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Remember Your Beloved Pet
Why did my dog die?
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Dog1980 posted:
My best friend, Charlie, died unexpectedly yesterday. He was 8 1/2 years old, a german shepherd/husky mix. I'm heartbroken and would like to know what happened.

Last week, I noticed that he was limping and acting lethargic. I thought he had just developed arthritis, due to his age and his size. I took him to the vet and had tests done and an x-ray. The vet couldn't find anything wrong but we put him on pain meds. His bloodwork came back normal. Since then, he'd been back to his old happy self, running, jumping, etc. However, he had a couple accidents - #1 and #2 in the basement a couple days ago.

Yesterday, I got home from work and he basically wouldn't move. He refused to come downstairs to go out for his walk. This of course was very unusual; going out for his walk is his favorite thing to do! I actually had to drag him down the stairs and outside. His eyes were all glassy and he was just acting strange - slow moving, seemed unbalanced. He was panting very loud too. So I took him out and he went to the bathroom right away, and then just laid down in the grass and wouldn't walk anymore. I decided not to push him anymore so we came back inside.

He immediately laid down in the basement and refused to move. I tried to give him his medicine (the pain meds) but he wouldn't take it.

An hour or so later, I went to check on him and he was dead, laying right where I left him.

Why did he die? What happened? Did he have a stroke or a heart attack? I've researched both and both seem to be possible, but why was he limping last week? Could I have saved him??? I keep thinking that if I had taken him to the vet right away, he would still be alive. But I was told he was fine. I just thought he didn't want to walk because his joints were hurting in the cold weather. But now I am reading that panting is a sign of a heart attack, and loss of bowel control and balance are signs of a stroke, and maybe if I had known that I could have saved him. Or perhaps it was too late.

I'm so distraught. I was not expecting this at all. My heart is aching and I miss him so much already.

I hope someone can maybe explain to me what happened to my boy.

Thanks.
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KittyKatJenn responded:
I am so sorry for your loss. I don't have any answers, but I hope you find some soon.
 
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MrsCora01 responded:
While I'm not an expert, it does sound to me like he had either a heart attack or a stroke. I'm sure the pain meds helped him be comfortable. I doubt very much you could have saved him because both of those things are not treatable the same way they are in humans.

I'm sure he was happy and well loved. Try to remember him being happy on his walks.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Cora
 
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Kathy_Snyder_DVM_DACVIM responded:
I'm very sorry for your loss of Charlie. I'm sure that it's extremely difficult for you.

It's hard to know for sure what happened--there are many things that could have caused his signs. Certainly the heart can have problems that would cause him to be weak, breathe hard, and eventually pass away. He might have had an abnormal heart rhythm or abnormal heart shape that caused his heart to not pump blood properly to the rest of his body or that caused him to build up fluid in his lungs.

Certainly a stroke is also possible--a lot of those dogs will have a wobbly walk, a tilted head, or more severe neurological changes. Trying to tie in the limping--dogs can have stroke-like episodes because a blood clot goes to their brain and cuts off blood supply. The same thing can happen in other parts of the body, including legs, which might have caused limping.

Another thought that I'd have is cancer. Dogs with lung cancer can sometimes develop changes in the bones of their feet (called hypertrophic osteopathy) that may cause lameness. Tumors in the chest might also explain why he was weak and panting loudly. If the X-rays you mention were of his chest, however, your veterinarian would have been able to have seen some changes there. If the X-rays were of an isolated joint, they might not have shown any changes.

Regardless, you shouldn't feel guilty. You took him to your vet, your vet prescribed medications that seemed to make him feel better. How could you have known that something else was going on? You did the right thing. Unfortunately, he had a problem that you couldn't predict and, therefore, couldn't treat. You did NOTHING wrong and only ever had Charlie's best interests at heart. I hope you are able to believe that.

I also hope that you're able to focus on the good memories and happy times you shared with Charlie. It truly will help bring you peace during this difficult time. Our thoughts will be with you.
 
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YumisMom responded:
I'm so sorry for your loss. I need to reply on this because I've been though the same thing. I also lost my baby girl only 2 mos ago and reading your post just brought back the hurt that I'm already learning to forget. I was heartbroken and I think I am still, and mine was very young, she wasn't even a year old when she died. She had some sort of the same symptoms as Charlie before she passed away and what's worse was she had some seizure before she went into coma and died and I'm still clueless on why she died eventhough her vet said it was due to heatstoke. I was very guilty and sad about it that I almost cried everyday for WEEKS. I still keep Yumi's pictures and the one with the cutest smile was even framed. Just think about the happy memories of you and Charlie, you have lots coz he's lived up to 8 yrs. I'm sure Charlie' s in doggy heaven right now.
 
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shania09 responded:
I know the term "sorry for your loss" seems to be so shallow anymore, but I know people mean it,I know I do. I had a cat years go that had the exact same symptoms as your dog. Was his paw bigger then it normal was? At the time when my cat died her right front paw was huge! My dad had lot of money and we had my cat looked at and found she got an infection, an abscess in her paw somehow and the infection spread like lightening. I hope you find comfort in knowing Charlie now has all the trees and fire hydrants he could ever want to pee on!! And he can now chase all the cats he wants without fear of getting in trouble!! I wish all the best to you and your family.

Shania
 
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NicoleL1020 responded:
I am sorry to hear of your loss. I have been through this a few times now and it never gets easier. However, no one on here can answer your question of why your pet passed. They can only speculate. It may have been his time! He was 81/2 years old. What matters is that in his last moments you where with him and caring for him. They feel that love.
 
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Angela645 responded:
I am so sorry for your loss. I know how heartbreaking it is to lose such a treasured friend and companion.

I wanted to share something from an article on this site related to the top 10 poisons for dogs. I was very surprised to learn that number 5 on the list is veterinary pharmaceuticals. I never would have guessed this in a million years.

"Dog poison No. 5: Pet medications. Just as we can be sickened or killed by medications intended to help us, cases of pet poisoning by veterinary drugs are not uncommon. Some of the more commonly reported problem medications include painkillers and de-wormers."

The article indicated that symptoms can include gastrointestinal and neurological problems, cardiac and respiratory distress, coma and death. It made me wonder if maybe the initail problem was something as simple as a strain or sprain and the pain medication he was prescribed caused his death?

My elderly Golden mix takes multiple medications each day. One of the meds she was taking is Reglan, which promotes motility. This was after she survived bloat (like Marley in Marley & Me). Recently, I've seen on TV where there is now a class action suit against the makers of Reglan b/c it causes a neurological disorder (Punkin doesn't take it anymore).

It occurred to me that when we get a medication from our vet that we dont' get the information about interactions, side effects, discontinue use if... etc. that we get when we get a prescription from the pharmacy. I was literally thinking of this yesterday when picking up a refill for one of Punkin's medications that it seems to me that just as it is required for the pharmacist to provide this information to us, our vets should be providing this same information. Maybe they can if we ask. I know that after reading about it on Web-MD, I will now be asking my vet for this information.
 
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spurann responded:
I can't tell you what happen to your boy, but I had the same experience two years ago with my Jack Russell. She didn't look right in her eyes! They were a smokie grey and that was not normal. I took her to the vet and she didn't see what I was seeing, but did put eye drops in her eyes and run $200 dollars worth of blood test. They called me on the 30th of Jan. and said she was fine all test were normal. On the night of the 30th, right out of the blue, she started having trouble breathing. I took her to the Emerg. after hour vet and they did everything possible to save her but we had to put her to sleep on the 31st. MY BIRTHDAY! They told me that there was no way to tell what was wrong with her without autopsy. I took her to have the autopsy. Now this dog, had shown no signs of sickness, only the change in the eyes, then the breathing. She was running, bouncing, in my lap fine. they found kidney failure, and Thoracic Cancer and that is what killed her. I cried for weeks, she was my baby and my best friend. We were never apart ever. I know how you feel, but it will get better. Is it too late to have the autopsy done? That is the only way you will know for sure....It was only $35 to have Margaux checked. My suggestion would be to have the Autopsy done. I now have another Jack Russell and I love her very much as well. I had to get a puppy right away, just to stop crying. The new puppy kept me busy and my mind off Margaux. Hope I helped.
 
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CHME_WEBMED responded:
Dear Dog1980,

I just signed up to WebMD, and stumbled upon your question. First of all, my condolences, my heart goes out to you and your son. I have experienced the pain of the loss of a pet several times over my life, and there is nothing I can say that will take that pain away, only time can do that.

For anyone to tell you why Charlie died would be impossible without an autopsy, which when done with animals, is actually called a necropsy. This is not meant as a callous remark, but Charlie lived an average length life for a dog of that size (assumed size based on your breed description). Yes, many dogs like Charlie can live longer, but some live even less. You did not mention his weight, or if he was over weight.....or what kinds of foods Charlie ate. I had an aunt once had a boxer breed, and she fried lots of meat for him, and gave him fatty foods, and even some foods, that, if given to the excess, could have harmed him......so, not knowing what he ate as a routine, that factor cannot be assess.

That Charlie was limping and acting lethargic suggests pain. Yes, it could have been arthritis, and that is an indicator of aging, so Charlie could have been nearing his end, do to natural reasons, with one or more problems causing even more, all cascading into more serious complications, and, ultimately a stroke, or heart failure. If this is all too vague, I apologize, but I can only offer speculation.

That the vet did not see anything on the X-ray may or may not be significant. He could still have had arthritis, and it may or may not have been visible. X-rays do not do much or anything when looking at softer tissue, such as skin and organs, so while he could not see anything, it is also very possible that Charlie had cancer, which could cause pain as you described.

If Charlie's body was in pain, and stressed from progressive heart failure, or cancer, his system just shutting down from old age, pain killers if given in too high a dose can cause respiratory stress, and exacerbate a condition, leading to further problems. This is not to suggest that you caused anything in any way, as what you did, likely gave Charlie relief from the pain and a process that was going to ultimately cause Charlie to "leave you" anyway. You gave him relief, and, I assume, company during his last moments......Nor can you look back and kick yourself for not having gone to the vet sooner. "What if's" always nag at you, but I am sure your vet will tell you also, that there is nothing you could have done.

Loss of bowel control and panting do not necessarily indicate death by any particular cause, as many things can cause these symptoms. Yes, it could have been a stroke.....or a heart attack, or even both. Or cancer. Panting is respiratory stress. Or from pain. Loss of bowel control could have been from pain, or his body just shutting down.

So, cancer, heart attack, stroke, old age and his body just shutting down, with all the complications that can come with that.........and if Charlie is already been given his final resting place, without a necropsy, you will never know.

What I see, from your heart rendering description of his last day, is that you loved him, and did the best you could, and he very likely had a happy and good life......much better than many dogs ever get.

Best Wishes, CHME_WebMD (not affiliated with this site in any way)
 
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retrovixen responded:
I was so sorry to read your post. I know what the friendship of a dog or any animal can mean. I don't think you should blame yourself. You did the best possible given what you were told and the wy he revived. The trouble is there are many things we don;t know about our pets. And some things we don't know unless we have complicated tests. I have had two similar experiences. One with a cat whom I took to the doctor and he was acting very lethargic. I was told that his kidneys were failing but that I cd inject him with saline daily and he wd be ok. I took him home and that night he started having seizures--the one thng the vet did not prepare me for--I took him in in the morning an the vet said that he had no way of knowing how badly off he was and that maybe he had a brain tumor. But he had to be put to sleep. I was totally unprepared for this and felt guilty for months, questioning myself the way that you are doing now. I felt so guilty, inadequate, angry tha I was not prepared for this possibiity, and wodnering what else I could have done. But feeling that way doesn;t really change anything.

Recently, my parents found their dog lying outside in the yard surrounded by a pool of liquid, He could not move and could not get up at he was unsteady. We did take him to an animal hospital where they said that due to his rapid eye movement, that he had had a central vestibular stroke, which did affect his sense of balance. We were told that sometimes dogs survive them and that sometimes they don't. That they could only tell in the next 24-48 hrs. The dog survived. But he well cd have not survived. We had also taken him to a vet the week before because he was not feeling well and they said that he might have prostate cancer. It is very hard to know what to do and what the results will be.

Again, you did the best you could in the situation, given what you knew and what the vet told you about Charlie. Even if you had taken him to a hospital, he may have died on the way. It is hard to know without an autopsy. You did not let him down. I am so very sorry for your loss. I know that it is heartbreaking and I am not sure that knowing exactly what happened can assuage this process of grief. .
 
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galidink responded:
sorry that your best friend passed , i allso lost mine due to mis diegnosess! the vet i took my best friend to , was i bad choice , i did not realize that till after my dog passed and i checked out his backround , some vets are only in it for the $ they make more the our dr's ! very very sorry for your loss
 
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tjames0002 responded:
So sorry for your loss! My next door neighbor had a siberain husky and had a similar problem. He started out not acting like himself and not moving around much. She took it to the vet and everything checked out fine. He died within two days.

You have to believe that you did everything you could to save your dog. I can tell that you loved him very much and he was blessed to have a wonderful home with you for all those years.
 
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EMC26155 responded:
I'm so sad for your loss and I'm taking a shot here because I had a golden retreiver that my husband diagnosed with "Hyperparathyroidism" where their calcium rises to an extremely high level, the high end is anything above 10. What is does is it calcifies the muscles and it causes death. ALL the vets told him that that there is no way that is what my Arney had this because it is so rare, so he continued to ignore them and when we got the tests back from a very upstanding Institution that knows of this illness my husband was right 100% Arney's calcium was at a high 18!!!!!!!!!!!!! at the age of four. I have a very intelligent Husband who has Veterianrians call him from all over the US and he practices under our Vet's view and License. He has also saved many human lives. If you don't know, dogs and humans have a lot of the same illness NOT Pigs an Humans.

Love All pets and wildlife,

A friend
M-
 
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EMC26155 responded:
Also, please don't leave any animal alone when you are home, they understand more than you know in the many many years of evolution and understand not only words but phrases etc. That makes me upset to be so crule by forcing lonelyness and neglect. You should have taken him immediatly, as soon as you could. I am displeased but gave you some highly intellectul advice, and animals left alone do get depressive. Don't do that any more. I'm trying not to sound like I'm attacking you I just wanted to shed some light because I have a degree in Behavior of Dogs and Cats. I have saved many many animals lives to where I used to work 24/7 ON CALL. My husband does the same 24/7.


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