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No pet parent wants to think or talk about the passing away of their beloved pets.
The thought of losing a loyal, affectionate, forgiving, and friendly friend hits hard.
Yet, at some point, dogs leave those they love either because of old age, disease, or an accident.
If your doggie suffers from something that kills them slowly, the sight of watching them die is incredibly heartbreaking.
A dying dog does a lot of strange things. It is as though canines can sense when the curtains are closing in on them.
Some hide from those they love to die all alone.
Others become clingier—wanting to be cuddled and petted more than usual.
Another bizarre thing that pet parents often come across is their dogs facing east when they die.
For some reason, regardless of where the dog is, they will align their bodies to face the east as they wait to take their last breath.
The trend has been happening since men and dogs became good friends.
As a result, it has sparked a lot of debate in canine circles.
We are here to set the record straight.
Why Do Dogs Face East When They Die?
The question of why dogs choose to face east in their last moments before has no scientific proof whatsoever.
There are simply theories of what can trigger the behavior.
Some of them include the following:
1. To Alight Themselves with the Earth’s Magnetic Field
The earth’s magnetic field or geometric field is a magnetic field extending from the interior of the Earth’s globe into space.
The field is generated by electric currents that result from the motion of convection currents generated by a mixture of nickel and molten iron in the globe’s outer core.
Without the magnetic field, charged particles emanating from the sun would reach the earth and paralyze all life on it.
Scientists have been studying the effect of the magnetic field on the behavior of animals for a while.
So far, there’s proof that dogs face north as they poop to align themselves with the magnetic field.
This was discovered by 12 researchers from Czech and German universities as they carried out experiments on 37 breeds of dogs over a period of two years.
In calm conditions, the dogs automatically face north as they defecate.
This reveals some kind of connection between dog behavior and the earth’s magnetic field.
The same can be said for dogs facing east as they die.
As death approaches, dogs become disoriented and shut down.
However, they can, at the very least, sense the magnetic field at their point of death.
Aligning themselves to it helps them navigate the world around them.
Research is still limited in this topic, but there’s a possibility that dogs can sense the magnetic field.
When they do, they align with it and hope to find peace in their final moments.
2. To Face the Sun
Another theory that could explain why dogs face east when they die is to face the sun.
Dogs, in general, are very fond of the sun.
Those that have owned many canines before can attest to this.
When outside, they will find pockets of sunshine in the grass to bask in.
Even when it is blazing, they love rolling on the sunny concrete just to take in the solar rays.
Those that mainly spend their days inside still find ways to gravitate towards sources of the sun such as the windows.
Like humans, dogs love being in the sun because it makes them feel warm and relaxed.
According to the DMV and Chief Veterinarian Officer at Bond Vet, ZaySatchu, the sun is a natural mood booster. Its warmth can be relaxing and soothing.
As your dog comes near the end of her life, she may face the east for the same relaxing and soothing feeling.
With everything that is going on in her body, a little mood boost and relaxation goes a long way.
If she’s cold, the sun provides the warmth she desperately needs to go through that agonizing time.
Can A Dog Sense It’s Going To Die?
With all the bizarre signs that dogs throw at their owners as they are about to die, it is natural to wonder if they can actually sense that they are about to go or not.
Based on the signs, many dog parents do believe that their pets can tell when time’s up.
While speaking to PetMD, Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian is convinced that dogs have some sort of comprehension about their own death.
She claims that in his years of doing house calls, she’s seen many instances of dying pets behaving as though they knew death was near.
An example is a dog that waited for its owner to fly home before breathing its last.
What was interesting is that the owner had experienced some travel delays but for some reason, the dog held on.
As soon as the person arrived home, his doggie cuddled with him, licked him a little then lost consciousness.
There are many such stories online.
But do these things reveal that dogs do sense they are dying?
It is hard to tell for sure.
Another school of thought claims that dogs can tell their bodies are taking a beating but they don’t know that they will pass away.
Their behavior is informed by how humans and other pets behave toward dying dogs.
Feelings of sympathy, crying, and lots of affection can pass the message that the dog is on its way out.
The bottom line is that it is difficult to know if a dog can sense death or not.
Do Dogs Wander Before They Die?
One of the behaviors a dying dog will display is hiding from those she loved.
There’s an old wives’ tale that when a dog disappears from home, it is going away to die.
Well, in the real sense, dogs hide for different reasons including discomfort, stress, fear, illness, and death.
Before dying, dogs may wander away from home out of an instinctive need to protect themselves.
They realize that their bodies are weak and vulnerable. Exposure to people and other pets can be dangerous to them.
Learn more here: Why Do Dogs Hide When They Are Dying?
Do All Animals Face East When They Die?
There’s no proof showing that animals die facing east.
Different animals die facing different directions.
Those that face east perhaps do so for the same reasons as dogs.
They can sense the earth’s magnetic field and align themselves to it for peace’s sake.
Others do it to face the sun and draw its benefits before they leave this world.
As scientists explore this topic more, we certainly hope to have a more concrete answer to this question.
Other Things Dogs Do Before They Die
As mentioned before, dogs display all kinds of signs before dying.
Facing east is one of them. Others include the following:
We have explained this already. Dogs hide for protection reasons.
Others do it to get a comfortable and quieter spot.
II. Withdrawal from People and Other Pets
A dying dog has very little energy because her organs are shutting down.
She doesn’t have any sensation to eat or drink meaning he stays dehydrated and hungry the entire time.
As a result, she will be disinterested in any kind of activity including moving, cuddling, and playing.
To make things easier for her, she will simply withdraw from everything and everyone.
III. Being clingier than usual
While many pups want to be alone when they are dying, others take the opposite direction.
They want to be so close to those they love – licking them, wanting to be cuddled and hugged, and following them around (if their bodies can handle it).
IV. Signs of Discomfort
These include panting, pacing, nighttime restlessness, and crying.
Do Dogs Suffer When They Die?
According to VetHelpDirect.com, dogs go through unpleasant and prolonged signs before death come upon them.
These include vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, seizures, dehydration, loss of appetite, loss of mobility, incontinence, extreme fatigue, and pain.
All these symptoms cause a lot of suffering for the dogs, however stoic they may appear.
It is extremely rare for a pooch to be dying and not be experiencing pain, discomfort, and agony.
This is the sole reason pet owners opt for euthanasia to give them a painless and quick death.
There it is – the answer to why dogs face east when dying.
The truth of the matter is that research isn’t conclusive on why our adorable companions exhibit this behavior.
We can only speculate that they do it to align with the magnetic field or face the sun.
Now you know!
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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.