How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Theresa Your Own Question
Theresa, A Voice for Your Pet
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 8007
Experience:  19+ years experience in small animal medicine
Type Your Dog Question Here...
Theresa is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

What symptoms will a dying dog have

This answer was rated:

My toy dog breed is 14 1/2 and hasn't eaten and refuses to be fed, and has recently stopped drinking water. She hasn't eaten on her own for 6 days!! Up until this morning, she drank water on her own and would lick yogurt from her lips. Our vet said she's not "suffering". Up until 2 wks ago, she seemed to have a back problem and was wimpering constantly. I took her to our vet, and she was given cortisone and she did stop wimpering soon after. But obviously, since she's not eating...she's lost about half her weight. Now she's starting to shake. We've had to carry her outside to urinate-which she does. Tonight, she's starting to shake, and refuses to eat any yogurt or drink water. We tried all kinds of soft food, before she accepted yogurt! Everything got spit out by her!! Except on Halloween night, she ate a tiny tiny piece of chocolate hershey bar! Figures...she'd eat CHOCOLATE and nothing else. Well, we hardly gave her any of that! Should she be put to sleep-even if no pain?

One of the first indicators that a dog is suffering is when they turn down their food. Other symptoms you could look for are dehydration. She would have very dry sticky gums, shock or anemia with very pale to white gums, weakness, inability or no desire to stand, difficulty breathing, and neurologic symptoms.

The decision to end this suffering is soley yours. You know your girl better than anyone else. If she does not seem to enjoy her life as she used too, or doesn't respond to you in the way she usually does maybe it is time. It is wonderful that we have this option available to us for them.

You could persue treatment further with bloodwork and xrays to see if a cause can be determined and maybe improve her quality of life. At 14 there are a number of conditions some of them treatable that are very common including renal disease, diabetes, and thyroid conditions. Though a cure may not be attainable, symptoms can be improved upon so that he suffering is decreased if you just aren't quite ready.

Please read the article below as it may help you when it comes down to making that stressful heartwrenching decision:

Putting a Pet Down

What to know when making the toughest decision

By Becky Mollenkamp

Pancho was bloated and had been moaning for hours when her owner took her to the vet. Alison Benton knew that her 13-year-old Boston Terrier was gravely ill, but she was unprepared for the diagnosis of terminal congestive heart failure. "There was a kind of disbelief," she recalls. "Then I cried." Medication eased Pancho's discomfort, but she became progressively weaker until she was unable to walk to her water bowl. Finally, Benton and her husband decided they needed to end the dog's suffering, though it meant ending her life. Now, two years later, Benton says that putting Pancho down was the kindest thing they could have done.


Deciding whether to euthanize a pet is difficult, but the more informed you are about what's involved, the better able you will be to make the right choice. Following these guideline can help.


Take your time In most cases, you needn't rush to a decision. Your vet will tell you how to make your terminally ill pet as comfortable as possible while you consider your options. And don't hesitate to ask the vet what she would do. "If your sitting on the fence it can help," says Chicago veterinarian Susan Ferraro, DVM, a spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Tune into your pet Be prepared for mixed emotions: Even if a pet is in a coma or requires continuous pain medication, owners typically feel anxious and uncertain about ending his life. "Most people say they did it either too soon or too late," says Wallace Sife, PhD, author of The Loss of a Pet and founding president of the nonprofit Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. The reality is that unless death comes naturally, the time may never seem right and keeping an animal alive may only be serving your needs, not his.


To help unravel your feelings from your pet's experience, pay attention to physical indicators of his condition. Signs that it may be time include: He can no longer walk to the food bowl, can't move to defecate, or doesn't enjoy playtime or affection. Ferraro puts it another way: "There comes a moment when you and your pet are tired and done and you just can't do it anymore."


Know what to expect Learning what euthanasia involves makes it less scary, so talk to your vet about her usual procedure. Usually, the doctor gives a dog or cat a calming tranquilizer. When it's taken effect, she intravenously injects a lethal dose of anesthetic. The animal falls asleep almost instantly: in about a minute the heart stops beating. Shortly thereafter breathing ceases. Some muscles twitch briefly before relaxing, and as air escapes the lungs, you may hear a sighing sound. (The eyes usually do not close) These may seem like signs of life, but they are not.


Think carefully about whether you want to be present when your pet is put to sleep. Some people prefer their final memory of their dog or cat to be of him alive and active; others feel it will comfort their pet to hold him during the procedure. Neither decision is right or wrong. It has to do with your comfort level and what the pet will sense in his or her final moments.


Benton wasn't in the room for Poncho's death, but she held her first dog, Gus, when he died. "It wasn't violent or strange," she says. "It was actually peaceful-he just went to sleep."



Sites of interest:


Suggested Reading

For adults:

  • When Your Pet Dies: How to Cope With Your Feelings by Jamie Quackenbush and Denise Graveline. Simon & Schuster Pocket Books, 1985.
  • Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children by Herbert A. Nieburg and Arlene Fisher. Harper and Row, 1982.
  • Coping With Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira K. Anderson. Peregrine Press, 1987.
  • When Only the Love Remains: The Pain of Pet Loss by Emily Margaret Stuparyk.
  • My Cat Saved My Life by Phillip Schreibman. Dog's Bark Publishing, 2000.

For children:

  • A Funeral for Whiskers by Lawrence Balter. Barron's Educational Series, 1991.
  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst. Atheneum, 1975.
  • When a Pet Dies by XXXXX XXXXX. Family Communications, Inc.
  • Death of a Goldfish (video) by XXXXX XXXXX. Family Communications, Inc.

Thank you


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Theresa's Post: My real question....what are the symptoms of a small breed dog "dying"?....was not answered. She's pretty far gone, and of course, she's probably suffering. But, how do I know if she's dying a natural opposed to putting her to sleep. My spouse and I are arguing about what to do!! She can't walk around, has that far off look, won't eat, won't drink, and her heart seems normal. She's shaking a little-so we covered her up. Her nose is very dry. She's sleeping now. I'm wondering HOW many days will it take her to starve herself to a natural death. This is SOOOOOOO hard!!!

Symptoms of a dying dog include, lack of appetite, pale, blue, or gray gums, dry gums, inability to stand, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, unresponsiveness, and neurologic symptoms.

A dog can live for a couple weeks without enough food and water.

I know the two of you are having a difficult time right now, just keep her as comfortable as you can until you are ready.


Theresa and 4 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you