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gpvet
gpvet, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 94
Experience:  I am a general practice vet dealing with all kinds of companion animals and small exotics for the last 13 years
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Our white German Shepherd suddenly went quiet last night at

Customer Question

Our white German Shepherd suddenly went quiet last night at around 10pm, rather than dive into the house as he hears the door open he had to be called several times and refused to come in at first, we noticed he had soil round his mouth and on his paws.
He eats a bit of grass once in a while but hasnt dug in the garden for a while, my wife said he was out there in the dark scurrying about like he was trying to pick up a trail, he had been fed his usual raw chicken+biscuits which he wolfed down with no problems.
When i left the house to go to work at around 5am he was still quiet and didnt even wag his tail when i stroked him, i had a look round the garden and noticed he'd been digging on our lawn, that would explain the soil round his mouth and his quietness, maybe he's eaten grass and soil and has an upset stomach, and it will all come out later,,,,,or so i thought....
I got a phone call from my wife at 10am saying he was lay in the kitchen, dead, eyes wide open and his stomach was huge.
I'm thinking judging by the size of the stomach there may have been a blockage somewhere in the gut, and that maybe the frantic soil eating was his attempt to clear it out, it has also been suggested to me that he may have eaten fox poo and this can kill a dog?, i'm still at work out on the roads and i havent seen him but apparently went stiff very quickly, quicker than rigor usually takes to set in.
Any ideas what could have killed him so quickly?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  gpvet replied 3 years ago.

gpvet :

Hi there

gpvet :

I am really sorry to hear this about Jake.

gpvet :

Going by the symptoms you describe, his age and breed, I would think the most likely reason for his death is what is know as Gastric Dilation and Volvulus.. This basically a bloat with a stomach twist. For some reason, the stomach fills with a little gas - sometimes becuase they eat their food too fast, sometimes for no reason we can see. In deep chested breeds such as GSD's and other like Dobermann's, the stomach is able to 'float' upwards in the abdomen because of the gas, and eventually it can actually twist over. The initial phase of the bloat can cause some abdominal discomfort, sometimes retching and nausea (a common reason why dogs eat grass is nausea). Once the stomach has twisted, this becomes an acute emergency as it constricts the blood supply of the stomach, and becuase of the anatomy, the spleen. Once this blood supply is constricted, the dog can enter a shock state very quickly, and die very quickly.

JACUSTOMER-cis3eu0f- :

would the sudden soil-eating be his attempt to 'clear himself out'?, there was no grass in his mouth just soil

gpvet :

It is a possibility. The nausea can cause them to eat odd things, and also they can be a little distressed and may be the act of digging was helping his stomach feel better.

JACUSTOMER-cis3eu0f- :

He was always a very 'nervy' dog, hyper alert

gpvet :

Not uncommon in a guarding breed like this. It is a horrible thing to have happen, and always so sudden as well.