18 Signs Your Golden Retriever is Dying and What You Should Do

We love them to death, but we know there will always be a time to go; all dog breeds have a lifespan and one of the most unpleasant aspects of parenting a dog is that their lives are significantly shorter than ours. 

Recognizing the indications that a dog is dying is a tough subject for any dog parent, but it is critical to understand how to spot the typical signals that your dog is dying.

So, what are the signs your golden retriever is dying?

The signs your golden retriever is dying include:

  1. Loss of Interest
  2. Preferring Isolation
  3. Noticeable weight loss
  4. Seeking Comfort
  5. Depression
  6. Loss of Coordination
  7. Loss of control of their bladder 
  8. Odd Breathing
  9. Decreased Thirst
  10. Restlessness
  11. Pain
  12. Snapping unexpectedly and reacting badly
  13. Rarely moving around much
  14. Changes in appetite – normally loss of interest in food
  15. Developing stomach problems (like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting)
  16. Twitching that causes loss of balance 
  17. Changes in their Gum Color
  18. Lowered Body Temperature

And the list goes on, in this article, you’ll find all the signs you can look for to let you know when it is your dog’s time to go, so continue reading.

18 Signs your Golden Retriever is dying 

senior golden to show the signs your golden retriever is dying

Loss of Interest

As a dog approaches death, he or she may lose interest in the objects and people around them. They may be uninterested in the people they care about, as well as their favorite reward or toy. 

It’s natural for your dog to lose interest in playing and suffer a reduction in energy levels. Your dog may even cease to respond to you or other members of your household. When dogs are dying, their brain processes begin to slow down, which causes them to lose interest.

Preferring Isolation and avoiding company

Dogs may prefer isolation as they approach natural death. They may disconnect a little more from their daily routines each day and seek out resting spots away from the bustle of bustling houses.

Distancing and physical and emotional separation may become increasingly prevalent in dogs as death approaches. Some dog owners claim to have seen a detached look in their dog’s eyes. 

Noticeable Weight Loss     

Weight loss is frequent in older dogs because they eat less, but in many cases, this weight loss is caused by degenerative diseases such as chronic renal or hepatic insufficiencies and/or malignancies.

Cachexia: A substantial loss in body condition occurs in dogs with cancer. This decrease of muscle and fat reserves is known as cachexia. Even if a dog appears to be eating normally, cancer cachexia might occur. Cancer cells, in essence, consume a large portion of the dog’s calories. 

You can learn about the other common reasons golden retrievers lose too much weight here to know if it’s something else affecting your dog.

Seeking Comfort

When dogs reach the end of their life, they may become more clingy. They are likely to be in pain, and some dogs will seek consolation from their humans.

You can also learn about all the reasons golden retrievers become clingy here to know if it’s something else that’s affecting your dog’s behavior.


Many of the signs of depression are common in dogs that are dying.

This isn’t always because your dog is aware that he’s dying. Instead, it’s more probable that he’s just not feeling well.

For instance, he could: Stop doing the things he used to enjoy, Stop reacting to your attention, Withdraw from society, Show signs of a shift in his sleeping habits, lose interest in going for walks or going to the park.

While canine sadness may be treated at other times, it may be more difficult to handle when your dog is near the end of his life.

Some sad dogs are treated with medicine, but if your dog is really old, he may not respond well to it. It’s critical to discuss your choices with your veterinarian.

Loss of Coordination

When dogs near the end of their lives, it is extremely typical for them to lose their coordination. They may not have as much muscle strength as they formerly had, which might make it difficult for them to maintain their balance.

They may also have difficulty gauging distance or have poor eyesight. These variables might cause them to be even more clumsy than usual.

Loss of control of their bladder 

Incontinence might result from a loss of sphincter control; the dog may soil easily since he or she is weak and can’t get up and walk around as readily as before.

You can learn how often golden retrievers need to pee at every age here and compare to know if your dog is peeing more often than they should be to know if it’s just age or something else.

Labored Breathing

When a dog is on the verge of passing away, his regular physical processes may begin to fail. This may cause him to breathe strangely.

It’s possible that your dog’s respiration is either slow or very rapid. It might be normal for a while before becoming laborious and then returning to normal. He could also have to work extra hard to get air in and out.

If your dog is experiencing difficulties breathing, you should contact your veterinarian straight soon if you haven’t already. This might be an indication of an ailment that can be treated with the correct treatment.

Decreased Thirst

Only soft meals and liquids, such as bone broth or water, are typical things dying dogs would want.

Swallow Reflex Loss: As the dog approaches death, its ability to swallow steadily deteriorates. Dogs may struggle to chew hard meals like kibble, and solid foods may cause them to cough and choke.

Eating solid food gets unpleasant when the digestive system of the dog weakens. Dogs are no longer allowed to walk to the water bowl as they formerly did.


Dogs may pant, get up and change resting spots frequently, lick their paws, or vocalize as their behavior changes.

Positioning: A dog who is unable to walk and spends much of their time lying down may be attempting to convey a need for water, elimination, or repositioning.


It’s very uncommon for a dying dog to be in agony, therefore owners should keep pain medications on hand, as prescribed by the veterinarian. Dogs that are unable to take medicines may require injections.

A veterinarian who specializes in hospice care can offer these. Pellets of homeopathic medicines can be used to relieve pain and can also be administered as a mouth melt.

Snapping unexpectedly and reacting badly

When your dog is reaching the end of his life, he will most certainly be miserable. He may get irritated as a result of this.

He may snap out of nowhere, react negatively to things he previously tolerated, or growl unnecessarily.

This is frequently a reaction to pain and/or anxiety.

If your dog is in discomfort, he may be concerned that touch would bring him additional pain. He could be concerned that you’ll push down in the wrong location. As a result, he may become angry and defensive in an attempt to defend himself.

Rarely moving around much

Lethargy is one of the first indications of a major disease or the onset of death, and it tends to get worse with time.

  • Hygiene has deteriorated: A dog’s ability to groom has deteriorated.
  • Sleeping: A dog may begin to sleep more and seek alone in locations where he or she would be unaffected. Some habits and activities in the dog’s typical range of actions may begin to diminish or vanish.
  • Apathy: A dog may stop greeting owners at the entrance or show little interest in going for walks or playing. They may become weaker and begin to walk more slowly.

They may be hesitant to get up to eat and drink, or to go outdoors to pee; they may lie down in the same area and position for extended periods of time if their lethargy worsens.

It’s also important to note that your golden retriever may become lazier than usual at any age for other reasons than growing old. You can learn why some golden retrievers become lazy here and find out what could be causing your golden’s transition into becoming a couch potato and what you could do about it.

Changes in appetite – normally loss of interest in food

Your dog may start eating less and may have a hard time finishing his or her daily ration. This decreased appetite may be a result of some cancer therapies or terminal diseases.

  • Food Disinterest: It’s common for dying canines to have a decreased appetite. The body simply does not require the same amount of energy from meals as it did previously. Dogs may suddenly lose their appetite or go through cycles of normal and abnormal hunger.
  • Picky Eating: Many dogs will happily consume snacks, or human food, but will reject kibble or dog food. Some dogs will only eat warmed-up food. Other dogs may develop new habits, such as refusing to eat unless they are hand-fed.

I have a guide on why some golden retrievers become picky eaters here that you should also check out.

Developing stomach problems (like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting)

These problems with the intestines can arise for a variety of reasons:

To begin with, as your dog approaches the end of his life, his digestive may not function as efficiently as it once did. Vomiting and diarrhea are likely to occur as a result of this.

Second, your dog’s appetite may be disrupted, which might result in or be caused by sickness.

 Symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract are linked to a wide range of disorders.

Twitching that causes loss of balance

 A dog’s mobility will deteriorate as he or she approaches death. The dog’s strength may deteriorate to the point where he or she is unable to stand.

Their legs may begin to give out, or they may have difficulty ascending stairs or crossing slippery floors.

As time goes on, the dog may be unable to stand and wander around; some may even struggle to lift their heads.

Changes in their Gum Color

You want to see beautiful bubblegum-pink gums in a healthy dog. The dog’s pink gums show that oxygen-rich blood is flowing throughout his body. The gums are also generally wet.

If the blood vessels aren’t vascularized and oxygenated well, changes in color may be observed:

The gums and tongue of a dying dog or a dog in severe condition tend to turn pale or blue, then white. The mouth becomes dry as well. Fluid may flow from the mouth in dogs that are unable to swallow.

Lowered Body Temperature

Because of decreased circulation, the body cools down as time passes and death approaches. Owners frequently sense chilly paws and breaths. This is to be expected, given that the body temperature and blood pressure decline as one approaches death.

As dogs age and have other health issues, they may lose their capacity to regulate their own body temperatures, causing them to lose body heat.

As a result, canines on the verge of death will have a lower body temperature than typical.

What to do when your dog is dying 

Here are the things you can do to make your dog’s last days easier:

  • Allow your dog to sleep for as long as he or she desires. Make sure they have a nice and peaceful area to rest. Keeping your dog away from loud noises is a good idea.
  • Smaller meals should be served at regular intervals, and proper nourishment should be provided. Warm your meals and feed your dog by hand. Feed him everything he wants in the final days, as long as it’s neither harmful nor likely to create stomach difficulties.
  • Respect your dog’s need for privacy. When engaging with him or her, approach him or her calmly and speak to him or her calmly.
  • Consider putting down skid-proof flooring and employing slings and harnesses to help with mobility.
  • Place the water bowl in a convenient location. Don’t make your dog drink water if he doesn’t want to. If your dog is on medication, speak with your veterinarian.
  • Hygiene pads can be placed beneath your dog and should be replaced on a regular basis.
  • To avoid bedsores, let your dog become comfortable by moving them. As needed, provide warmth or coolness.
  • Consult your veterinarian about pain relievers or homeopathic medicines.
  • Consider that your dog has passed away and is completely unaware of what is going on.
  • Under your dog’s bed, keep a urinary incontinence sheet.
  • Examine for a lack of heartbeat and other indicators of impending death.

Related Questions 

Do dogs want to be alone when they die? 

Dogs want to be alone as they die; One of the reasons they isolate themselves while they are dying is that dogs listen to their bodies. They are aware that they are weak and unable to defend themselves, making them extremely vulnerable.

What do dogs do when they are about to die? 

Dogs lose Interest, seek Comfort, develop depression, lose coordination, lose control over their bladder, become restless, tend to snap rarely move around much, lose interest in food, develop stomach problems suffer from pain, twitching, changes in their Gum Color and Lowered Body Temperature

What happens when a dog dies naturally? 

When a dog dies naturally, Your local veterinarian will be well-equipped to handle deceased dog disposal, so give them a call as soon as possible. Your veterinarian should be able to arrange for the collection and subsequent burial or cremation, depending on your wishes.

Helpful Resources 

How Do I Know When My Dog is Dying?

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

If you liked the article, you can share it using the share and pin buttons at the end of the post. I’ll really appreciate it ♥️♥️


Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

Recent Posts