What to Do when your Dog is Dying – The Signs

& The Indicators our Dog gives us When it’s Time to Say Goodbye

You have just been given the heartbreaking diagnosis, your beloved much loved Dog is very seriously ill, it’s now a period of waiting. What do you do? You have seen The Super Vet save countless lives when all other Vets  had all but given up, so why can’t ours be saved?

Faithful old Dog

I have Just Been told My lovely Dog has Liver Failure


This was the heartbreaking email I read recently from a friend. If you are reading my website then I am assuming you are a dog lover and may have even suffered the acute pain of losing your beloved pet,  you  will therefore have a level of empathy with the suffering she was and is still feeling.

Her email was just raw and the hurt was palpable. I could offer very little in terms of comfort. But I don’t think she needed or wanted comfort, just to  be able to share her grief was for the time being enough.

Never the less the road in front of her and her beautiful Labrador is difficult to navigate.  Her hope that Nature will take it’s course is indeed the preferred option, as difficult as that may be, it is regardless the preferred choice by many.

owner with dog

Can My Dog Be Saved – Can we Have a Second opinion? 

As Dog Lovers we always want to do what is morally right by our dogs, but equally we are not prepared to give up without a fight. You will constantly ask  yourself when does this morally cross the line and when is it time to say Goodbye.

Trusting your Vet will be key in your decision , but what if you don’t trust your Vet?

It is essential you seek a second opinion and quickly, or ask for a referral to one of the specialists in the event it is a degenerative illness; you will be replaying this course of action in your head for years to come and knowing you did everything and indeed the right thing will in some way help your grieving process.


Old Labrador


When is it Time to Say Goodbye to your Dog? 

This is such a tough question and undoubtedly we don’t get it right all the time. But our dog will give us signs and once he has given us the sign then it is absolutely the right thing to do, no matter how painful. It is never easy having your dog put to sleep but you will somehow feel vindicated when if he suffered any or all of the symptoms below. You know you have done the right thing.

1) Stops eating or drinking, this maybe  an indication that his organs are slowly shutting down. In any event you know there is something wrong when he stops eating and drinking.  Sad Labrodor

2) Prolonged Lethargy/Disinterest. This is the most common sign that the dying process has begun he no longer cares about the neighbours cat, or even his lead

3) Loss of Coordination. He may try to stand but topples or walks into something

4) Incontinence, sadly this is a sure sign something is very wrong. If you can carry him to his patch of grass every few hours then do so. Another option is to place an incontinence pad underneath him as he may just be continually leaking

5) Laboured Breathing, this is something you may not notice at first, his breathing has slowly been getting worse for several days or even weeks. It may take a visitor to say, what is wrong with his breathing.


6) Seeking Comfort Old Greyhound

Whilst your Dog does not know he is dying he does know he is unwell, and unlike a cat, who will find a sheltered alone spot, your dog will  want the comfort of the  pack/ his family to be with him when fearful and he will want his family around him when he is close to death .

7) Muscle Tremors, again this is another sign.


Its Time To Say Goodbye.


I recall some years ago my sister telling me about her German Shepard (Missy) who was at the end of her life road. She called the vet, she made an appointment for the Vet to come out, she told the Vet  the weight of the dog and requested the lethal injection be administered at home.

The dog was in her bed, she was surrounded by her toys and her family,  she then just drifted off without any fuss. It was peaceful and serene.

Fast forward to 2 years later and I had the awful task of taking Bonnie (my 8 year old West Highland Terrier) into the Vets, a place she hated, we were told it had to be there and then as Bonnie was so unwell, so with Bonnie on the Vets table and me and my partner just stroking her whilst the Vet (kindly, carefully and professionally) put my beautiful dog to sleep.

The rasping breathing stopped and I just howled. We had to take the lead, her blanket, pay the bill and leave. We arrived back home and we all just cried. The house was empty, her bed was bare her food bowel all just a painful and awful reminder of our beautiful but sick Dog.

So when you decide it’s time to say Goodbye, ask the vet to come to yours. It will be more costly but it will be worth every penny when that day actually arrives.

Move all reminders away and place everything into a safe and hidden place. You can go back to them a week or so later at your choosing. But coming face to face with your loss in an unexpected fashion will just make the process harder.

There is no easy way to deal with loss. Your dog was a member of the family and quite likely been in your life for some significant time. But take time to plan the passing of his or her life just like you would a dear friend or family member. There is a process to grief and right now you may not know how your life will be without your Dog.

The old adage of one day at a time, enjoy her last moments with you and you will find, just as we have, that one day you will look at pictures, maybe even upload to social media without feeling tearful.

I have found a book which may support and help, it is written by Jackie Weaver who is  a well known TV Animal Communicator in the UK, she offers some excellent advice, together with advice for families with children.

Pet Grief How to Cope Before and After – By Jackie Weaver


if you have any advice , or if you have pictures of your dog please share your thoughts and your pictures.

If you want to talk about  anything I will aim to reply in 24 hours.

Thank you for reading my blog


I have had a recommendation for a book which has helped my friend cope with the loss of her dog Cherry. It is called:

When Your Pet Dies; A Guide To Mourning, Remembering and Healing. Written by Alan Wolfelt.


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6 Replies to “What to Do when your Dog is Dying – The Signs”

  1. I am the dog owner that Cordelia was writing about in the blog above. Our dear doggie was put to sleep on Monday 23rd September. We are amazed she lasted that long following the diagnosis in the middle of June. She lived through us moving house in August and so we have 6 weeks of memories living in our new home which we will cherish. She was able to walk around our new garden and roll in the grass. We have memories of her walking in the parks near our new home. These memories at the moment are extremely painful but I am sure the pain to the memories will ease.

    So, the grief I am experiencing right now, for the lost of our dog, is acute. The past few days have been days of deep sobbing and feel like someone has ripped my heart out. Walking into the living room and no longer seeing our dog sleeping on her bed was unbearable. Today is the first day of feeling some sort of control over my grief. I am not saying I am ignoring the grief, is more an acceptance that this heaviness is part of me at the moment. Dogs very much live in the moment and I am trying to do that. When I am working, I am able to concentrate but once I stop working the grief floods back in and so I have to take a breath and acknowledge it is there. The grief shows to me how much I loved our dog and how much I miss her. Receiving unconditional love from our doggies is a very special gift and I am so grateful that I have 9 years of happy memories to draw on to keep her memory alive in my heart.

    1. Ginny, first of all thank you for commenting on the blog, it was (as expected) a painful read because your grief is so palpable. I do find that sometimes sharing grief on this sort of platform is actually cathartic, maybe you will too. For sure it will help someone. I had’nt realised you had her for 6 extra weeks post diagnosis that is amazing. You did the very best you could for Cherry, the vet visiting in her final stages was such a peaceful way to end her life, no drama no walking back into the house without her. One day you will look at her photos and smile…. Thinking of you xx

  2. Thanks Cordelia. I have found this book and it is proving very helpful to me. I highly recommend for others to read if they are mourning the lost of their pet.

    “When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing” by Alan Wolfelt

    1. Ginny, that is brilliant, thank you for that, I will track the book down and add as a link.
      Thank you for taking the time to come back to the post and add really good information which will hopefully help others in similar situation ?

  3. To all who must make the ultimate decision, I offer this poem I read when I needed to do the same thing for my best furry friend many years ago:
    “If It Should Be”
    If it should be that I grow frail and weak, and pain prevents my peaceful sleep,
    Then you must do what must be done, when this last battle can’t be won.
    You will be sad, I understand, selfishness might stay your hand,
    But on this day, more than the rest, your love and friendship take the test.
    We’ve had so many happy years, that what’s to come can hold no fears,
    You’d not want me to suffer…so, when the time comes please let me go.
    Take me where my needs they’ll tend, only — stay with me until the end.
    Hold me firm and speak to me until my eyes no longer see.
    i know, in time, you too will see, it is a kindness that you do for me.
    Although my tail it’s last has waved, from pain and suffering I’ve been saved.
    D not grieve it should be you who must decide this thing to do.
    We’ve been so close, we two, these years…don’t let your heart hold any tears.
    – Anonymous –

    1. Oh John, that was a beautiful poem, it really touched me, so moving.
      thank you so much for adding, I know this will give such a lot of heart felt support for anyone who is suffering the loss or fearing the loss of their much loved dog.

      Cordelia x

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