Although the symptoms of a dog's impending death vary depending on the cause, some common signs that a dog may be dying include loss of appetite, dulling eyes, weakness and extreme lethargy. Incontinence is another common symptom, especially if the dog does not move out of the soiled area.
Many signs that a dog may be near death are also symptoms of treatable diseases, so owners should always consult a veterinarian to determine the cause. For example, incontinence, especially during sleep, is common in older dogs suffering from arthritis.
Some signs that a dog is dying may be more subtle. Dying dogs often seek quiet, sheltered areas for peace and safety, so the dog may hide under furniture or in a room that is not used much. More social dogs may seek comfort from their owners, becoming suddenly needy or clingy. Dogs may seem disinterested in activities that normally make them happy, and they may seem subdued or sad. Disorientation and confusion are also common. Sometimes dying dogs have seizures or muscle tremors while at rest. The dog's breathing may become labored, shallow or uneven.
Dogs dying from old age often gradually start showing more of these symptoms over time. Dogs suffering from an acute condition, such as poisoning or infection, generally start exhibiting these symptoms very suddenly. They also may show slightly different symptoms, such as restlessness and agitation due to pain. Physical symptoms such as a hard or swollen abdomen, fever or excessive urination may also be symptoms of potentially fatal conditions.