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9 Natural Ways To Comfort Your Dying Dog (At Home)

If there was one thing that I wasn’t prepared for, it was the passing of our dog. It seems like everything happened so quickly and I couldn’t find the information that I needed in time. Everyone wants to be there and provide the necessities when your pet passes away. If your beloved furry friend has reached the end, here are natural ways to comfort your dying dog – at home. During this difficult time in your life, I hope it helps.

9 tips for comforting your dying dog, from home, with natural options.

Maru was our first Australian Shepherd and my Husband’s dog right out of pharmacy school. Maru was around for 2/3 of my kids being born and my little shadow around the house. The unconditional love that he provided our family was unlike anything else. We all adored him.

At 16 years of age, he started to slow down, but nothing alarmed us too much. He wouldn’t go on long walks anymore or jump on the bed, but he was still full of life with a smile on his face. One day, he just started to withdraw from his usual family activities. 

It was unusual for him and his behaviors was the first to change. He also didn’t react to other neighborhood dogs anymore. Maru still had moments of smiling, but overall things were definitely changing.

Tips for comforting your dying dog

Signs Your Dog Is About To Pass:

  • They withdraw from usual behavior
  • They stop eating and drinking
  • Uncontrollable bowel and urination starts happening
  • Breathing gets short and fast
  • They’re less active, if anything at all
  • They start sleeping more
  • A coughing, or hacking, might start happening

Here are more signs your dog is dying. We kept Maru at home because he never seemed to be in any pain. Even the day before he passed, he had a “rally” moment where he was smiling. So we made the decision to keep him home and let him pass naturally. It was the best decision for our family and we got to spend more time with him. However, our decision would’ve been different had we suspected any pain.

If you suspect your dog is dying, your veterinarian can do a quality of life appointment. They can provide pain relief options through prescriptions.

Know Your Options Before Your Dog Passes

My #1 recommendation for you is to reach out to your veterinarian, even if euthanasia is not an option for your family. We never used our vet at the end, but I remained in contact with them. It’s important to let them know what you’re going through for support.

Ask your vet about options after they pass. If burial is what you’d prefer, they can guide you through the process for what’s legal in your city. There are multiple levels of cremation as well. Group pet cremation is much more budget-friendly than private cremation. It’s all personal preference.

Maru is buried in our backyard. In our city, you can bury your pet if euthanasia didn’t occur. If it did, then you need a special bag to place your pet in. Since Maru passed naturally, at home, with no medication, we did everything on our own without assistance. 

Dogs, Dying Dog, Coping With A Dying Dog
Maru a few days prior to passing. This smile lasted only minutes, but reassured us he wasn’t in pain.

9 Natural Ways To Comfort Your Dying Dog

There’s not one solution for all dogs and every dog is different. Use these ideas as a guide and feel free to discuss options with your vet as well. This is what helped us when it was time and made things a bit more manageable. In our experience, everything happened quickly but mimicked what people go through when passing.

It can be stressful to comfort your dying dog, between the emotional drain and the sanitation efforts. This is especially true if you’re a mom as well. Be kind to yourself and know it’s ok if you change your mind and need euthanasia instead.

How To Comfort Your Dying Dog:

  1. Listen To Their Cues – It didn’t matter if I had a piece of steak when our dog was passing, he just stopped eating. Listen to what your dog needs. At the end of life, when their organs are shutting down, they don’t need food and water. It can actually prolong the process. It’s just like a loved one being in hospice.
  2. Offer To Moisten Their Mouth – Dying dogs may not want water, but they may appreciate moistening around their mouths. I used a damp wash cloth to keep the area clean. There tends to be build-up as well around their mouth from secretions. It kept him clean too.
  3. Find A Comfortable Spot – Some dogs want more privacy when it’s time and you’ll notice them withdrawing and other dogs want to be around their “pack” – AKA family. Wherever your dog finds comfort, make a nest. For our dog, this was his favorite spot, underneath the kitchen table. We moved his dog bed to the area.
  4. Keep Dog Beds Sanitized – This can be challenging when their bowels can’t be controlled, but keep their beds as clean as possible. I placed towels on top of his bed that could be changed out and washed on a daily basis. I would change out the towels 1-2 times per day. At the end, the bowels are more light leakage.
  5. Buy Baby Wipes – Having baby wipes on hand were a God send. They were so useful to clean up little leakage messes that occurred. Lifting him in and out of the shower or bathtub was no longer possible during the last week of his life.
  6. Sanitization Shave – If your dog has a lot of fluff on their rear end, you might want to trim or shave around their anus to remove some of the dog hair. We did that a few weeks prior to him passing to help keep the area clean. Or else bowel movements can stick to the hair.
  7. Offer Verbal Support  It might sound crazy, but dogs have been listening to your vocal cues their entire life. They want to hear your support, encouragement and kind words. Go ahead and let them know how much you love them. Take every chance you get.
  8. Help Them Re-Position As Needed – Just like humans, they want to switch positions while laying down. Our dog struggled to do it on his own, so we’d reposition him every few hours. We could tell he’d want to change positions based upon his attempts, but struggles, to do it on his own.
  9. Spend Time With Them – Dogs are natural pack animals. They want to be around their loved ones. Take the opportunity to spend some time with your dog, even if it means cancelling other events.

Maru passed in the middle of the night. At one point, I woke up to check on him around 3am. By 6am, when it was the family’s usual wake up time, he had passed. We checked his breathing and we saw that his legs were already stiff. Since he didn’t experience euthanasia and we knew our options from the vet, we buried him in our backyard. Purchasing a pet memorial marker was one of the things we did after he passed. It was cathartic and healing.

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