How to know when my dog is near the end?

Death is a natural part of life and dogs are no exception. While dogs can live a long and happy life, they will, in most cases, die long before their owners. When that time comes, it can be helpful to know what to look for. Not only can recognising the signs of your dog's failing health help you prepare for the death but you can also begin the difficult decision-making process of euthanasia. It's hard to think of putting a beloved dog to sleep, but it may be the most merciful choice, and knowing the signs is important.

Watch the appetite. When a dog is close to dying, the appetite is usually one of the things to go.

Check its gums. If a dog is healthy, its gums should be pink.

Consider pain levels. Older dogs are often in pain, and if the veterinarian can't prescribe strong enough medication to help, it may be a sign the dog is near death.

Consider illness and treatment. If your dog has a terminal illness and you're insisting on treatment, you may just be prolonging a miserable life. That treatment can also be expensive, and you'll end up with heavy debt and still grieving the loss of your dog. Decide whether the treatment is worth it to you.

Check the dog's activity. If your dog is having trouble walking, eating and breathing, for example, this can be a sign.

Consider the quality of life. Some suggest that while your dog is healthy, consider what activities it enjoys. When the dog can no longer participate in many of these activities, its quality of life has deteriorated and it may be time to consider the end.

Consult your veterinarian. Your dog may be sick or he may be dying. Visit your veterinarian to be sure before making any rash decisions or grieving too early.


Consider whether your dog still has time left or if you are just holding on because it's hard to let go. You may need to consider if your dog is in pain because you don't know how to accept that it is dying.

Things You'll Need

  • Veterinarian (possibly)
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About the Author

Melissa Hamilton began writing professionally in 2007. She has enjoyed cooking creatively in the kitchen from a young age. In addition to writing cooking articles for various publications, she currently works in the restaurant industry as a food and beverage trainer.