How to Determine if Your Dog Has Deceased: 8 Steps

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How to Determine if Your Dog Has Deceased: 8 Steps
How to Determine if Your Dog Has Deceased: 8 Steps

Dogs are good companions, in addition to bringing happiness and joy to their owners' lives. Therefore, witnessing the death of a dog, whether natural or caused by euthanasia, can be difficult. Knowing how to determine if your dog has died can help you withstand and accept his death. Upon discovering your dog's demise, learn how to handle the tragic event and remember the good times you spent with your beloved companion.


Part 1 of 2: Checking for signs that your dog has passed away

Determine if Your Dog Has Passed Away Step 1

Step 1. Check if the dog's heart is beating

When a dog dies, its heart stops beating. To check the animal's pulse, place two fingers on the part of the chest where the heart is located (near the elbow joint), or on the top of the dog's inner thigh where one of the main arteries is located.

  • If there is no pulse, your dog has passed away.
  • If your vet euthanizes the dog, he will check the dog's pulse after administering an overdose of a drug that will gradually slow the heart rate until it stops.
Determine if Your Dog Has Passed Away Step 2

Step 2. Check the dog's breathing

The dog's breathing may continue even after the heartbeat has stopped. To check it, hold a small mirror close to the animal's nostrils. If he is still breathing, a small condensation will form on the mirror's surface. You can also hold a tissue in front of the dog's muzzle or mouth and see if the tissue moves.

  • If for just a few seconds there is no condensation on the mirror or the handkerchief doesn't move, the dog is no longer breathing. If you're already sure his heart isn't beating any more, you'll know that the dog has really passed away.
  • With the last breath, the dog can tilt its head back and stretch its legs.
Determine if Your Dog Has Passed Away Step 3

Step 3. Watch the dog's eyes

The dog's eyes will be open when he passes away. The look will look vague, as if the dog is looking at nothing.

Determine if Your Dog Has Passed Away Step 4

Step 4. Observe muscle contractions

The dog's body has electrical activities, which help coordinate muscle movements. Even after the animal's breathing and heartbeat ceases, the muscles in its legs can still contract for some time. This does not mean that the dog is alive: it just indicates that there is still electrical activity in the muscles.

Eventually, all electrical activity will cease, along with the dog's muscle contractions

Part 2 of 2: Dealing With Dog Death

Determine if Your Dog Has Passed Away Step 5

Step 1. Contact your veterinarian

If the dog has died at home, contact the veterinarian and ask for advice. Your emotional state will likely be shaken after the news of the dog's death and it will be difficult to think clearly. Your veterinarian can help you get your thoughts and emotions in order so you can decide what to do next.

If your dog has been euthanized by the veterinarian, the provider can talk to you about what will be done with the dog's body

Determine if Your Dog Has Passed Away Step 6

Step 2. Decide what you want to do with the dog's body

Regardless of whether the death was natural or caused by euthanasia, you can decide whether to bury or cremate the animal. There are professional services for both cases. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations for such services.

  • Please be aware that the burial of animals at home may be illegal in your country due to possible public health concerns. Check the laws before deciding on burial. If home burial is not possible, you can bury the dog in an animal cemetery.
  • Cremation is a way to keep the animal's remains, dispensing with burial in the backyard and avoiding risks to public health.
  • If you don't want to hire burial or cremation services, you can also hire a specific service to remove the animal's body from your home.
Determine if Your Dog Has Passed Away Step 7

Step 3. Find ways to preserve the dog's memory

It is perfectly normal to mourn the loss of a pet. However, you can also think of your dog in a way that makes him smile and feel better. There are several ways to preserve your puppy's memory:

  • Remember the good times you spent together (the games, walks and quiet moments).
  • Create a memorial for your dog. Some options include creating a scrapbook, planting a tree, or planting flowers.
  • Make a memory donation to your dog. Ask your veterinarian where you can make donations or search for information on the websites of related organizations in your area.
Determine if Your Dog Has Passed Away Step 8

Step 4. Find a support group

If you are having trouble dealing with your grief, contact a helpline or group for people who have lost pets. Several professional organizations and veterinary schools sponsor such support groups to help pet owners through these difficult times. Your veterinarian can recommend support groups in your area.


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