Let’s first consider the idea of “dying naturally.” If a someone passes away from old age or sickness as opposed to an accident or trauma, they are said to have “died of natural causes” in terminology of human medicine. This description seems to apply to our canine friends as well.
The common perception of a natural death is typically shaped by what we have watched on TV or in the movies, which frequently depicts a person passing away quietly while they are asleep. The idea that wild animals will silently perish in a bush is another fallacy.
Sadly, this rarely happens in real life.
In actuality, dogs frequently have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Despite catastrophic medical illnesses and extreme suffering, dogs are resilient and cling to life, frequently for much longer than we as veterinarians or you as owners anticipate. In reality, people frequently have a long list of uncomfortable symptoms before passing away, including:
- reduced mobility
- being unable to eat or losing their appetite
- avoiding alcohol
- extreme tiredness
- twitching of muscles
- Alteration of temperament
- altered breathing
- generally uneasy
You must be ready for some trying times if you choose to “let nature take its course.” And possibly painful recollections of your dog in their last days. Veterinarians will be able to administer medication to treat their problems and provide them with the maximum level of comfort. However, it can be days, weeks, or even months before they ‘naturally’ pass away.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are only legal for humans in a few number of locations worldwide (including some countries in Western Europe, Canada, Colombia and a number of States in North America). While the use of an injection to end the lives of our pets is always permitted. The great majority of veterinary clinics around the world provide it as a service. Since our dogs are obviously unable to make this decision for themselves, it must be made by us on their behalf.
An overdose of anesthetic is injected into the vein as part of the compassionate euthanasia process for dogs. The injection is typically delivered into the front leg, but depending on the dog’s age and breed, it may also be given in another location. Within seconds of receiving the medication, the dog will become asleep, and a few minutes later, their heart will die.
Most dog euthanasia procedures go well, without any problems, and with little discomfort to the dog. It is still seen as a better option that could spare you and your dog from days or weeks of pain, even if there are difficulties.
Advantages and disadvantages of a ‘natural’ death vs. euthanasia
Naturally, each choice has benefits and drawbacks, which is why it can be so challenging for any pet owner to decide which is best.
Allowing your dog to pass away “naturally” at home, in a comfortable setting, can make them feel less frightened. You might find it challenging to watch, though. As an alternative, a lot of veterinarians conduct euthanasia during “home visits,” saving their clients the trouble of making the trip to the clinic.
Although this is a well-known indicator of the grieving process, it is possible that you will experience this sensation regardless of what you choose to do. There is occasionally less guilt connected with a “natural” death.
Euthanasia can offer quick respite from this agony, which no pet owner wants to witness in their dog.
A “natural” death cannot guarantee that you and your family will have the opportunity to say goodbye to your cherished pet, but euthanasia does.
Making the decision
Although you and your family will have to make the final choice, keep in mind that you are not alone! Your veterinarian will be available to talk with you about all your options, provide guidance, and support to help you make the best choice for both you and your dog.
Numerous considerations will be taken into account, including your own ethics and values, your pet’s personality, their condition and quality of life (QOL), as well as the financial and logistical issues of caring for a dying pet.
Please do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian’s office if you require guidance on how to care for your dog in the final stages of life or support after your companion has passed away.
Why don’t we allow dogs to pass away naturally?
Pet owners sometimes struggle with determining when “it’s time” to make the decision to euthanize a critically sick pet. Numerous factors, such as the following, influence the decision:
- emotional apprehensions over parting with the dog’s company
- fear that the dog might “get better” and hasty euthanasia decisions
- wanting to prevent the dog from going through the anguish and anxiety of being put down at the vet’s office
- Lack of agreement among family members over the euthanasia date, if some believe the dog should be put to sleep sooner or can “hang on” longer.
- Even for humane reasons, according to some believers of several religions, “killing” is discouraged.
Should a dog be let to pass away peacefully?
My dog passed away naturally. Is it terrible that I wanted to witness his final breaths in person?
In no way, you reply. Dogs have always been there for us, at both good and sad times, and it’s customary to stay with them all the way until the end. As long as the dogs are treated as pain-free and comfortable as possible and their underlying ailment is properly managed, there is nothing wrong with dog owners preferring natural death over euthanasia. End-of-life care can be assisted by veterinarians, particularly those who specialize in hospice care. Your dog was really fortunate to have you at his side right up until the end.
It’s a matter of personal preference. For your dog’s comfort, I advise speaking with a veterinarian. There are now veterinarians who focus on hospice or geriatric care and can visit your home to talk about quality of life and provide comfort for your dog.
Due to liver failure, my dog is suffering. They are helpless to intervene. Should I kill him to spare him pain?
Answering this question is quite challenging. Pet euthanasia is a personal choice. The best person to inquire is possibly your vet. Getting a second opinion from a different veterinarian can be another choice.
I am aware of several dogs who have significant liver failure and survive for weeks or even months. There are various forms of liver failure, and not all of them have a bleak outlook. Understanding the details of what is occurring may be insightful.
When resources allow, seeking advanced diagnostics can occasionally aid in decision-making. This may occasionally call for a referral to a specialty clinic with access to 24-hour critical care as well as advanced imaging techniques like an ultrasound.
Euthanasia is the greatest act of love a dog owner can perform if the situation is hopeless, there are little hopes for recovery, and the dog’s quality of life is low. Hope this was useful. I’m so sad to hear that your puppy is suffering.
The best course of action for senior pets is to consult a veterinarian. The greatest decision-makers for your dog are you and your veterinarian. There are frequently treatments available to address various aging-related illnesses. For instance, a combination of several painkillers with a synergistic effect greatly assisted when our dog experienced severe neck discomfort as a result of disc illness. We discovered some amazing supplements that were fantastic for relieving joint pain. Undiagnosed disorders can occasionally exist and may be curable. Drugs are available to help incontinent female dogs stop leaking, and acupuncture occasionally works wonders for certain canines. We purchased non-slip mats, utilized toe grips, and placed a blanket underneath our dog when she was having trouble standing up.
Yes, a number of veterinarians will make house calls and conduct euthanasia appointments there. The fact that they could not be available when you need them the most due to their busy schedules is one of the disadvantages, but if you plan ahead, they should be able to accommodate. The pet is at home, where it feels most comfortable, and doesn’t have to experience the stress of a car ride and being driven to a location he or she may fear, if the dog was never a fan of coming to the vet. They may also charge additional costs, but they might be worthwhile.
There are also businesses that offer end-of-life consultation and have veterinarians with expertise in hospice care on staff. One illustration is a business called “Lap of Love.”
Do dogs pass away quietly?
Discuss it with your veterinarian, as well as with your family and friends. Consideration points include:
- Does your dog have enough room to comfortably eat, drink, sleep, and move around?
- Does he or she acknowledge your presence and extend a greeting?
- Is feeding time entertaining?
Vomiting, indicators of pain, misery, or discomfort, or trouble breathing are all indications that euthanasia should be taken into consideration. Try to assess your dog’s quality of life based on the knowledge you and your family have of him or her. Your veterinarian can offer advice and assistance in this matter. Setting a time restriction might be a smart move if you’re hoping for a change in your dog’s condition. Sadly, hardly many pets pass away at home while sleeping calmly. Most people eventually reach a point when their quality of life is intolerable and euthanasia must be chosen.
Being a dog owner who has a chronic illness can be emotionally and financially taxing. Care frequently requires a significant time commitment. Not every dog owner can handle the situation, therefore it may be preferable to choose euthanasia if there is little possibility of a recovery and you are unable to provide your dog with the level of care required for a comfortable existence. There’s a chance that some disabled pets will deteriorate suddenly and without warning. Euthanasia can be a preferable choice if you are unable to arrange for your dog to receive emergency care (all vets in the UK are required to make this provision).
How much time does it take a dog to die?
When the fight is ended and a dog passes away:
- Their last breath will be let out. As the lungs empty, their body will actually seem to slightly contract.
- Their entire body will become limp.
- Their eyes will have a vacant expression if they are still open.
- Their heart stops beating entirely.
- The muscles that control these biological functions entirely relax, and they may release urine or urinate when all tension departs their muscles.
- The dog has definitely died after around 30 minutes of showing no signs of life.
“I held him in my arms and laid down with him on his bed while telling him to calm down because I would always be by his side. His breathing lengthened and spread out. He let go of her gradually. In my arms, I could feel him completely unwind. He passed away quietly, surrounded by my love.” — Leah’s reader feedback
What behaviors are present in dying dogs?
There will always be death. As pet owners, we don’t like to think about it all that much, but regrettably, we all have to deal with it at some point. There are many articles on the internet that are intended to assist you comprehend the process of death when it comes to euthanasia, but very few that address the subject of natural death when it comes to our dogs passing. Although natural death does not occur frequently, we at Leesville Animal Hospital believe that pet owners should be prepared for it.
Even though only a small percentage of dogs die from natural causes, if you have an older dog, you might be wondering what to expect if yours is one of the rare ones.
There are some symptoms you should look out for if you are the owner of a dog receiving hospice care since they could indicate that your pet is preparing to pass away. Even while these symptoms might sometimes indicate illness or other changes, when they come simultaneously or in conjunction with a general feeling that your pet is getting ready to pass away, you can nearly always be sure that the end is close. It is always worthwhile to visit your family veterinarian or request that they make a home call if you start to see these symptoms in your dog. Your family veterinarian will be able to confirm your assumptions and assist you in understanding how to put your pet more at ease with the process of dying because they will have grown to know them over the years.
The following are indicators to look out for in an aging dog or an ill dog receiving hospice care:
- Inability to coordinate
- reduced appetite
- not anymore consuming water
- inability to move or losing interest in activities they formerly found enjoyable
- vomit or have accidents
- slowed breathing
- unease about being comfy
- a wish to be alone or to get closer to you (this can depend upon the dog, but will present as being an unusual need or behavior)
- consciousness loss
Some of these indicators will start to appear weeks before your dog dies. Most frequently, these symptoms resemble the following:
- You might observe weight loss, a lack of self-grooming, duller eyes, thirst, and gastrointestinal problems 3 months to 3 weeks before your dog passes away.
- Three weeks prior to your dog’s passing, you might notice: a rise in self-isolation, eye discharge, finicky eating, altered breathing patterns, decreased interest in enjoyable activities, growing weight loss, and fussy eating.
- Your dog may experience excessive weight loss, a distant expression in their eyes, a lack of interest in anything, restlessness or odd stillness, a change in how your dog smells, and a changing disposition in the final few days before they pass away.
Many folks may claim that their cherished family pet clung to life right up until the instant that they let the animal to let go. We can’t help but think of this as an extension of the lifetime of loyalty that our dogs show us. Without the assurance that we won’t be without them and that their task is finished, our pets are unable to move on. We owe it to our pets to provide them with that reassurance, no matter how much it may hurt.
Many people worry that they won’t know a) if their pet has genuinely passed away and b) what to do next when the time comes for their cherished pooches to pass away.
There are several indications that your pet has left their body when they have passed away. The body will completely relax, and your dog will no longer appear rigid; instead, they will “let go,” which is the most obvious indication. As the last breath leaves their lungs, you will observe a slimming of the body, and if their eyes are still open, you may notice a loss of life. You should now check for breathing and a heartbeat. You can be certain that your dog has passed on if there is no longer a heartbeat, no breathing, and these conditions have persisted for 30 minutes.
What should you do if your pet has moved on? If your pet died away with their eyes open, you might decide to gently close them first. Your pet may have lost the ability to regulate their bowels or bladder during their passing, and many pet owners wish to clean up after their pets. To do this, use baby wipes, a damp facecloth, or a moist towel. The most crucial thing at this time, though, may be to take your time and spend the final moments with your pet. Take as much time as necessary to say goodbye.
Once you’ve said your goodbyes, you should phone your vet or, if your vet doesn’t offer home visits, a vet who does. They will be able to attest to the passing of your companion and, if needed, transfer your dog for cremation. It is usually better to have a veterinarian check on your pet before you do so, even if you have permission to bury them on your land. Some pet owners decide to bring their deceased animal to their local veterinarian facility. If you decide to do this, cover your pet in a tidy blanket and phone your veterinarian to let them know you will be there. They will be able to inform you what you need to bring with you and provide you with any additional instructions you may need for your visit.
Your veterinarian can handle the cremation process for you if you decide to do so for your pet. Every veterinary practice works closely with a pet cremation. However, if you would rather, you can make the arrangements and go to the Crematory with your dog. However, if you decide to do this, you must remember that it must be done right afterwards, or else you must ask your veterinarian to preserve your companion’s remains until you can travel the next day.
You can decide whether to have an individual cremation or a communal cremation, in which case your pet would be burned alongside other animals. Even though an individual cremation is more expensive, it is still a private process. You may have decided to keep your pet’s ashes after cremation or to have them strewn near the crematorium. You must decide what is right for you at this moment.
A pet cemetery can be a better option for you if cremation is not the option that feels right to you but you are not allowed to bury your pet on your property because of municipal regulations. Every state has a pet cemetery, and each cemetery has its unique procedures for burying animals.