The death of a beloved pet is probably the most excruciating moment for any dog parent. Unfortunately, our furry companions have much shorter lifespans than ours, so we need to accept that this moment will come at some point.
In some cases, the death of a dog can be expected if it has been ill for some time. Many dog parents ask themselves whether their four-legged companions realize how dire their situation is and what their feelings are as this dreaded moment arrives.
In the hope of helping you get through this incredibly difficult time, we have summed up all we know about whether dogs know that they are dying and whether they feel scared in these final moments.
What Are The Signs That A Dog Is About To Die?
Dog parents know their pups best, so the signs that the end is coming should be pretty clear for them in most cases.
Some of the telltale signs of impending death include lethargy, weight loss, bladder control loss, difficulty breathing, shock, or coma.
Overall, a dying pup will lose interest in food, treats, toys, or anything else it used to enjoy.
Do Dogs Know When They Are Dying?
Dogs are smart animals, so they likely know that something is not okay with them before they die. But while we are pretty confident that our furry companions experience all kinds of emotions, it is hard to say whether they realize the gravity of the situation when they are on their deathbeds.
Depending on the cause of the impending death, your dog may be in shock or have other symptoms and a change of behavior which is very unusual for them. It may even not realize that you are nearby and are worried and grieving.
It is very likely that if the dog is unconscious, it will not be aware of anything happening around it, including the fact that it may be dying soon.
How Does A Dog Act Right Before It Dies?
Since every case is different, and there is no evidence from scientific research about an exact scenario and the actions that can be expected from a dog before it dies, it is hard to say what to expect at this moment.
While some evidence exists that certain animals understand death and mourn the death of their loved ones, we cannot confirm that this is true for dogs when it comes to their own demise.
Some of the signs that your dog may be at the end of its life include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy and disinterest in things that usually make it happy
- Incontinence and loss of bladder control
- Behavioral changes and limitations because of pain
- Hiding, wanting to be alone, lack of interest in interaction
- Transferring Your Emotions to Your Dying Pup
One essential thing to keep in mind is that your dog can very likely read your emotions, especially if you have been together for a long time.
So, if your dog looks sad and lost or frightened, it will likely be mirroring your own sadness, grief, and fear as it is battling for its life.
In other words, your dying pet may be simply mirroring your own feeling as it is dying rather than expressing its own emotions at this tragic moment.
Are Dogs Afraid Of Death Like Us Humans?
People are naturally afraid of the unknown and of death. The question of whether canines feel the same way about the end of their life is not clear.
Dr. Brandenburg-Schroeder, who runs a peaceful at-home service for euthanasia, “Beside Still Water,” claims on her website that, according to her experience, dogs do not fear death. Instead, they seem to accept it and communicate this feeling to their loving owners.
How To Keep The Dog Comfortable In Its Last Days?
Depending on the age and condition of your dog, the methods for keeping it as comfortable as possible in its last days are usually pretty straightforward.
If it is in pain, follow the instructions of the veterinarian for pain management medications and therapy.
In case euthanasia has been planned, you can try to give your furbaby the best final days, treat it to its favorite, even forbidden treats, and spend as much time with it as possible.
Instead of crying and mourning it while it is still amongst us, try to remain collected and calm, and shower it with all of your love and appreciation in those difficult days.
If possible, stay with your furry companion during the procedure itself when the time comes.
Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian all the questions you have regarding euthanasia because heaven knows it can be one of the most difficult decisions you will need to make!
Dogs are man’s best friend and have earned a special place in our hearts. While we cannot be certain whether they know when they are about to cross the rainbow bridge or fear death, in most cases, our dogs will remain loving and continue showing us their love even during those most difficult moments. It may sound ironic, but your dog will likely try to comfort you up to the very end.