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1405176 tn?1281137777

Why did our dog die suddenly?

I've been reading these discussions and gotten some comfort.  Our 7 yr old golden retriever just died suddenly, and it's driving us crazy, so I have to ask the same question.
Copper is a big (95lb) golden retriever, healthy except for a small tumor removed a year ago.  He got his routine vets checkup June 15, and had a clean bill of health (including palpating the abdomen, where the tumor was).  

4 days ago, we noticed in the morning he had not eaten his dinner.  He showed no other signs of discomfort, no vomiting etc., so we watched, but thought it might just be loss of appetite from the heat (It has been very hot here, and he seemed to be avoiding the outside).  So we let him rest, gave him lots of cold water, which he drank well.  I hosed him off that evening outside and noticed he did not shake the water off, something he usually does enthusiastically.  That evening, he sort of declined to go on a walk with our son, so he tried again in the morning when it was cooler, but the dog did not want to go then either.  I took him for a walk in the afternoon, hoping he was feeling better (this is the 2nd day since he didn't eat dinner), and he went very slowly around the block, but peed and had a bowel movement.  That night he started labored breathing, we took him to the ER, and he died in our arms.

We are all devastated, and were so shocked we buried him the next day and did not think to bring him to the vet for a necropsy.  So it's driving us crazy.  Can anybody put 2 and 2 together on this?  I thought it might be GDV (twisting of the gastric tract), but he was missing one symptom, bloated stomach.  But in retrospect, the failure to shake his fur coat after getting wet might have been significant.  Help us understand if you can.
70 Responses
495284 tn?1333897642
I am so sorry about the loss of your beloved pet~~~~sara
1388999 tn?1370046414
I am so very sorry for your loss..... my Golden ,Shane is 8yr... a big lovable lump of love ! I understand how you feel.
I suppose it will be only guess work as to why he died ! it does sound a bit like GDV.
the calm before the storm. Anyway just to say how sorry I am for your loss.
Avatar universal
it could be heat stroke, or anti freeze or some other poisoning, but i'm just guessing. ask a vet anyway.
675347 tn?1365464245
This is so devastating, you're right. I am so sorry. I wish I could give you answers, but have no idea what might have been the cause of his death.
The only thing I can think of is that although the health checks the vet does seem good (they listen to heart, breathing, palpate the abdomen, look at eyes and teeth....etc) -they don't usually as a matter of course, run a full blood scan with the annual health check.
Sometimes only a blood scan could pick up signs that all is not well. And dogs being so naturally stoic, seem to be able to ride out all but the worst. It is just possible he had something hidden going on that only deeper, further testing could have revealed.

I am so sorry for your loss.
1405176 tn?1281137777
Thanks, we're working through it.  One thing I've learned from this forum, and the unconditional support members give every grieving person, is how insensitive I've been in the past to adult's relations to their cats and dogs.  It didn't hit as hard when I was younger, but as an adult, it's like the only pure thing you have.  So anyway, we are trying to absolve ourselves of guilt (we did take care of him), and trying to remember how every synapse in his body went on 100% alert when we threw something in the woods, how he stationed himself in the window to guard the house every night, how happy he was to play with the boys, laying his head on my wife's lap in the mornings while she had coffee.  
I'm sure you all are just ticking off the stages of grief as you observe, thanks.
675347 tn?1365464245
All those memories are so precious but very bitter-sweet. It was the best thing that you knew him, and were given the privilege to share time on this Earth with him. It was the worst thing that he had to go -and so suddenly, and so mysteriously.
I know. Dogs give you what must be the best love in the world! I think so anyway, but I'm biased.
I don't know about all those "stages of grief" I can't pin it down and label it like that. It's always just like a tsunami when it comes for me....all I can do is ride it, survive it, and see what happens next day....

Treasure your memories. One day in the future you may take on another companion. But those memories will always be precious.
Avatar universal
I am so sorry for your loss.... I lost my 4 1/2 yr old Peek a little over 4 yrs ago to renal failure. We spent 2 years and several thousand dollars trying to find what was making her have intermittent bouts of illness. We did everything we could, I would have given her my own kidney (if I had a good one to give her) but the fact is we didn't find out until the day she died, that it was Renal Failure :(
I hope that your pain eases as the days go by and that the wonderful memories you shared with you 4 legged will last a lifetime.
I for one would like to "thank you" for taking such good care of your dog. There are SO many people that don't give any consideration to their pets needs and health.
Avatar universal
Hi there,
I have goosebumps after reading your post.My 14 year old German Shepherd/Blue Heeler cross died last year in the same circumstances exactly as your dog.He had no previous symptoms and then one morning he refused to eat.I took him to the vet straight away that morning and he also had heart arrythmias.They did an ultrasound and told me that it may be what is called a hemangiosarcoma,or possibly a gastric ulcer.He had plae gums and black stools.They sent me home with Jasper and gave me some medication to treat an ulcer.That night he vomited blood and started very laboured breathing.Within an hour he died.I am still devastated,and like you was so upset at the time that I did not have an autopsy done.The vet could not tell me at the time what killed Jasper,but he suspected it was a hemangiosarcoma.I would like to chat more to you about this.I am so sorry,I know exactly what you are going through.My 10 year old Golden retriever died from a hip tumour only 3 months before Jasper.The whole period was the worst in my life.I now have another beautiful Golden and although he could never replace my beautiful Jasper and Brinkley,he has helped with my grief.My best wishes go out to you and your family.Justine Watson,Australia.
1427978 tn?1282993510
HGE killed my dog.
My dog died in three hours.  A dachshund/beagle mix named Ginger.
She threw up 1AM then began urinating and defecating diarrhea with dark blood. While I was trying to locate a 24 hour vet in this back water (Bluffton, SC) she then begun to hemorrhage bright red blood and passed away on the way to the VET.
Note: She had a bit of diarrhea earlier in day but no sign of blood – I know as I used white paper towels to pick it up – no blood.  
I am writing to warn all pet owners of this disease HGE.  Learn about it.
Avatar universal
I find strange comfort in knowing that we are not the only ones who have experienced this tragic event.  Our 5 1/2 year old chocolate lab died suddenly the day after christmas this year.  We noticed that he just wasn't acting right and so we ended up taking him to the emergency animal clinic in the morning.  They told us that he might have a cold or stomach bug and treated him symptomatically with fluids and medicine.  We brought him home shortly after only for him to be howling and moaning constantly and not wanting to move.  We brought him back a second time to the same clinic only 6 hours later, in which we received a second diagnosis of vertebral disc compression, they gave him muscle relaxant and pain medicine and told us we could leave him there for observation or take him home.  I didnt feel comfortable leaving him in a place I wasn't familiar with, so we brought him home.  His breathing became labored and slow and on our way to the vet for the third time, he died in my arms in the back seat of our truck.  We opted out of the necropsy.  I couldn't handle knowing if he died from something that could have been prevented if only the vets had diagnosed him correctly the first two times we had brought him in.  I know their jobs are difficult and animals are very difficult to diagnose, but it pains me knowing we were at the clinic for a good portion of the day and he still passed away.  I don't believe he had any vertebral disc compressions, the vet told us the xray machine they had most likely would not show the compression, only MRI, which they did not have.  I'm wondering if he got in to something or if he was bitten and had an allergic reaction?  I don't know, he didn't have any vomiting or diarrhea, he was just very lethargic and then started having neuro symptoms.  Its just so devastating to lose such a young dog that was so dear to our hearts.  If love were enough he would have lived forever.
Avatar universal
Our golden retriever died suddenly at age 10 on 12/28.  She was recently diagnosed with Valley Fever (we live in AZ) and started on antibiotics 2 weeks prior to her death.  She also might have had osteosarcoma (bone cancer) as the xray of her paw (recent limping) indicated something eating away at the bone, and the only causes of that were bone cancer and/or Valley Fever.  We were happy that she tested positive for Valley Fever since that is treatable with meds.  However, I was playing with her and then had her lay down so I could return to work.  30 minutes later I noticed she was lifeless and determined she was dead.  I, too, was shocked and can only conclude she did have the bone cancer as well that must have spread and possibly she had an emboli.  We lost our German Shepherd a month prior from complications of a seizure disorder and had to put her to sleep when she had a seizure that the ER vet could not stop.  At least we understood what happened with her.  With our Golden, it was so sudden and I understand your pain.  The loss of our two is heartbreaking to say the least.  Some things can't be explained - please go to Rainbow Bridge site for comfort.  
Avatar universal
First I want to say I am so sorry for your families loss.  I am going thru the same thing right now. I had my Kodie a beautiful healthy golden for 11 years and 2 months. He had his regular checkups and always got a clean bill of health.  He passed away on the bathroom floor alone.  It is killing me that I wasnt' there for him. He was his normal self that day. Eating going to the bathroom and playing, no signs of not feeling well. I know he didn't get into anything but I just don't know what happened. The vet said heart or cancer. We may never know what happened my prayer is that he went peacfully without pain. He was a happy loving polite and kind dog. Right now I am consumed with such grief and pain that all I do is cry. I know in time when I think about my Kodie I will smile in my heart of the beautiful life I had with him. I lost my father 2 years ago suddenly from an enlarge health, he also was in perfect health. My poppy was an angel here on this earth. He never showed anger. Never. Stupid things like someone would cut us off on the road and my mom would be saying a few choice words and my poppy would say "well they may just have an emergency". Never had he an unkind word for anything or anyone. I never even heard him say the word damn. My poppy had a golden and the day my poppy died Bailey never left his side it's like he knew.  My Poppy died on his bedroom floor and til this day this is where Bailey his dog sleeps. I miss them and life here will never be the same without them. GOD bless you all and may the memories of your loved ones  that pain you after there loss one day warm your heart and make it smile the way your golden smiled at you everyday.
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