Why Don’t Dogs Eyes Close When They Die

Some dogs pass away with their eyes open, while others do it with their eyes shut. The manner of death—whether it occurs calmly while they are asleep, while they are awake, or both—determines whether the eyes are entirely open or completely closed.

The following veterinary quote nicely summarizes the response to the question:

“In my more than 25 years as a veterinarian, I have watched numerous dogs pass away, some of which I have had to put to sleep. Other than the circumstance in which they die, there is no pattern to these dog deaths. I have, for instance, witnessed eyes that were open, closed, and partially shut. Depending on how and when they died, their eyelids might have looked different. The eyes will stay open if the dog was conscious when it died. The eyes won’t open when someone passes away if they’re asleep.

Why do some dogs die with their eyes open?

When a dog passes away with its eyes open, it usually means that they were awake and conscious at the time of their death or that they were astonished.

The same muscle that prevents human eyelids from closing upon death also prevents dog eyes from closing at death.

You have to consciously manage your muscles in order to close your eyes. Dogs need to desire to close their eyelids, and let’s be honest, it probably isn’t high on their priority list for them to do so when they are close to passing away. I’m certain I couldn’t do it!

Having stated that, the eyelid has no natural state. The orbicularis oculi, a muscle, closes the dog’s eyelids. The levator palpebrae superioris, which pulls in the opposite direction, opens the eyelid.

This means that if a dog dies with its eyes open, they will remain thus. A dog’s eyes will remain closed if they are closed when they pass away. The eyelid muscle that is active at the time of death will be respected.

In conclusion, the simplest explanation for why your dog passed away with her eyes open is because they were open.

Sadly, it might have indicated that your dog knew something was going on or been shocked, but perhaps it would have been a swift demise.

Did You Know? Dogs do not naturally open their eyes at birth, and this is a result of an evolutionary feature. Here is a timeline for when a puppy’s eyes will open and how well-developed their vision will be.

Do dogs ever pass away with their eyes open or shut?

It’s critical to comprehend what the body does after death. Not in an effort to be morbid, but so you won’t encounter unpleasant surprises and so you’ll be ready to observe your pet’s dying.

It is unlikely that you will see anything particularly distressing or unpleasant during a quiet, serene home euthanasia. You will only notice the cessation of breathing and motion in approximately 95% of cases. However, body reactions can happen, and if you observe something, it’s crucial that you realize that these reactions are a normal aspect of dying and do not signify misery.

The genetic structure is designed for survival. Because cells and bodies find it difficult to let go of life, when death happens, the body may make an effort to continue functioning even while the spirit is departing. This does not imply that your pet wasn’t “ready” or anything similar.

The “agonal breathing” is the most unexpected of those responses. This appears to be irregular, jerky breathing that doesn’t truly result in oxygenation. They essentially represent a body’s nerves trying to “kick start the body back into life again.” There can be only one “shudder” or many in a sequence (4 or 5 is typical; more is unusual, but I have witnessed a case in which a pet had more than 20 agonizing breaths). In this specific instance, I had plenty of time to confirm that the heart had stopped beating. When that happens, the brain does not receive enough oxygen for the animal to remain conscious. The pet has no awareness that his body is dying and most definitely does not feel like “he can’t breathe.” Agonal breathing happens when the body is dying. Those are often silent, although occasionally breathing noises can be heard along with them. Although the pet is unconscious when it happens, some people describe it as a shiver or grunt; I’ve also heard the term “death rattles.” They do not constantly happen. Since we take a medication that soothes the body and helps to prevent agonal breathing, they are actually rare to happen. Additionally, slowly injecting the euthanasia solution reduces the likelihood of agonal respiration. Agonal respiration cannot always be stopped, even with the use of this medication and a slow infusion of the euthanasia solution. It’s crucial to realize that agonal breathing does not necessarily indicate that the animal is in pain or suffering. If and when they do happen, keep in mind that the animal is already comatose, and it’s likely that the heart has already stopped. The animal has essentially already vanished.

Small twitches of the skin or muscles are examples of other reactions that can be detected. These can occasionally continue after the pet has passed away for a few minutes. They are typical nervous reactions, but they don’t always happen. They are quite delicate and may go unnoticed. They can be seen everywhere on the body, but when spotted, they are most frequently found near the nose or the bottom region of the shoulder.

On rare occasions, vocalization might happen as death occurs. Even though it rarely happens, it might be disturbing for pet parents because vocalization is frequently connected to pain in our thinking. This vocalization is uncontrollable, therefore the animal may not necessarily be in pain. Moans, groans, and howls are examples of vocalizations that can be heard at the moment of death. The spine and tail of the affected animal are most usually bent, and defecation (passing feces) is also frequently observed (extension). Once more, this is an uncontrollable response that occasionally happens at the moment of death.

After a pet (or person) has died, the eyes are in their natural relaxed position: open. Eyes will probably stay open. They rarely close, and occasionally they are in a type of neutral state when they are neither open nor closed. Pet owners frequently want me to shut their animals’ eyelids. Unfortunately, unless a tiny drop of surgical adhesive is applied under the eyelids, even when we close our eyes, they will unavoidably open again. Some individuals prefer that I use that tiny drop of surgical adhesive because they find it extremely unpleasant to see their pet’s eyes open. Please let me know if this applies to you.

The cornea (the clear part of the eyes) will become glassy or fuzzy in a matter of minutes in addition to the eyes remaining open.

Gas and bodily fluids will “leak out.” It’s crucial to be ready for this and to have towels on hand to slide beneath your pet after his passing. If the bladder is quite full, there will be a sizable puddle of urine underneath your pet. It is likely that there will be some pee leaking even if your pet just urinated. Although it is uncommon, feces can come out, especially if your pet has experienced diarrhea. The aftermath of your pet’s death may be rather untidy if he had been seriously unwell with severe diarrhea or bloody stools. Again, you’d better be ready. We will never push your pet to lie down on an unfamiliar surface that he could find unpleasant out of respect for him. However, if there are towels nearby, we can quickly move those towels underneath your pet after he has passed away to prevent leaks.

Blood-tinged fluid can occasionally leak from the nasal cavity or mouth, especially in situations where congestive heart failure, chest hemorrhage from a burst tumor, pneumonia, or trauma are present. It may appear frightening, but since your pet has already passed away, his suffering is over, so he won’t care because this is only a regular part of the sickness process. These factors must have been there for your pet’s sickness to be present for this nasal or oral bleeding to happen.

Other common occurrences include pricked ears, tail curling, and raised hair (hackles) down the spine, especially at the base of the spine and on the tail. Very rarely, the body might extend out completely during or right after death.

Occasionally, after your pet has passed away, when his body is moved or elevated, the air in his lungs empties, and as a result, you might hear a breath or a grunt. This does not imply that your pet is still living or alive. Just the lungs’ remaining air is being expelled.

Given everything mentioned above, you shouldn’t worry too much about how difficult it will be for you to let your pet go. The reactions mentioned above are benign and are not particularly distressing or frightening to a pet owner during a home euthanasia, which is typically very tranquil. Knowing what can happen will make you more prepared for all contingencies and lessen the shock and trauma you will unavoidably experience when your beloved pet passes away. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that your pet’s spirit passed away peacefully and that any physical symptoms, which may be deemed unattractive by more sensitive people, are simply physical and do not signify suffering at the time of euthanasia. You might want to think about skipping the final injection and instead choosing to say your final goodbyes in advance if you are aware that you are highly sensitive and likely to become upset if you notice any of these reactions.

Euthanasia-free natural death is typically more dramatic, to a greater or lesser extent. The likelihood of agonal breathing is high and it can linger for a few seconds or even minutes. Twitches are frequently more noticeable. Your pet might vocalize if he is in agony. Depending on the disease process that caused the death, several death symptoms can be seen.

Does a dog’s death cause them pain?

Huge, melancholy puppy eyes staring at them are cherished by dog lovers. Those tender gaze melt people’s hearts. But may the dog genuinely be in sorrow based on those somber eyes?

Do dogs have emotions?

Since our canine friends cannot express their emotions to us, it is challenging to interpret what those somber eyes are trying to tell us. Even though dogs cannot verbally express their happiness or sadness, savvy pet owners can infer these emotions from their animals’ behavior. Given these readings, it is generally accepted that dogs experience joy, sorrow, possessiveness, and fear. They also experience anxiety and anger. And they do, in fact, lament.

What are the signs of mourning?

A dog grieves and responds to the changes in his life when he loses a companion, whether they are two- or four-legged. When dogs grieve, they behave differently, much like when people do:

  • They could start to feel down and listless.
  • They might be less hungry and unwilling to play.
  • They might move more slowly and sleep more than normal while moping around.

Owners of pets understand that these alterations in routine behavior are equivalent to the human expressions of grief. The loss of a central individual (canine or human) and the link that was formed with them is the common factor in both human and canine mourning.

Dogs, according to skeptics, don’t actually experience grief, and their modifications in behavior are due to their daily routines changing as a result of losing a significant person in their lives. In other words, because his schedule is irregular, the dog becomes angry. Perhaps the surviving dog lacks canine companionship and playtime due to the loss of a companion dog. Perhaps feeding and walking schedules are altered when the new caretaker assumes control following the loss of a human companion. A dog might wait patiently in the hope that the deceased caretaker will return since they may not grasp that death is a permanent state. Others, on the other hand, think that the dog might simply be responding to the humans in the house who are grieving the loss of a family member.

Has there been any research on the subject?

According to a recent study, common indications of sorrow include:

  • After losing a canine friend, 36% of canines reported having less of an appetite.
  • 11% of people refused to eat anything at all.
  • Some dogs experienced sleeplessness, but many dogs slept more than usual.
  • Some dogs shifted where they slept in the house.
  • Approximately 63% of dogs showed vocal pattern alterations, some vocalizing more and others being quieter than they did before they lost a human friend.
  • Dogs that made it typically become attached and more affectionate with their owners.

According to the study, 66% of dogs underwent four or more behavioral changes after the death of a household pet, which showed sadness. The study evaluated a wide range of behavior patterns.

How can I help my dog cope with grief?

Following the death of an animal or human family member, caring owners can assist their dogs in coping with bereavement by:

  • Take more time to play with your dog. Engage in your dog’s favorite activities to try and divert her attention. Take a walk. Play fetch with the dog. drive around in the automobile.
  • Be more empathetic. Make it a point to pet your dog more frequently. Make eye contact with him and speak to him, telling him things like, “OK, Scout, let’s load the dishwasher.
  • Invite friends over who will play with your dog if it appreciates company. Your dog may become more interested in some human varieties.
  • While you’re away, provide some amusement. To keep your dog entertained while you are away, hide goodies in places around the house that are familiar to him so he may discover them during the day. You can also stuff a foraging toy with food.
  • Encourage appropriate conduct while ignoring inappropriate conduct. Some sad canines vocalize or wail on their own volition. Try to disregard this conduct, even when it’s challenging to do so. Avoid rewarding your dog to calm him because doing so will just promote the undesirable behavior. Tell him to be quiet firmly and give him something if he does. A hug will do as a reward if food is not desired. Distracting your dog may help break the cycle of howling. Try calling him to you instead of approaching him, which could be viewed as encouraging the bad conduct. If he follows your instructions, thank him and start a game or walk to divert his attention.
  • Think of medical treatment. Ask your veterinarian about the use of a behavior modification medicine if your dog experiences ongoing trouble after a loss. There are a number of drugs that can act as an adjuvant to treatment and may support your attempts to address grieving-related behavioral problems. Prior to giving medicine, your pet’s veterinarian may want to perform blood and urine tests to rule out any underlying conditions that could affect behavior, such as thyroid issues, diabetes, or electrolyte imbalances, to name a few.
  • When choosing a new pet, take your time. Don’t rush to get a new dog if your dog is grieving the loss of a canine friend. Give your dog some time to process the loss and adjust. The addition of a new puppy could make an already tense situation worse.

The entire family, but especially the dogs, needs to create a new, cozy social structure in the house after losing a human or canine family member. People lead lives outside of their immediate family to help them cope with grief or put the loss in a larger context. They interact with individuals at the gym, at work, and via electronic means with faraway friends and family members.

“The dog may require support in coping with bereavement when a member of that family unit passes away because there is such a hole in his existence.

Dogs have far more limited social structures with defined borders that only go as far as the interior of the home, the yard’s boundary, or the neighborhood walking trail. Their attention is concentrated on a much limited social sphere, which may only be made up of family members and other pets. The loss of a member of that family leaves a tremendous hole in the dog’s life, and they may require support to cope.

The mending process for both pet and pet owner will be aided by time. The pain of loss will fade, and happy memories will take its place. And as loving, grateful glances are exchanged between the two, their relationship—canine and human—may develop into something even more lovely.