How do you know when your dog is dying, and how Safe Guard can help increase life span in your dog
Death is worse for dog owners as their fluffy companions' life span is shorter.
Few dogs pass away from natural causes, and pet owners are often left wondering what's the next cause of action to take.
This part is what the owners often think about, and as the dog approaches the end of their lifespan, most worry on how to say goodbye.
Read on for basic signs to help you prepare for your pet's passing and grieving afterward.
Does a dog know it's dying?
Every dog is different, and death is an individual process. Dog deaths unfold gradually with several stages but not every dog will pass through each step.
Some dogs remain active, up on their feet and eating till their final days, while others sleep more and are sluggish.
In the final hours, dog owners have records of lively energy and sudden appetite that is often short-lived, a classic sign of death.
The only definitive way to gauge a dog's health and dying days is going for vet check-ups, as some signs and symptoms are evident with most dog diseases.
How do you know your dog is going to die soon?
Naturally, due to old instincts from their wild days, dogs tend not to show pain or signs of illnesses as it was deemed a target of predation.
Many dogs will hide the fact of illness, which can make discerning your dog's last days difficult until the very last days.
However, here are a few things to look out for:
- Poor Response to Treatments
The dog's body may stop responding to medication that formerly improved and treated its health conditions as it wears out.
Additional pain relievers will be required for dogs suffering from arthritis and ongoing insulin dose changes for those with diabetes.
Appetite stimulants, in addition to treatments, may fail to work for dogs with cancer leading to health deterioration and weight loss.
- Behaviour Changes
Changes shown by dogs vary. Some will be relentless, move around the house uncomfortably, and never seem to settle, while some may stay still and be unresponsive.
Their sleeping patterns will change, and some may be difficult to handle because of disorientation or pain.
Other dogs often seek human company and comfort from clinginess, but some seek solitude in quiet corners.
Mostly, dogs appear not interested in touch or company, which is normal.
Their bodies begin slowing down, and toys they once loved will have no meaning as this decreases the amount of time they feel like paying.
- Decreased Mobility
It is common for ageing dogs to experience problems with mobility. They may poorly judge distances or practise extra cautiousness walking on slippery floors.
Pain from old injuries or arthritis, declining vision, or loss of muscle mass leading to decreased strength are some significant causes of mobility problems.
This problem progresses gradually from a dog jogging after a ball instead of running to struggling with stairs, getting up after naps, and maintaining standing positions.
Readily availing food and water bowls for the dog will help, so is using harnesses, carts, wheelchairs, and slings for in and out of the house movements.
Also, put incontinence pads underneath the dog while giving them enough water as they can no longer get up and potty or drink.
Dying dogs often have many symptoms of depression, including:
- They become withdrawn
- Change sleeping habits
- Stop doing things they once loved
- Cease responding to attention
Depression is primarily treatable in other situations, but when the dog dies, it may not be quickly addressed and may not respond well to medication.
It is best to speak to a veterinarian about the necessary options.
- Loss of Coordination
Dying dogs often lose motor control and balance. Their nerves and muscles will stop functioning as perfectly as they used to.
This will see them disoriented and shaky when they get up and move around or convulse when lying down. The dog will eminently struggle with steps and slip on non-carpeted surfaces.
Progressively, these signs become worse. At this point, strive to create a safe space for the dog by removing any obstacles they might stumble upon or knock over.
Ramps for stairs and furniture help support the dog's balance. Also, ensure to keep the dog in a quiet, confined, and comfortable place.
Dying dogs commonly lose control of their bladder or bowels and often lie in one place and do not move even to relieve themselves.
The dog may have diarrhoea which is a sign that its internal organs are shutting down. However, this can be due to various treatable reasons like urinary tract infections.
Incontinence may not necessarily be a sign of a dog dying but a normal ageing process, so if your dog suffers this condition and is still jumping and running around, contact your vet.
However, when paired with other symptoms, incontinence develops quickly and may signify the dog's system shutting down.
Keeping the dog and its bed clean and dry, frequent outdoor trips, providing plenty of water, placing pads under the dog if they are no longer mobile, and some medications are excellent ways to go with your pet.
- Extreme Lethargy
A common sign of dying dogs is often lying in less trafficked places, losing interest in walks and toys, and failing to acknowledge their owner's presence.
Other dog issues can cause lethargy, but if old age, different symptoms accompany it, or this has been ruled out, your dog may be approaching the end of its days.
They may lose interest in their water bowls, so try feeding them canned food to increase moisture or add water to their food.
One may also administer water using an oral syringe or squirt bottle, simultaneously squirt small amounts into the dog's mouth to avoid aspiration pneumonia or choking.
- Appetite Changes
Dogs are known to eat anything their owners offer, but at this point, you may offer them the tastiest treat, and they will not eat nor drink.
This means the dog's organs are shutting down, and they don't have hunger or thirst, leading to extreme weight loss.
Loss of appetite is a common sign for almost all dog diseases, and it is essential to rule out other health issues with your vet.
To increase the dog's appetite, try giving foods with solid aromas for better enticement, warm up their meals and hand feed them.
A vet may prescribe appetite stimulants (such as mirtazapine, capromorelin, and prednisone) to increase their desire to eat.
- Weight Loss
As dogs grow older, their body's ability to digest protein is hindered, making them lose muscle mass, which starts well before the end of life.
Decreased appetite, dental issues, or diseases like chronic renal, cancer, or hepatic insufficiencies can untimely lead to weight loss.
The vet may prescribe appetite stimulants or a specialised diet high in fats and easily digestible proteins to help with weight loss.
Due to canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), a condition similar to dementia in humans, dogs may become very irritable as they may not know who they are or get lost in the house or yard.
Not knowing what is happening or where they are may make dogs snap or nip unexpectedly, growl unnecessarily or react negatively to what they used to love.
However, a dog in its last days is often lazy and not irritable, meaning if the dog still has this energy, it's most likely not as close to death as one might fear.
- Poor Temperature Regulation
Sick or ageing dogs become hot or cold quickly as they have trouble regulating body temperatures.
Those close to their end days often have lower body temperatures and blood pressure than usual.
This may cause dogs to twitch as a typical involuntary response to their body temperature drop which may become progressive and last longer, a sign of severe problems.
If you're living in a warm climate, a shady, properly-ventilated resting place will go a long way, while for colder areas, heated beds, warm cosy blankets, or hot water bottles are appropriate.
- Odd Breathing
Difficulty breathing with lengthy uneven gaps between inhaling and exhaling are challenging suffering moments for a dying dog.
This signifies that the dog's bodily functions are slowing down, and breathing, which is controlled by muscles and nerves, cannot be supported anymore.
This causes the dog's respiratory rate to fluctuate. It may be expected to become laboured and return to normal again. This usually is the last sign of death.
When you notice your dog in this condition, contact your vet immediately as it can be a symptom of illness, and exemplary care and treatment may be administered.
Should I let my dog die naturally?
On many occasions, prolonging a dog's life through medication only results in more suffering and pain.
It is important to evaluate the dog's quality of life as their owner to decide whether euthanasia or natural death is the best choice for them.
A quick, painless process, Euthanasia, involves a vet giving an overdose of a sedative, mostly pentobarbital, for the dog to quickly sleep and takes about 10-20 mins for the dog's heart to stop.
Pet owners may feel guilty for putting their friend to sleep, but it is necessary to end their needless suffering and is an act of love and compassion.
Euthanasia helps the owner plan the right time and place to lay the dog to rest. Also, other families are given enough time for closure.
Ask your vet about the process to choose whether to be present or to have a final goodbye afterward.
How do I help my dog die peacefully?
It is difficult saying goodbye to your pet, but there are many things one can do to ensure their pet's comfort.
- Give your dog something that has always been their favourite, like a treat, if they can still enjoy it.
- Keep him company or leave him alone, depending on his preferences.
- If the dog has a canine friend, try to let them spend a few moments together.
- Administer pain relief medication if prescribed by a veterinarian to help them find peace
- Place the dog with their favourite stuffed toy.
- Talking in a soothing tone can help dogs relax as they understand voice tones.
- Tell your dog it is okay to go and let them know of your love
- Put waterproof pet pads below your dog in case of accidents
- Dogs thrive on routines, so you must continue yours for as long as possible.
What happens when a dog dies naturally?
Many veterinary clinics collect the dog's body and give cremation and burial services.
Mobile veterinarians, animal control, and regular cremation services can help, but if you can, put on gloves and place the dog on a bed, blanket, or sheet.
Ensure to have mental and emotional support as it might be hard contemplating what to do after your pet's burial or cremation
If cremation is a choice, your vet may take care of the process as veterinarian clinics have crematoriums, or you may accompany your dog for cremation.
If burial is your better option, you may bury the pet in your backyard if your local laws permit or choose a preferable pet cemetery if burying them on your own is too upsetting.
When grieving the loss of your pet, understand the following:
- Accept your feelings and know that they are natural parts of the process.
- Express your grief through whatever is comfortable. Writing about it if you enjoy writing, creating photo books, or commissioning a pet portrait, a decorative urn, or a special memento can be helpful during the grieving process.
- Leaning on your friends and family to discuss your feelings is a great way to process your emotions.
- Attempt to maintain your everyday routines as much as possible.
- Take care of yourself physically by eating and exercising
No dog owner becomes amused when they lose their beloved pet.
However, awareness of death signs may help with psychological preparations and make the dog's final moments bearable.
These supplements improve the dog's gut health, decreasing joint pain, osteoarthritis, and inflammation effects for your dog, preventing chronic diseases.
Saying goodbye to your dog is heartbreaking and may take a while, so keeping their health in check when they are still alive is essential.