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  • Author or Editor: Elizabeth B. Pearson x
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The Dog Aging Project End of Life Survey was used to evaluate factors associated with manner of death (euthanasia vs unassisted death), including cause of death (CoD), reason for euthanasia (RFE) if performed, medical symptoms, old age characteristics, and perimortem quality of life (QoL).


Responses collected between the End of Life Survey launch (January 20, 2021) through December 31, 2021, from 2,570 participants whose dogs died.


Response frequencies were described. Associations between manner of death and medical symptoms or old age characteristics were evaluated using logistic regression. Factors associated with RFE were evaluated using multinomial regression. The effects of CoD, age at death, and QoL on the frequency of euthanasia as the manner of death were evaluated using multivariate logistic regression.


2,195 (85.4%) dogs were euthanized, and 375 (14.6%) experienced unassisted death. The most frequent owner-reported CoD was illness/disease (n = 1,495 [58.1%]). The most frequently reported RFE was pain/suffering (n = 1,080 [49.2% of those euthanized]). As age increased, RFE was more likely to be “poor QoL” than any other response. In a multivariate regression including CoD, chronologic age, and QoL, euthanasia as the manner of death was not significantly associated with age.


Euthanasia was a common manner of death for dogs in the US. Compared with unassisted death, euthanasia was associated with CoD illness/disease, lower QoL scores, and the presence and number of medical symptoms and old age characteristics. Understanding factors associated with manner of death is important to veterinarians who care for dogs at the end of life.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association