Dog Coma Before Death – One Of The Dog Dying Stages

Dog coma before death is a stage some dogs may experience before passing away. It is a state of unconsciousness that indicates a problem with the brain and spinal cord.

This article aims to provide information about dog coma, one of the dying stages before a dog’s death.

I will provide the symptoms and comfort support for your dogs in this condition. Let’s read on!

What Are Symptoms Related To Dog Coma Before Death?

dog coma before death

The symptoms of a dog’s coma before death can vary.

However, common signs may include loss of consciousness, lack of appetite, shallow or irregular breathing, incontinence, unstable body temperature, and muscle twitching.

Difficulty Breathing

Dogs in a coma may exhibit signs of respiratory distress, such as difficulty breathing, rapid breathing due to increased heart rate, or shortness of breath.

They may struggle to inhale and exhale properly, resulting in shallow or irregular breaths.

Dogs that have trouble breathing may exhibit certain behaviors, such as:

  • Breathing with an open mouth
  • Extending its head and neck while keeping its body still
  • Using its abdomen to breathe

Decreased Mobility Or Poor Coordination

Dogs in a coma often experience muscle weakness and decreased overall mobility. They may have difficulty standing, walking, or maintaining balance.

Their movements may be uncoordinated and appear wobbly or unsteady on their feet.


Do dogs twitch before they die? Yes. They may display involuntary muscle twitches or spasms.

These movements can occur randomly and affect different parts of the body. Twitching can be mild to more pronounced and may be intermittent or continuous.

Lack Of Appetite

Dogs in a coma typically have a diminished or complete loss of appetite.

They may approach their favorite food bowl with disinterest, sniff or lick the food without eating it, walk away from their meal, or refuse to eat altogether.

Moreover, they may need assistance with feeding or fluid intake.

Extreme Weight Loss

Illness can cause weight loss due to reduced appetite or increased strain.

Cancer can be one of the main culprits, known as cachexia, as cancer cells utilize energy and break down fat and muscles.

Dogs may breathe heavily through their nose when they get cancer.

Another reason is the normal aging process, where the body becomes less efficient at digesting protein, resulting in muscle mass loss.


Another dog behavior before death is that they may struggle to maintain adequate hydration levels.

They may not drink enough water or be able to regulate their fluid balance effectively. Dehydration can lead to dry mouth, sunken eyes, and a loss of skin elasticity.


Dogs in a coma are generally extremely lethargic and lack energy. They may be unresponsive or show minimal interest in their surroundings.

When my dog was approaching the end of his life, he spent most of his time sleeping and appeared drowsy and unengaged when awake.


What does a dog do before it dies? Comatose dogs may exhibit a withdrawal from social interactions.

They may prefer to be alone, seek out quiet and secluded places, and have minimal interaction with family members or other pets.

Other behaviors may include lowered head and ears, tucked tail, hunched posture, and avoidance of physical contact.

Skin Changes

Prolonged illness or immobility can cause various skin changes in comatose dogs. The skin may become dry, flaky, or irritated.

Thin skin can be more prone to injury or the development of pressure sores (bedsores) in areas where the dog’s body weight rests against surfaces for prolonged periods.


Dogs in a coma may lose control of their bladder and bowel functions.

They may experience involuntary urination or defecation, unaware of or unable to control these bodily functions.

My pooch urinated or defecated while sleeping. But some may leak urine or even defecate while walking without realizing it.

Trouble Regulating Their Temperature

Comatose dogs may struggle to regulate their body temperature properly. They may be more susceptible to hypothermia, where their body temp drops below normal.

They may also experience hyperthermia, where the temperature of their body rises excessively. It is because the body’s thermoregulation mechanisms may be compromised.

Comfort Measures And Support To Dog Before Its Death 

What happens hours before a dog dies

Provide A Quiet And Peaceful Environment

Keep them warm: Ensure your dog has a cozy and warm bed in a quiet area of the house. Use blankets or heating pads to provide extra warmth if needed.

Offer palatable food: If your pooch has a decreased appetite, try offering highly palatable foods such as canned or plain cooked chicken mixed with their regular diet.

It’s important to consult with your veterinarian about any dietary changes or specific nutritional needs.

Company or alone time: Pay attention to your dog’s preferences. Some canines may find comfort in having their loved ones close, while others may prefer quiet and solitude.

Respect their choices and provide the company or alone time they desire.

Provide The Most Loving Care

Stick to routines: Maintain familiar routines as much as possible. Dogs find comfort in familiarity, so try to stick to their regular feeding and playtime schedules.

Adapt the daily activities to their capabilities and focus on spending quality time together.

Consult with your veterinarian: Work closely with your veterinarian to manage your dog dying symptoms.

They can recommend medications to alleviate pain, improve appetite, or address discomfort. Discuss the best approach for your dog’s specific needs.

Provide emotional support

  • Talk to your dog in a soothing and reassuring manner
  • Let them know they are loved and that it’s okay to let go when they are ready
  • Provide them hospice care by spending quality time together, providing affection and reassurance

What Should You Do After Your Dogs Die? 

Call Your Veterinarian

Inform your veterinarian of your dog’s passing and discuss the options available for handling the remains.

They can provide specific instructions and let you know if you need to bring any documents or items when visiting their clinic.

If you plan to take your deceased dog to the veterinary clinic, wrap them in a clean and comfortable blanket and call ahead to let the clinic know you are coming.

They can provide guidance on the process and any additional preparations.

Choose Between Cremation And Bury

Consider whether you want to bury your dog on your property or opt for cremation.

Burial options: If you choose burial on your property, comply with local regulations and guidelines.

Dig a proper grave in a suitable location and consider having a small memorial or marker to honor your dog’s memory.

Cremation options: If you choose cremation, you can choose between communal, private, or individual cremation.

Communal cremation involves your dog being cremated with other pets. This is the most affordable method.

Private and individual cremation ensures your dog is cremated separately.

In case you choose cremation, you can work with your veterinarian to make the necessary arrangements or directly contact a pet crematorium.

Grief And Self-Care

Allow yourself a grieving process for the loss of your dog. Recognize that the bond you shared was meaningful, and feeling a deep sense of loss is normal.


how long is the dying process for a dog

What Happens Hours Before A Dog Dies?

  • Stop eating and drinking: In the final days or hours, dogs will not eat or drink. This can be due to extreme physical decline, discomfort, or organ failure (liver failure, kidney failure).
  • Vomiting: Some dogs may experience episodes of vomiting as their body systems begin to shut down. It can result from decreased gastrointestinal motility or the body’s inability to process food properly.
  • Breathing slows down: Breathing patterns may become noticeably slower and more irregular. The dog’s respiratory rate may decrease and take longer pauses between breaths. The dog’s breaths may become shallow.
  • Twitching: In the final hours, dogs may continuously exhibit muscle twitches or spasms. These involuntary movements can occur throughout the body. They can result from the body’s overall decline or neurological changes.

Are The Signs Of Dying Similar To All Dogs?

While common signs can be observed in dogs nearing the end of their life, it’s important to note that each dog’s experience may vary.

The signs of dying can depend on various factors, including underlying health conditions, dogs’ age, and individual differences.

Decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and changes in mobility are common signs when your canine companion approaches the end of their life.

However, the progression and intensity of these signs can differ.

Moreover, specific symptoms or behaviors may be more prominent depending on the underlying cause of the dog’s decline.

For example, dogs with cancer, especially pit bulls, may experience extreme weight loss or exhibit symptoms related to their specific type of cancer.

How Long Can A Dog Stay In A Coma?

In most cases, a dog may be in a coma for 24 to 48 hours, but this is not a fixed timeframe.

The duration of a coma in dogs can vary significantly depending on the underlying cause and individual circumstances.

For example, dogs with cancer or other ills may have longer coma.


In conclusion, a dog coma before death is a difficult and emotional time for pet owners. However, it’s an unavoidable dog dying process.

It is important to understand the symptoms, options for this condition, and what to expect during this challenging time.

While it can be a tough decision to see our furry friends go through this stage, providing them with the best life care and support is important.

Remember that you are not alone and that resources are available to help you through this hardship.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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