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Recognising Clinical Signs Nearing Life’s End (Pets)

This article goes in-depth into the clinical signs that pet owners should look out for as their beloved companions approach the end of their lives.
In this article we will go into the physical and behavioural changes that may indicate a pet’s declining health, helping pet owners navigate this challenging phase with sensitivity and understanding. From changes in appetite and mobility to alterations in behaviour and energy levels, this article provides a comprehensive guide to recognising these signs and offers suggestions on how to provide compassionate care for your pet.

1) Decreased or loss of interest in social interactions and activities

A once sociable and affectionate pet may start to withdraw from interactions and play time, and lose interest in the activities they once found enjoyable, preferring solitude.

2. Loss of appetite

A loss of appetite or a significant decrease in food consumption may signal a decline in health, especially if they ignore their favourite foods and treats.

3. Overall weakness and lethargy

A decrease in energy levels and overall activity may be a sign of pain, illness, or the natural slowing down that often occurs in older pets. They might also not want to go out for walks or show little to no interest in them. Here are some more articles that will help you understand lethargy in your dogs or cats specifically.

4. Incontinence

Loss of control over bladder or bowel function may occur, either due to aging or underlying health conditions. If you are unsure of the cause, please contact your local vet.

5. Weightloss & Vomiting/Diarrhoea

Weight loss accompanied by the inability to eat, vomiting, and diarrhea can be indicative of various health issues in pets. If your pet vomits more than 4 times a day constantly for 2-3 days or has diarrhoea with blood for more than 3 days please immediately see your nearest veterinary clinic.

Here are some causes and symptoms of weight loss in senior dogs.

10 Steps you can take for the signs found above for your pet

  1. Consult a Veterinarian:
    • Before assuming it’s due to aging, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.
  2. Regular Check-ups:
    • Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for senior dogs to catch and address any health issues early.
  3. Adjust Diet:
    • Consider a senior-specific diet that supports joint health and overall well-being.
  4. Comfortable Environment:
    • Ensure that the living environment is comfortable and safe. Soft bedding and a warm, quiet place can make a significant difference.
  5. Gentle Exercise:
    • Encourage light and gentle exercise. Tailor activities to your dog’s abilities, considering any physical limitations.
  6. Social Interaction:
    • Spend quality time with your dog. Provide gentle grooming, and massages, or simply sit with them to offer companionship.
  7. Cognitive Stimulation:
    • Engage in activities that stimulate the mind, such as puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys. This can help keep their brain active.
  8. Medical Intervention:
    • In some cases, medications or supplements may be prescribed to address pain, arthritis, or cognitive issues.
  9. Professional Advice:
    • Seek advice from a professional dog behaviorist or trainer who specialises in senior dogs.
  10. Monitor and Adjust:
    • Pay attention to your dog’s behavior, and be willing to adapt your approach based on their needs.

Always consult with your veterinarian before making significant changes to your dog’s diet, exercise routine, or introducing supplements. Each dog is unique, and a tailored approach is crucial for their well-being.

In Summary

Pet owners must be attentive to these behavioral changes and consult with a veterinarian if they notice any significant shifts in their pet’s habits. While these changes may indicate the end of life, they could also be symptoms of treatable conditions. Yearly veterinary check-ups are extremely important as pets age to address potential health issues quickly.


Here are articles to help you navigate the difficult moments when it’s time to bid farewell to your cherished companion:

Need more assistance or information regarding Aqua Cremation for your pet?

Simply head over to our FAQ for any questions you may have.

Reach out us at +65 8866 7374 or email us at [email protected]. We can answer any questions you have about the process as well as the services and products provided by The Green Mortician in Singapore.

 References

  1. Gail Hawkes (veterinary nurse in Gateshead) (1991) Care and Management of the Geriatric, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 6:2, 45-50, DOI: 10.1080/17415349.1991.11012343
  2. Claire Hargrave (2011) Behavioural first aid for elderly cats and dog, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 26:11, 410-412, DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2011.00099.x
  3. Jennifer Critchley (2014) Practicalities of senior wellness clinics, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 29:2, 54-56, DOI: 10.1111/vnj.12112
  4. Susan L. Holt (2021) The nutritional assessment and senior patients, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 36:12, 346-349, DOI: 10.1080/17415349.2021.1951635
  5. Gillette, L. (2023, February 27). Signs a Dog Is Dying. Www.petmd.com. https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/signs-dog-dying
  6. Banks, F. (2017). Urinary and Fecal Incontinence. Treatment and Care of the Geriatric Veterinary Patient, 199-208.
  7. Cox, S. (2017). Age‐Related Gastrointestinal Conditions and Considerations for Nutrition. Treatment and Care of the Geriatric Veterinary Patient, 185-197.
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