Dogs become a part of our family, and few things are as heartbreaking as losing them. On one hand, a dog dying from old age is a blessing. It means they’ve led a full life, and got to spend it with you. On the other hand, it’s difficult to say goodbyes to a beloved furry friend.
Do dogs die from old age?
Of course, many dogs do die from old age. Any time a dog dies, it’s a sad experience. However, a dog who dies of old age has lived a full life, and that should be celebrated.
How Many Dogs Die of Old Age?
Old age is the leading cause of death in dogs. One study by the UK Kennel Club found that 13% of dogs died from old age. The next common cause of death was cancer, at 9%, and heart disease, at 5%.
Cancer is the most common cause of death in senior dogs, with dogs around 10 years old being at the highest risk. Surprisingly, the oldest age group had a lower incidence of cancer.
Do dogs know when they are dying?
It’s difficult to say for sure how much dogs understand about dying. However, many owners suspect that their pooch understands death.
Do Dogs Know When Other Animals are Dying?
There is at least anecdotal evidence that dogs know when another dog is dying. Sadie and Oscar are one example. Sadie and Oscar were long time canine companions. They slept side by side.
Oscar woke up, and couldn’t walk properly. Sadie went to Oscar, and realized something was wrong. She quickly bounded up the steps to retrieve her owners. By the time they had made it down the stairs, Oscar had passed.
Sadie was sad, and wouldn’t leave Oscar’s body.
There are many other stories like this one. Many vets who make end of life housecalls are certain that dogs know when their friends are about to pass. There are even stories of dogs knowing when a beloved human is about to pass.
Do Dogs Know They Are Dying?
Since we can’t chat with dogs themselves, we can only guess at their thoughts based on their behavior. We should also be aware that each dog is an individual. This means they will have their own thoughts, feelings, intelligence, and level of understanding.
What do dogs know about dying? It’s impossible to say for certain. They seem to have some understanding of death, based on the way they react when their companions pass away.
It’s harder to say whether they are aware of their own impending death. They do have an awareness of their health status. They know when they are sick or injured. It’s certainly possible that they also know when they are going to die.
Many vets who perform euthanasia claim that dogs know what’s going on. They believe they see an awareness in the dog’s eyes before they pass away.
What are the signs of a dog dying of old age?
There are many potential signs that your dog may be dying of old age. We’ll take a look at the most common signs. Keep in mind that your dog may display some of these, but not all, when they are nearing their time.
Weight loss is often the first sign owners notice. Your dog may lose their appetite, or continue to eat normally, but begin losing weight. You will notice that they are losing muscle mass as well as fat.
Many diseases can also cause weight loss, including cancer.
Lethargy and Fatigue
As your dog nears the end, they may become lethargic. Their body is simply out of energy. It may take all their energy to survive, which leaves little for activities they used ot enjoy.
Poor coordination is a classic sign that a dog is about to pass away. This can be partly due to loss of muscle. They will also experience nervous system malfunction, which further deteriorates their coordination.
You may find your pooch stumbling or slipping when walking. They may be unable to navigate stairs. This is typically progressive. At first, you may notice only slight issues with your dog’s coordination. As time goes on, they will have greater difficulty getting around.
Incontinence is another sign your pooch may be nearing the end. Incontinence means your dog can’t control their bowels or their bladder. Some will pee or poop without even noticing, or even in their sleep.
If your senior dog begins having accidents, they may be incontinent. It’s important not to punish them if this is the reason for their accidents.
There are many causes of incontinence, and some, like urinary infections, are treatable. If your pooch has become incontinent, be sure to take them to the vet. Treatment may stop the incontinence. If it’s truly related to end of life, you’ll simply need to help your dog deal with their incontinence.
Loss of Mobility
A loss of mobility can also be expected as a dog nears the end of their life. It may start with a slow down. Instead of running after a ball, your dog begins to trot or walk to get it. Eventually, they may be unable to get up onto furniture, or seem to be in pain when they walk.
Dogs also experience cognitive decline in old age. It’s known as canine cognitive dysfunction, and it’s the dog equivalent of dementia. It may start subtly, but as it progresses your dog may forget basic things.
They can get lost in the yard, forget where their food bowl is, and forget their house training.
Behavior changes are common near the end of a dog’s life. Some dogs will become clingy, wanting constant attention. They may want to be near their owner at all times, and get upset when they are left alone.
Some dogs will withdraw from their family. They may seem depressed, refusing to interact with the people in the household. They may also become restless or anxious.
Do dogs die peacefully of old age?
It’s what every pet owner wants for their dog. They know they will eventually pass away, and they hope they do so peacefully. Yes, dogs can die peacefully. Unfortunately, it’s often in the hands of their owner.
A Peaceful Death
I hope that when I die, I just fall asleep and never wake up. I don’t want to experience pain or fear. I just want to peacefully slip out of this world and into whatever is beyond. This is most pet owners’ hope, for themselves and their pooch. But is it reasonable?
Unfortunately, death isn’t always peaceful. Dogs can suffer for days or even weeks before they die naturally. This doesn’t sound like a peaceful death to me.
A Good Death
The word euthanasia actually means a good death. It’s the hardest decision you’ll ever need to make as a pet owner. Suddenly, major choices like vaccines and whether to get your dog spayed or neutered seem trivial. This is the most momentous decision you’ll ever make on your pet’s behalf.
If you want to give your dog a peaceful death, this is often the best way to do so. It allows you to determine when your dog’s life ends, and any suffering they are experiencing along with it.
As tempting as it is to avoid the decision, because you want your pooch to die naturally, euthanasia is often in the dog’s best interest.
If you choose to end your dog’s suffering, you should be there for them at the end. Vets say that most dogs will look around for their owner in their final moments. If you want to provide them with a peaceful death, this is the way to do so.
What happens to dogs in old age?
Dogs go through lots of changes as they enter old age. Of course, each dog will have a unique experience. However, there are some things to be on the lookout for as your dog ages.
Dogs age at different rates based on their size and breed. Dogs are considered seniors when they reach age 8. However, large breed dogs age faster, and are considered seniors at 6 to 7 years old. S.mall dogs are often 9 or 10 years old before they show significant signs of aging.
Just like humans, arthritis is a common problem for dogs as they age. You may notice your dog is moving slower or seems stiff when moving, especially first thing in the morning.
Medication can help slow the progression of arthritis and ease your pooch’s pain. Speak to your vet if you notice your dog has difficulty getting around. Arthritis can also appear as fatigue.
Your once playful dog may seem to not have the energy they used to. Loss of energy is common as dogs age as well, but pain when moving can cause them to spend more time sitting or lying down.
Hearing and Vision Loss
Hearing and vision loss can also occur with old age. These signs may be hard to notice at first. After all, your dog can’t tell you they can’t see well, and you won’t find them turning the volume up on the TV.
If your dog is experiencing hearing loss, they may not respond to their name or commands. They may seem less aware of their environment, because they don’t hear well.
If your dog is experiencing vision loss, they may be more clumsy. They will run into things because they can’t see them. They may also be less interested in games like fetch. Vision loss often comes with visible signs, like cloudiness of the eyes as well.
Cognitive decline is one of the saddest aspects of aging. When a dog experiences cognitive decline, they will slowly forget the things they once knew. This can include commands, house training, and even how to get back home.
If your dog seems confused often or has difficulty following commands, cognitive decline could be to blame. However, hearing and vision loss can also cause these issues.
Heart and Kidney Disease
Your dog’s organs can begin to show wear and tear as they age. Heart and kidney problems are common in senior dogs. Surprisingly, you can help them stay healthy by taking extra care of their teeth and gums.
Tartar buildup and red or inflamed gums are signs that your pooch has infection in the mouth. This bacteria can spread to the heart and kidneys, causing dysfunction. Taking extra care of your dog’s mouth as they age can help them live the fullest life possible.
Signs of kidney and heart problems include changes in urination frequency or volume. They may pee more often, or pee much less. Their water intake can also change. Other signs include panting, vomiting, and lethargy.
If you notice these issues, your senior pooch needs a checkup.