening condition and loss of coordination, then it is likely that death will be approaching soon.


Dogs love spending time with their families, but if they seem to want to be left alone more often than usual, it could be a sign that it is time for your dog to pass.

It’s important not to take this as a sign that the dog is angry with you. Dogs tend to withdraw into themselves before they leave us due to depression and loneliness.


Dogs can have difficulty breathing for several different reasons. It could be due to pneumonia, lung disease, respiratory infection, or more.

If your dog suddenly starts having a difficult time breathing and is wheezing when breathing, it means that something is wrong, and you need to get it checked out immediately.

FAQs About Signs Your Dog Is Dying

Here are some questions some people ask about when their dog is dying:

What are the first signs of a dying dog? 

This is not the same for every pet. There are many different symptoms depending on the reason for their death, but most include things like breathing strange, loss of appetite, loss of bodily functions, etc.

How does a dog act whenever they are close to death?

Again, this is different for each dog. They may act abnormally than usual, be confused, want to hide, etc.

How do I tell if my dog might only be sick?

Make a vet appointment ASAP. They will do a complete checkup of the dog and determine if it has something they can fix or treat.

How long does it take for a dog to die?

This is different depending on the issue causing the death. It can happen in a few seconds as in a sudden car accident or they can go downhill over a few weeks or months if dying of something like cancer.

How do I make my dog comfortable if he is dying?

The best way is through pain management and keeping up their normal daily activities if they are able. Talk to your vet about how to manage their pain, etc.

What should I do with my dog’s body?

There are two choices: burial (either on your own property or pet cemetery) or cremation (done at the vet’s office).

How can I manage my own grief?

Losing a pet is hard and there are actually support groups to help you get through the process.

Do dogs know they are dying?

It is hard to tell if they actually understand they are dying, but they do know if they feel pain, etc., and may wish to be comforted, and some dogs will try to hide as it is a throwback to needing to avoid predators.

Do dogs want to die alone?

Likely they don’t want to be alone and would prefer to be comforted by someone, but in some cases as in question 8, they do try to hide.

Do any dogs ever just die peacefully in their sleep?

This may happen to an older dog, but in most cases, it is best to try to ease their pain via euthanasia so they don’t suffer.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the signs that your dog is dying are easy to spot, but it is important to get them checked out as soon as possible by a vet.

If you see any of the following symptoms, it is time to take your dog to the vet: lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing or heart rate, seizures, and coma. With prompt treatment, most dogs make a full recovery from deathwatch syndrome.

Your pet’s health is precious and can’t be taken for granted, so be sure to catch these signs and get them help before it’s too late if you enjoyed this article be sure to share your thoughts.

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