WebMD explains that many owners overlook signs of serious illness in older dogs as mere symptoms of age. However, onset of joint pain or a lack of appetite can signify that an older dog is close to death. The website explains that lack of interest in social activities is a major sign of cognitive deterioration and the end of life.
Peaceful Passings, an animal hospice specialist group, notes that owners notice a degradation in their dog's senses before the animal passes. Some older dogs become uncharacteristically aggressive close to death, while others have a significantly lower body temperature, according to the group. They recommend that owners ensure that a dying canine is kept warm and comfortable with plenty of calm human interaction in the last days.
The Nest notes that the most common signs that a dog is dying include a lack of bowel or bladder control, drastic change in appetite, labored breathing and loss of muscle control. The site recommends that owners seek treatment for any animal exhibiting these signs immediately. These changes suggest that the dog's internal organs are beginning to shut down and death is near. The Nest also notes that even well-trained dogs may become incontinent toward the end, and that medications are available to make this time easier on both the animal and human caretaker.