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Adirondackwannabe's avatar

For a dog, what are the symptoms that a terminal illness has reached the end stage?

Asked by Adirondackwannabe (36555points) February 15th, 2011

My brother’s dog had a cancerous spleen removed a few months ago. He was fine for awhile. Now he’s showing some affects. The change in his enthusiasm is noticeable and he is slower and much less active. He’s also warm and has been eating snow a lot. He doesn’t seem to be in pain at this time. Anything else to watch for?

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19 Answers

marinelife's avatar

That may be all that you see. Until you can tell that he is in pain. (Twitching back leg, panting).

janbb's avatar

My dog lost almost all interest in eating when he was terminal. Among other things, he had congestive hert failure and had to lift up his head to breathe.

Meego's avatar

My chocolate lab was deathly ill about 6 months ago. These were the signs: total disinterest in all food, water, walking, minimal bathroom time, weight loss, hair color went funny, and panting and salivating, and barely any movement with times of breathing that stopped for at least a minute.
If your brothers dog is eating snow, that is ok. If it’s eating and drinking at least once a day but becomes disinterested in it that could be a sign of something bigger.
I don’t know if it was the condition with my dog that caused all the symptoms that she had but she looked like death, they really did not figure out the cause, I still don’t really know what was wrong but the vet was thinking, IBS. She was in ICU for 2 weeks and is doing great now. I wish your brother luck.

john65pennington's avatar

What does the vet say about these conditions?

Generally, these are the good signs my dog is healthy and not in pain: his nose is cold and moist and he is always hungry and playful. Border collies will let you know when they are sick. We are lucky.

I would take the dog back to the vet.

hug_of_war's avatar

When my friend’s dog was terminal she (the dog) just kind of moped around all the time, very little spunk, barely moved, she just seemed unhappy.

downtide's avatar

My elderly dog showed all these signs a month or so ago; total loss of appetite, listless, reluctance to move, unable to get up on the furniture, no interest in going for a walk. I was afraid that I was going to lose her. I took her to the vet and a blood test confirmed some kind of infection. A course of antibiotics later, she was eating and playing, completely back to normal. So just because something looks terminal, doesn’t mean it is. Always get a vet’s opinion first.

blueiiznh's avatar

Your Vet will be the resource for the best answer to these questions.
I lost my 12 year old Akita about 9 months ago. You will see a decline in the dogs interest, energy, appetite, bodily functions, etc.
It is a hard choice, but if you truly care for the animal you will hopefully know you are making this choice for the animal and not you.
I have also read that you will see various signs that are not major. Have your Brother and any other family members sit down with their dog. As funny as it may sound to some, have them talk to their dog one on one and tell their dog what they see and feel and what the future may hold. I found this extreemly helpful to self to go through this to help remove any guilt feelings and start the potential grieving process.
It is hard to say goodbye to a family pet that has been part of the family.
I hope the dog improves, but it is also ok to be prepared when the signs are there.

YoBob's avatar

Bottom line is that your dog will let you know when it’s time.

As one who had to make that decision for our 14 year old lab mix who was more of a first child than a pet, I can tell you that it is not an easy one. However, eventually it reaches a point where you both know it is just the right thing to do.

SmashTheState's avatar

My experience (with rats and dogs, which are social animals — YMMV with more solitary animals like cats) is that when the end is near they tend to withdraw. They seem to instinctively begin removing themselves from social situations and huddling by themselves in a dark, warm place. It makes sense on an evolutionary level, since the pack (or nest or family) is more likely to survive if dying members withdraw themselves so as not to use up possibly scarce resources. One sees the same thing among humans who live in inhospitable environments; very old or sick individuals will instinctively remove themselves from the tribe and go off by themselves to die.

peridot's avatar

This dog is extremely fortunate that he’s got humans watching him for signs of pain and suffering. The fact that he’s still moving around and taking in anything (including snow) is good, although I can see why you’d be otherwise concerned.

Watch his eyes. Even if he’s having a rough day or week, he may still be trying to bounce back. If/ when he takes on that “I’m done” expression, it may very well be time.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

The dog passed away peacefully in his sleep this week. He was a hell of a dog. R.I.P. Charley

blueiiznh's avatar

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Author unknown

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@blueiiznh Thank you. That is a beautiful piece.

Meego's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe My condolences. That sadly was probably the best way for the dog to go IMO. XO your way at this difficult time for you and any of your family who have been hit by grief.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Meego Thank you.That was the best for him. At home with his peeps, figuring out which shoe to chew on next.

downtide's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m so sorry for your loss. But I’m sure he knew how much you loved him, right up to the end.

@blueiiznh I’ve heard of the Rainbow Bridge before but I’ve never read that piece until now. It made me cry. (in a good way).

Meego's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I totally agree and your welcome :)

peridot's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m so sorry. I, too, very firmly believe beloved pets wait for us on the other side. Charley is fine now and waiting for you.

For now, just remember to breathe…


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