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Avatar universal

Sudden Death of "Healthy" Dog...

This is similar to other posts but slightly detailed so I'll post it:  Two weeks ago the day after Xmas, I came home and my 12yo Shepherd/mix was fine.  She was at least outwardly, a perfectly healthy and energetic dog for her age, and passed her yearly exam only two months earlier.

She went out and used the bathroom normally and came to the back door acting normally.  Then, I saw her lay upright on the ground and start a very very slow, deep, breathing.  She was not choking.  She would not drink water or look directly at me.  She then tried to stand and wobbled up, very unsteady, took a few steps, and her bowels emptied a large amount of stool (not watery, normal), onto the ground.  She walked a few feet more, laid down, rolled over, and breathed the deep, slow, heavy breathing for 3-4 minutes, and then, she died.  She did not seem to be in any apparent pain or panic/distress during the entire thing.  Once she passed, she was just staring forward, and her tongue was "twisted" slightly and hanging out.

We're devastated, as this was completely unexpected and sudden.  Now, on one board I saw one vet say that other vets that say it's a heart attack are "lazy", and that nothing can be even remotely concluded unless a necropsy is done - and even then maybe nothing will be known.   I find it hard to believe with decades of modern veterinary medicine behind us now, that there are no semi-conclusive answers out there since this is happening to quite a few people (?).   I realize without a necropsy there's no way to know 100%, but with the description I gave is it "reasonably safe" to assume this was some sort of sudden and powerful cardiac event, or, does it sound more like a stroke?    Thank you
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Avatar universal
I don't have any knowledge of what could have happened to your dog, but would like to say I'm sorry to hear of her death.  My dog is also twelve, and at the vet last week I read on a chart that she is beyond being a senior, she is in the geriatric stage, which yours would have been too.  Its hard to believe their that old, you can at the very least be comforted that she didn't have a disease that you would have to watch her suffer with, or have to euthanize her.
675347 tn?1365464245
COMMUNITY LEADER
I am so sorry to hear of your dog's death. The one comfort was that you were there with her when she passed. On some level, no matter how 'out of it' she was, she would know that.

A necropsy is the only way you could know for sure what she died of, but my thoughts on that are, let her be at rest. There's a time and a place for a necropsy, but it might be something you don't want to go through right now.

My condolences to you, and I hope you are coping with this, because it did come as such a shock. It is a very hard thing for you.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your comments.   Actually, no, I'm not doing very well with this to be honest.   Lucy was long ago by a trainer determined to be a "prodigy dog", meaning, one that leans certain things almost instantly by observation.  The slang many use would be a "Lassie dog" type of dog.  On her own, simply by watching people over time, she learned how to open doors when she wanted to go from room to room, turn on the TV (yes, really), and communicate with people via a series of elaborate actions that were like a language.  Not to belittle my other two remaining dogs, but they are "dogs", and Lucy was more like a little human with extra hair and legs.  Even people who were not typically dog people would come to my house and spend time around her and say things like, "Wow, she is so cool, I'd own a dog if I could have one like her!".

So while losing a pet is a very hard thing for folks, when you are one of those lucky 1-in-100,000 or so people to actually find and adopt a "prodigy dog", it hits especially extra hard (this is not at ALL to belittle those who have lost any other pet - I'm just saying of all I've ever had, she was just an exceptionally hard loss for me).

I know there are no defined answers here without the necropsy.  She's buried in the back yard now and there's no way to do it now anyway, plus I simply could not afford the costs of up to $900 quoted to me here for that and cremation, etc.   I know that at least it was a "natural" death and not a result of anything we or anyone else did to her, and for that it's a comfort of sorts, but I guess I'm still in a search to at least narrow down the "most likely" cause of it.    Right now, I'm just trying to make it through one day where I can go more than 30 minutes without thinking about it, two weeks later.

942557 tn?1272698419
Judging from what you have said in my opinion it does sound more like a heart issue.I am truly so sorry for you losing your baby .I lost my little girl Peke 6 months ago and i still cry everyday.She was only 7 years old and in perfect health and my vet ruled it as Cardiac even though like your little girl she was fine before that.I have tried for months now to really understand why i lost her .But i am still at a loss can no one can truly explain a definite reason of how it suddenly appeared and why there where no previous signs.She was getting her nails done and then she was gone.Did Lucy have any health issues at all?And what about heart worm and flea preventive.Was there anything odd about her behavior other than what you described within those few mins?I will keep you in my prayers.May God Bless You.
                                                                 Chan
Avatar universal
chasha33,

No - she did not show signs of illness beforehand.   She had her yearly checkup two months prior, and the Vet even commented on how very strong and healthy she was for a 12 year old dog.  Of course, I know, without MRIs or Xrays you don't see what might be lurking on the inside that may become a serious problem, but at least outwardly, she had been showing no signs of having illnesses or complications before this happened.

Even when we got home that day, initially she acted like her normal excited to see us energetic self.  She went outside and used the bathroom with the other two dogs just fine - but within a couple of minutes the attack or whatever it was began.  She was not choking or anything like that.  I actually thought at first she was having an epileptic seizure as the first signs of it seemed like that (my 3rd dog has those so I know what those are like when you see them).  While Lucy didn't have epilepsy, dogs have been known to develop it later in life, so I thought that was it, until I saw her stagger into the middle of the yard and just collapse.  Then I knew deep down I think, it was much more serious - but I didn't accept it, and kept trying to reach emergency vets on the phone to see if they could tell me what to do (they could or would not).

I'm kicking myself for not just getting off the phone and running out there and just being with her the last minutes of her life.  But at least my roommate who she's known a long time and cares about too was out there with her while this was happening, so she did not pass alone in the yard.  Still, it should have been me.   I know I'll never know 100%% for sure what happened, but it's just the sheer suddenness of it all, and her seeming so healthy, that still has me in a state of shock.  My other two dogs are up in years and they are not in great health - if this had happened to either one of them we would be grieving, but we expect it due to their health issues - but this was a completely unexpected thing with this particular dog, who I fully expected to live another 2-3 years (at least) the way she looked/acted.  

And yes, they always got their heartworm meds and all of that every month on time, and ate premium dog food that had no fillers or foreign fluff fill agents in it, and had Glucosamine in it, too.  
675347 tn?1365464245
COMMUNITY LEADER
Things like this leave us baffled and shocked, and don't seem to make sense. My other dog was strong and fit for his age (14) he enjoyed exercise, play, ate well, had no health issues. Then all of a sudden he started showing pain, and had prostate cancer diagnosed. He lived 10 days after that. I had time to adjust, and face it, but it was still such a shock because he seemed in perfect health for his age.

The dog I have now is 12. She is well and fit, everything fine. Her senior bloodwork (done in August) was all normal and the vet said she's in really good shape.
But every day I know is a gift from God, and at any time, any of us can be taken.....
"There, but for the Grace of God, go we"....(including our fur-families)
Things, and those we love, can be snatched away from us without even a moment's notice. Life is cruel.
Avatar universal
Someone passed on a phrase to me today .....

"The depth of your love, will equal the depth of your grief".

Oh - swell.  At least I know I realllllly loved this dog, 'cause if I could afford it, I'd already be on a shrink's sofa by now!
942557 tn?1272698419
I wish there was something that i could say or do for you,I really can understand what you are going through though.When i took my little girl Chloe and her brother in that day to have there nails done,I never would have thought that i would be leaving there that day with her gone.Her brother is 7 years old as well and he has some special little issues.Kind of like how you describe your other 2 babies. It was just to hard to imagine that her being in perfect health that she would go that way,I still cry everyday and it has been 6 months.I have tried to understand what went wrong,But no one can give me a definate answer.My vet said it was her heart,But i wonder if that is just a way of him trying to help me deal better with all this.Please try not to blame yourself or beat yourself up with the What If"s and If only's.I have been doing that to myself every since i lost her and believe me it is a terrible feeling.As far as you being on the phone when she passed away,You were trying to help her and she knew that.There is not a doubt in my mind that she knew how much you loved her.Just from the way you speak of her ,I can tell she was one lucky little girl to have you.The reason why i asked you about Heartworm preventive and frontline is because there had been some problems with some newer meds and i was just wondering if you had made any recent changes?If you ever need to talk i am here.I will keep you in my prayers.     May God Bless You,Chan
942557 tn?1272698419
One more thing,They did take a small piece of Chloe's heart and sent it off and it came back showing that she had had a previous heartattack.But i was told that it wouldnt show if she had one when we lost her.And as you had previously said some vets say that using that term for dogs is just other vets being lazy and then some say that it is possible.But extremly rare.So it is very hard to say one way or the other.Cause if your baby passed away due to her heart it wouldnt show any scarring unless she had a previous episode.I know that this is not alot of help for you,But i just wanted to share with you the info that i have been given.
Avatar universal
thanks for your comments.
Avatar universal
Though I am crying as I write this, your post was very comforting to me. Just 2 days ago, my shepherd-husky mix Emmy (10 yr.5 mo.old) died exactly as you described.  Same story of being extremely healthy, active, up to date on all meds, etc.  As soon as she collapsed, we rushed her to the Animal Emergency Hospital, but she was gone by the time we arrived.  We also did not choose to do a necropsy and were told that it may have been a "heart-related event".  She was a very intelligent, loyal dog who spent more day-to-day time with me than anyone else in my family.  My grief (as yours) is overwhelming and every small detail of my day-to-day routine reminds me of her and adds to my emptiness and sense of loss.  I hope each day that you feel a little better able to cope.  Please comment with an update. Thanks. Sara
Avatar universal
Though I am crying as I write this, your post was very comforting to me. Just 2 days ago, my shepherd-husky mix Emmy (10 yr.5 mo.old) died exactly as you described.  Same story of being extremely healthy, active, up to date on all meds, etc.  As soon as she collapsed, we rushed her to the Animal Emergency Hospital, but she was gone by the time we arrived.  We also did not choose to do a necropsy and were told that it may have been a "heart-related event".  She was a very intelligent, loyal dog who spent more day-to-day time with me than anyone else in my family.  My grief (as yours) is overwhelming and every small detail of my day-to-day routine reminds me of her and adds to my emptiness and sense of loss.  I hope each day that you feel a little better able to cope.  Please comment with an update. Thanks. Sara
1 Comments
We just lost our Bichon  two  mornings ago. I still find myself crying. Although he was 15 years old, he was just like an older person who was slowing down and slept most of the day and had no diagnosed health problem. He was a big part of our lives. He made sure to be around when we were doing things. So, it was normal for us to have conversations with him and a regular daily ritual. I always called him my little buddy. On the day he died, I had left the house to have an oil change. While I was gone my husband gave him a bath and everything was normal until he put him on the counter to dry him. He wouldn't stand up. Then he defecated. My husband was concerned but thought he probably should have had more time outside. He then noticed his breathing was shallow. Right away he rushed him to our vet, carrying him like a baby, and they said they couldn't see him because of only one dr. on duty. My husband frantically drove to the next city that had an emergency hospital. They did CPR on him, gave him oxygen , breathing tube, and injections. He was only only alive on life support. My heart breaks that I wasn't there at the end, but at least he had my husband and there was no suffering. I'm going through quilt now thinking of how many times I didn't give him attention because we were busy the last two weeks working outside. He was my baby and I can't stop crying. It's been two days and I still think he's alive and will start to look for him in the house.The emergency Dr. said his heart just wore out.  
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