Dogs are excellent companions throughout their years of service, but there will always come a time when a dog reaches the end of its lifespan. This can be a sad and difficult time for owners, especially when they do not know how to act and how their dog would like to be treated.
Dogs do not want to be alone when they die. Instead, when a dog knows that it is reaching the end of its lifespan, it will spend more time around its owner and other loved ones. If a dog dies away from its owner, it was probably not the dogs’ intention to do so.
Let’s take a look at what dogs want when they are dying and how you can be supportive.
As much as we love our dogs, there is no way to keep them alive forever. From when they are a puppy to when they are an old dog, we love them and learn from them. Dogs generally live for 10-12 years depending on their breed, with larger dogs living for shorter times than smaller dogs. However, many dog owners don’t know the exact age of their dogs. When a dog is getting close to the end of its lifespan, there are a few things that you will notice.
The most obvious indicators that a dog is getting old are the outward signs. Old dogs will have more grey hair on their body and their coat will be patchier than when they were a puppy. You will also be able to clearly notice that your dog has less energy than it has had in the past. In addition to these outwardly noticeable effects, there will be other internal problems for an old dog.
Mentally, your dog will be declining once it is old enough. Dog owners report their dogs as being more absentminded, sometimes forgetting words and commands that the dog once knew well. Other dogs engage in repetitive or compulsive behavior. Just as you notice these changes in your dog, your dog will probably notice these changes as well. As you might expect, the differences can unsettle a dog, increasing their anxiety and making them more afraid.
Physically, your dog will almost certainly be dealing with a lot of joint pain. Dog’s joints are naturally weak and worn down after years of jumping and running. With about 30 percent of dogs in America being obese and a further 15 percent being overweight, odds are that your dog has been putting too much strain on their heart and joints as a consequence of their diet. You might notice the effects of weak joints as stiffness in your dog’s legs and in any difficulty that the dog has in standing up.
Older dogs will also begin to lose their sense of sight or smell. Cloudy eyes are a sure sign that your dog is beginning to go blind, which can easily lead to your dog growing less sure of itself and more frightened of the world around it. Stay vigilant around your dog to be sure that it doesn’t hurt itself and be sure to begin speaking to a vet once you notice signs of aging.
The Dying Process
Once you start to notice sure signs of age-related problems in your dog, you should speak with a vet immediately. Veterinarians can help your dog with painkillers and potential diet changes while also being able to advise ways that you can best support your dog through their old age. Visiting a vet will let you minimize risks and avoid unnecessary accidents while also giving you (and by extension your dog) more peace of mind.
The effects of aging will be noticeable long before the end of your dog’s life, so you don’t have to worry about your dog passing away a few weeks after you notice the effects of their age. Depending on your dog and their level of health, they could live for years after they first begin to go blind or have difficulty moving.
The best things you can do to extend your dog’s lifespan are to provide a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and a way for your dog to feel useful. However, because no pet will live forever, you should be ready to help your dog through the process of its death. After years of loyalty, you will probably want to do everything you can to help your dog have a peaceful end to its life.
These times can be difficult for dog owners who are soon going to lose a long-time companion. You will have to make choices about medicine, treatment, and changing your routine to best help your dog. You will also have to choose if you want to euthanize your dog or if you will wait for them to die on their own. These can be tough decisions, but they must be made.
Easing Joint Pain
When it comes to taking care of a sick or old animal, there is a lot that you can do- especially for a dog. Just like for humans, old age means pain and discomfort. This experience is often accompanied by bewilderment and confusion on the part of the dog. Just as humans can lose some of their mental faculties while at the end of their lifespan, dogs can as well. Thankfully, veterinarians and other professionals offer a lot of advice on how to care for an old dog.
The most painful part of old age for dogs comes from their joints. Over the years, dogs will wear down the cartilage on their joints by running, jumping, and even just walking. Eventually, the joints will consist of hardly any cartilage protecting the bones, and the dog’s bones will rub against one another. Whenever the joint is still, scar tissue will build up, making it more difficult and painful for your dog to move that limb.
A dog’s joints will wear out faster if they have to carry more weight. For this reason, it is important for you to be very careful about how much you feed your dog, what you feed your dog, and how much exercise it gets. You should watch your dog’s diet carefully, especially as it gets older. Old dogs are prone to swings in their weight. If you notice your dog gaining or losing a lot of weight, talk to your veterinarian about changes that you can make to their diet.
You can also help prevent joint pain in your dog by feeding them joint supplements throughout their life. You can also give them some medication for their joint pain if your veterinarian prescribes it for your animal. Make sure to give your pet plenty of water to drink and be patient with them as they deal with locked limbs and a slower body.
Caring for a Dying Dog
Apart from joint pain, your pet will need to be consoled and guided through the difficulties of vision loss, heart problems, and whatever else they might be facing. The type of care that you provide for your dog will depend on what their specific health issues are. When deciding how you can best care for your dog, start by taking them to a vet to diagnose what health issues they might be dealing with.
The most common causes of death in older dogs are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Lyme disease. Generally, these common causes of death aren’t very treatable for dogs. The best thing that you can do for a dog dying of cancer, for example, is to comfort them and do what you can to minimize their pain.
Thankfully, pet owners can do a lot to care for dying animals and to pay them back for their years of devotion. Through your patience and attention, your pet will feel your love for them and will be more at ease. By staying with them and helping them to know that you care for them and love them, you can lighten their anxiety and reduce their fears.
You can also make their last weeks more enjoyable for your dog by feeding them their favorite foods and making sure that they have their favorite toy nearby. You can also make sure that their bed is padded well enough that they will be warm and that their joints will be cushioned.
It is important that you monitor your dog for signs of dehydration. Because it can be difficult for older dogs to get up to have a drink, they might neglect their health and become dehydrated. Watch for the signs of sunken eyes, excessive drooling, and heavy panting that indicate that your dog is not getting enough water. If drinking is difficult for them or if you can’t get them to drink enough, offer them foods that have a lot of moisture (such as broth) or give them an ice cube to chew or suck on.
If your dog is suffering from severe pain, seizures, excessive vomiting or diarrhea, or bloody stools, you should take them to a vet immediately. All of these symptoms are signs that your dog’s life is in danger. As long as you carefully monitor the health of your pet, you should be able to take good care of them during the last times of their life.
Staying with your Dying Dog
Dogs can tell when they are deteriorating and when they are close to their death. They notice the pain that they have every time that they want to move around and they notice the onset of blindness and heart failure. When a dog is going to die, some people think that the dog will look for a place where it can be alone for its death. Some dog owners report that their dog went into the basement to die, or that they ran away from home.
This behavior in a dog is a result of a dog’s instinct to hide or isolate themselves when they know that they are in danger. However, it is not common in most dogs. When dogs are anxious or scared, many will want to spend time with their owners. If a dog is found dead in a basement or a similar location, it probably didn’t intend to die there. Most likely, they didn’t have the strength and the will to get back up from wherever they decided to lay down.
Because of this, one of the best things that you can do to reassure your pet is to stay with them during their final days. They will appreciate the companionship and they will be reassured by your presence. If you are nearby, they will feel less anxious and scared and more able to deal with the difficulties of dying.
If you decide to euthanize your dog in order to spare them from their pain, your dog will appreciate your presence during the euthanasia. Many dogs are frightened and anxious while at the vet, so being alongside your pet will help their experience be more calming.
If you decide to euthanize your dog at home, you can make the process as painless and easy as possible. You can purchase some pills of sodium pentobarbital and Benedryl that will make your dog’s passing painless and easy. The family can gather around to say goodbye, and your dog can have the comforts of home.
By staying with your dog during its last weeks and days of life, you can provide comfort for your animal while also giving yourself closure on your relationship with it. At times, dog owners have difficulty getting over the death of their pets if they were not with their dogs when they died. Staying with your dog will bring a peaceful end to both of you.
All in all, our pets are loyal and good companions that deserve companionship during the last months of their lives. Though it might be difficult or inconvenient, you can repay them for their service by staying with them through the difficult and sometimes scary moments that come before their death.