Signs That a Pet May Be Dying

By Naomi Millburn

A dying cat or dog who is merely days or weeks away from dying may exhibit symptoms such as dull eyes, grooming neglect and weight loss. If your pet is on the verge of death and is in discomfort, he may act as if he no longer is enthusiastic about the things he used to enjoy, too. These things potentially include playtime, meals and your arrival home from work.

Behavioral Symptoms

If death is coming for your pet in the next few weeks or days, he might display conspicuous changes in behavior including the following:

  • Lack of enthusiasm for outdoor walks, play sessions and toys

  • Loss of energy

  • Lack of acknowledgement of the people in his life

  • Isolation and withdrawn behavior
  • Hesitation to move

  • Increased desire for comfort from humans, which often happens when pets are aware that death is impending for them

  • Hiding away for protection from potential predators who may identify his enfeebled condition

  • Grooming neglect

  • Finicky eating habits

  • Turning down food and water

  • Unusually fidgety behavior

  • Confusion and disorientation

Other Key Signs

Behavioral changes aren't the only symptoms that can point to approaching death in cats and dogs. Other key warning signs are:

  • Weight loss
  • Empty and lackluster eyes

  • Dry eyes

  • Shifts in breathing patterns, often irregular breathing, extremely fast or extremely slow breathing

  • Dehydration

  • Severe emaciation

  • Gaunt looks

  • Stretching leg motions

Terminally Ill Pets and Noticeable Discomfort

When pets are terminally ill and possibly about to pass away, they often exhibit indications of severe discomfort and poor quality of life such as:

  • Crying
  • Rapid breathing
  • Absence of appetite
  • Dislike of being touched

Medication isn't always effective at reducing the pain that terminally ill animals sometimes experience. If your pet is in excessive pain that cannot be managed, your veterinarian may suggest euthanasia.

Creating a Soothing Environment

If your pet's death is approaching, your vet may also be able to give you suggestions on what to do to make your pet as relaxed and at ease as possible. Some things that you might want to consider doing include playing soft, serene and quiet music, removing your pet's collar and massaging him gently. Natural lighting during the daytime can be calming for your pet. Low lighting at night can work well, too. Refrain from keeping your pet in a dark setting.

If you notice any possible signs of dying in your cat or dog, alert your veterinarian to the matter as soon as possible. Veterinary care may be necessary.