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Do dogs know when they are dying?
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Do dogs know when they are dying?

Dear Dr.

I lost my Pomeranian on 12/23 at 12:30am. She was 1 month shy of turning 12 years old. My questions are, did she know she was dying? Just the night before, she was fine. The next day, she had diarrhea and vomited. During her last 4 hours, her symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, heavy breathing, and pale tongue. It seemed as though she didn't recognize our family. There were 2 moments (only a few seconds) when she sat up, her legs stiffened, and her face looked crazy, as if she were going to bite me. Did she have a seizure? Did she die of old age? I just came back from college 2 days ago. Did she wait for me to come back before leaving? I am having such a hard time understanding what happened. If there is anything you can tell me about this, I will greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
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234713_tn?1283530259
I am very sorry about the death of your dog.

I think that there is a very good chance that your dog may have been close to passing away for a while before you came home,  and she held on to life by shear strength of will to say good bye to you.  I have seen this happen many times.  

It is impossible to know definitively what your dog died from without a post-mortem examination.  However,  many cancers can cause the kind of symptoms you describe.  For example, a gastrointestinal tumor or splenic tumor that burst could cause internal blood loss which could cause heavy breathing, weakness, a pale tongue, and her other symptoms.  Seizures and lack of recognition of your family could have been caused by blood loss.   Blood loss could cause an insufficient amount of oxygen to travel to the brain.
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234713_tn?1283530259
Aleda M Cheng, D.V.M., C.V.ABlank
American Animal Hospital
Randolph, NJ
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