Do dogs close their eyes when they die?

Dogs die with their eyes open. It takes active muscle control to close the eyes. (The same is true of humans.)

Every pet owner will agree that it is agonizing to see their adorable furry friends suffer, especially when they are close to crossing the rainbow bridge. But do dogs know they’re going to die? This is an existential question we wrestle with as well, and neither we nor our canine friends have all the answers.

However, there are hints as to what dogs may be aware of and, more importantly, what we need to observe in the layers of their entire being to comprehend how we can assist if they are on the verge of passing away.


You may occasionally witness a dog appear to “gasp” for air just before they pass away. This can be small at times, but it can also be a large, deep breath inhalation that can be quite alarming.

Once more, if you see this, try not to get alarmed because your dog is not actually trying to breathe. Usually, residual electrical activity in the brain is what causes it. Your dog is not bothered by this or even cognizant of it.

What happens when a dog passes away naturally?

Numerous post-death changes occur whether a dog dies naturally or is put to sleep by a veterinarian. However, a natural death will have a different experience of approaching death and passing into it than will euthanasia.

The specific experience will depend on the cause of the dog’s death. Similar to euthanasia, sometimes this can happen quickly, but it can also take hours or even days. Your dog might weaken and lapse in and out of consciousness as the process progresses. They might experience irregular breathing and muscle spasms akin to those that follow death. If you listen to their heartbeat, you might hear a slowing before it stops.

These longer experiences can be upsetting for both you and your dog. When your dog is suffering, choosing euthanasia over a “natural” death is the kindest course to take.

End of Life Pet Hospice Program

The vet may discuss an end-of-life pet hospice program with you if your pet has serious health issues like cancer, kidney failure, another terminal illness, or a debilitating medical condition. End-of-life pet hospice refers to a customized care schedule to keep a dying pet at ease. The vet will examine your dog, perform tests, and create a home care regimen based on your pet’s requirements. A special diet, such as liquid diets, painkillers, and scheduled veterinary visits may all be part of the strategy to maintain the dignity and quality of your sick pet’s life.

Lap of Love, one of the most well-known pet hospice programs, provides a quality of life scale to determine where your dog is in terms of their joys of life, setbacks, and other pertinent information. This is worth reviewing if you are trying to decide what route you should take. These types of forms also help the veterinarian who is responsible for the hospice care with a general idea of what route to take.

Although pet hospice and palliative care are terms used interchangeably, palliative care refers to making sure your dog is as comfortable as possible, and includes:

  • Managing and reducing (or eliminating, if possible) any pain your dog may be experiencing
  • Applying heat therapy to make your dog more comfortable
  • Using diapers for dogs who are incontinent
  • If the dog is still mobile, finding ways to make the home more comfortable and easier to navigate
  • Ensuring the dog passes peacefully when the times comes, whether its a natural death or one using euthanasia
  • FAQ

    Why dont dogs eyes close when they die?

    Some of these muscles must unwind while others must contract in order to close the eye. Following a dog’s death, relaxation happens naturally, but contraction does not. Because your dog no longer commands those muscles to contract, even though the eyelids may droop, they frequently do not completely close.

    Does a dog know when they are dying?

    When their time comes, some dogs will look to their owners for comfort. Staying with your dog during these final hours and reassuring them with gentle strokes and a soft voice are essential to saying goodbye to your dog with love and grace. Take a break from your job or whatever else is going on.

    Do dogs want to be alone when they die?

    His instinct is to isolate himself for protection. He hides when he is dying because dogs listen to their bodies. He is aware of his frailty and inability to defend himself, making him incredibly vulnerable to predators. He’s hiding because that’s the only thing he can do to safeguard himself.

    Do dogs keep their eyes open when they die?

    The animal is unconscious and has no sensations. The animal usually dies so quietly that it is often impossible to tell until the veterinarian listens for the absence of a heartbeat. The eyes remain open in most cases.