• Home
  • Dog Health
  • Warning Signs a Dog is Dying and How to Euthanize It at Home

Warning Signs a Dog is Dying and How to Euthanize It at Home

Every dog owner loves his puppy and sees it as a part of the family, a real family member. But, no matter how much care we offer our lovable companion, the end is inevitable, as dogs have a much shorter lifespan than people do.

old dog

Every dog owner loves his puppy and sees it as a part of the family, a real family member.

But, no matter how much care we offer our lovable companion, the end is inevitable, as dogs have a much shorter lifespan than people do. This is how things work and you should be at peace knowing that you did your best to offer your it a fulfilling, happy, and comfortable life.

So, in spite of the fact that it is unpleasant to think about the end, it is advisable to prepare for it in a timely manner. This is even more recommended if you have an old dog. 

You see, dogs will rarely just pass away without any warning. They can sense that the end is near so there will be noticeable changes in its behavior. Why should a dog owner know all these things?

Well, it is useful to be able to read your pet as you have the possibility to shorten its sufferance, especially if it is suffering from a severe illness. Having said all these, it is possible to euthanize your dog at home and allow it to have its forever sleep in a human manner, without letting it suffer any longer.

The signs presented by a dying dog

Whether you have a pup that is in the terminal stages of an illness or a very old pup, you know that the end is near, so you should get ready for it. At this point, all you can do is make everything as comfortable as possible for your companion.

This way, the dog will enjoy the last period of its life in peace and happiness. Still, how does a dying dog manifest? Here is a list of signs that let you know your longtime companion is ready to part.

Do bear in mind that it doesn’t have to present every sign on this list. Some present just one sign while others present several. But, any of these signs occurring should tell you that it’s time to get ready to say goodbye.

The physical coordination of the dog becomes impaired

An old or very ill dog can present serious physical weakness. As it approaches the end of its days, it will become harder and harder for it to get up and move from one place to another.

Walks will become much slower, as your companion lacks the strength to walk as it used to. Of course, the lack of appetite in old and ill dogs also contributes to this aspect.

Not to mention that old age also comes with fragile and aching joints. But, it is worth having in mind that coordination problems are not always a sign that the end is coming.

A diminished desire to move, wobbling legs, or lethargy can be signs of health conditions that do have a treatment, as presented in this article. So, it is worth taking your dog to the vet before drawing any conclusion in this case.

The dog doesn’t have any desire to eat

This is a sign that commonly occurs in the case of people that are approaching their end as well. As the dog is weaker, it will lose its appetite to the point of refusing food completely.

Even when it actually eats, there are high chances of vomiting the food. Also, besides refusing food, the dog may also refuse to drink water.

Just do have in mind that in case it did use to eat, but it stops doing so or eats poorly, a vet should check its state of health. Food refusal is rather common in dogs that do not feel well or contacted a disease. 

It shows symptoms of severe fatigue

tired exhausted dog

When the end is near, your beloved pup will most likely prefer sitting in one spot, without showing any desire to get up.

A lethargic dog that lies down most of the day, refusing food and water, and even refusing to lift its head, is indeed the image of a dog that is heading towards the end of its life.

This extreme fatigue is caused by the fact that it is physically weak, didn’t have food in its system properly for a very long time, and poor blood circulation.

If white gums accompany the general state of lethargy, it means that anemia got installed and this is an obvious sign. Also, if the gums appear pink, but when pressed they turn white and stay this way for several seconds, it is also a sign that the end is coming, as the dog’s circulation stops functioning right.

But, a canine can also be lethargic after episodes of vomiting or diarrhea, so it’s not always a reason to panic.

Often vomiting

Dog’s vomiting is a frequent sign in dogs that have a malfunctioning digestive system. This happens in pups that are seriously ill and have been diagnosed with a terminal stage of their illness.

In this case, their digesting system will gradually stop functioning, so the ingested food will not be digested any longer. This will create discomfort, so the dog will vomit to get the undigested food out of its system. But, things can get rather severe when your pup starts vomiting water, as it can rapidly get dehydrated.

Severe dehydration can put its life in danger more quickly than food rejection.

Still, if it had a good general state and vomiting is a sudden occurrence, the vet can help you ease its condition and get him more time. Also, do have in mind that vomiting can also be triggered by indigestions, viruses, motion sickness, and other factors, as presented here.

These can be ruled out by the veterinarian.

The dog stops being interested in its surroundings

Back in the days, when dogs lived outdoors on a man’s property, and not indoors, they used to find a quiet spot where they lied down and die.

A dying canine pet doesn’t like to die in the proximity of their house, so it was common for them to want to leave on their last day of life. Because indoor pups don’t have this opportunity, they will become more retreated.

They will find a secluded and quiet spot where they will begin spending more and more time. When this happens, it will lose interest in what is happening around. As its body becomes weaker, not even your presence will manage to trigger traces of enthusiasm. 

Involuntary twitching

Let us not forget that a dying dog has a weakened body, so twitching and trembling out of a sudden can also be on the list of signs.

This may be due to the fact that it is no longer capable of adjusting its body temperature well. You can offer more comfort by taking your old pup in a warm spot or offering it blankets. A heating pad is also recommended, as it helps it stay warm. 

Incontinence may become an issue

Again, due to the fact that its body is becoming weaker, the dog will slowly begin losing control of its bladder and even sphincter muscle. This means that accidents may occur as it lies down, not having the power to get up and take care of its business as it once did.

Using absorbent pads in its bed or where it lies, and even pet diapers is a way to solve this matter and make things more comfortable for your dog.

Also, it is advisable to offer it a high degree of nursing, keeping it clean so that the presence of urine or feces on its skin will not cause additional problems.

The vet says that its condition is worsening

sad old dog

This is common in pups that passed in the terminal phase of their illness. Dogs suffering from heart conditions or cancer are usually the ones reaching this state.

Once the vet says that things are getting worse, you should expect for the dog’s condition to seriously deteriorate at any time. At this point, preparing to meet the end is inevitable.

How to euthanize your dog at home

While most people believe that this process can be done by the vet only, there are ways to put your dog to sleep at home, without taking it to the vet’s office. For a pup owner, making such a call is definitely a very tough choice.

But, for all the years that they served us and for all the memories we have together with it, there’s no point on letting it suffer from a disease that is untreatable.

Yes, we can do our best to care for them and make them as comfortable as possible. But when the illness severely affects the its quality of life and causes constant pain and sufferance, it is worth considering the option of euthanizing it and letting it go in peace.

About euthanizing and what does it mean?

Euthanizing means to end the life of an animal in a peaceful and human way, in order to put an end to the sufferance the animal may go through, due to an illness or accident.

So, if your dog is having a health condition that is causing it a lot of misery and significantly alters its quality of life, it is an option worth considering. Of course, you should talk to your vet about it and be prepared to make such a decision if the situation requires it.

When will you know that it’s time to put your dog to sleep?

This is why it is important to talk to your vet and get as much information as possible about the evolution of your dog’s state of health. You need to go through with the vet’s recommendations and have the it checked in a periodic manner, especially if we are talking about an illness.

You see, canines don’t always manifest themselves vocally when they are in pain. So, the fact that it is not crying doesn’t mean that it is pain-free. The vet will give you a better insight of how an illness manifests in the case of your puppy and what to expect. This way, you will be able to make an informed decision.

Ask a vet first or request your vet’s presence when the time has come

While it is indeed more affordable to have this procedure done at home, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it by yourself or as you consider right.

You should prepare for this moment with your veterinarian. In fact, it is highly recommended to have your vet in your home when the right moment has come. This way, you make sure that your dog will not suffer at all.

Also, in case anything wrong occurs, the vet has all the education, training, and experience necessary to intervene and alleviate the issue.

What kind of sleeping pills to use?

According to the Humane Society of America, Pentobarbital Sodium is one of the best options when it comes to euthanizing your beloved pet with sleeping pills at home.

The drug works as a potent anesthetic in the case of dogs, so it is possible to put them to sleep with its help. Still, due to their potency, barbiturates can be toxic to the organism of your pup, so it is strongly recommended to administer some sedatives before giving it the sleeping pills.

The sedatives will allow it to relax and will minimize the risk of causing it any more discomfort. The vet will be able to recommend the best sedatives in the case of your dog. Also, it is worth mentioning that you can choose between pills and injections.

Talk to your family about it

This is not an easy-to-make decision, so you should discuss with your family about it. Decide if this is something you want to do and if it is a solution that will work in your case.

You will need to be supportive of each other and supportive towards your companion, as this is not one of those things that one can do alone.

Accepting that your loyal and beloved companion reached the end of its road is never an easy thing. But, unfortunately, dogs have much shorter lives than we do, so we need to understand and accept that this is how things work.

Most certainly it is not pleasant to see our old companion suffering and struggling with the discomfort created by an illness. This is why the option of putting it to sleep, when and if the situation requires it, should be taken into account.

We need to be strong and wise and give our dog the chance to part with this world in peace and comfort, as a sign of appreciation for all the great years it spent at our side.


This is a guest post by Doctor Gary Rybka, a veterinarian for over 35 years now and part of the Premier Pups staff. He graduated from the Auburn School of Veterinary Medicine in 1977 and now is the owner and director of Bethel Animal Hospital. You can find further information about him at DoctorPup.com.

Have question or thought?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*