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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 10143
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My dear old dog has just died and I am trying to discover what

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My dear old dog has just died and I am trying to discover what might have been the cause.
He was a 10 year old ridge back staffy cross? and was in pretty good health. Took him for a long walk in the day and finished about 4pm. He ate dinner at 5pm and seemed fine. At 9pm I noticed his breathing was shallow and rapid and he was laying on his side looking a bit strange, I monitored him for about fifteen minutes and he wan a bit sick, bringing up undigested dried dog food but noting suspicious. I phoned the vet and being Sunday evening there was no one in but they could arrange a call out if I brought him in. Called back five minutes later to arrange but Stanley suddenly seemed to change and rolled up and placed his head between his feet, his breathing settled a little although his head was wobbly and his eyes looked very empty. I told the surgery I'd watch him for a bit longer as he hated the vets and I didn't want to stress him unnecessarily. He rolled back onto his side and his head just flopped down and I noticed that his tongue was lolling out of his mouth and wasn't responding to being touched, also his eyes were darting around as if following something. He wasn't responding to his name and he breathing was fluctuating between shallow and deeper and laboured. His ridge was also up a little but in a random way, just tufts.
I called the vet again to say I was coming in and got the car ready and mocked up a stretcher as he wasn't responding or able to get up but as we were arranging him his breathing stopped.
In total it was about 90 minutes from when I first noticed his breathing and I feel awful about not taking him straight away but also suspect taht it may have been something that couldn't have been resolved and would have perhaps jsut caused furtehr stress.
Any ideas?
Thanks
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Deb. I recently came online and see that your question about Stanley hasn't been answered. I'm so sorry that you've had to wait for a response, but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can. First, let me extend my sincerest condolences to you and your family. I know that Stanley was a much beloved member of your family and losing him like this must have been devastating:(Of course, without an autopsy (and sometimes even with one), we can't know for sure but there could be several reasons for the sudden onset of his symptoms and ultimate demise. 1. heart attack (or fatal arrhythmias or conduction issues),2. pulmonary thromboembolism which basically means a clot to the lungs3. bleeding aneurysm (rupture of a vessel wall)4. possible clot or embolism to the brain 5. Ingestion of certain human medications, toxins or poisons although significant gi signs are usually seen and the patients are sick longer than 90 minutes. There are some drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine or PCP which can cause seizures and death within minutes but this possibility seems less likely given his symptoms. I know you must feel terribly guilty that you didn't have him seen as soon as he starting acting unusual but in all honesty, it's not likely that the outcome would have been any different. I agree with your comment that his condition was most likely quite serious and that he wouldn't have been saved had he been seen. I know it may hard to accept that there weren't any outward signs that she would die so acutely, but, unfortunately, that's the case in most situations involving the sudden death of a pet.Again, my sincerest condolences to you and your family but I hope this provides possible explanations for why Stanley passed as he did...and once again, my profuse apologies for the delayed reply. Deb
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dr Deb,
Thanks for getting back to me with your thoughts which do seem to make sense, I thought of poison but there wasn't much opportunity through the day for him to ingest anything unusual so my feeling were his heart or a bleed of some kind and I guess giving the speed that the damage may have been quite serious quite early on but can't help thinking what else could have been done, perhaps not much.
One last thing, is the erratic breathing a sign of distress/pain, just intrigued as to how dogs behave when they are in that kind of pain.
Thanks again
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
You're more than welcome although I'm sorry that I was off my computer when you responded back. Many, but by no means all, dogs will exhibit what's known as agonal breathing before they die where there's an irregular pattern to respiration, sometimes with gasping or vocalization. This most likely reflects low blood flow to the brain which results in reduced oxygen. Even though these patients appear to be in some distress, I'm not certain that this condition is actually painful although I can't entirely know for sure, of course. It's quite uncommon that we're able to save these dogs once they start breathing like this since it's typically seen right before they die:( I consider it an indicator that they're in a very bad way and will die shortly despite all attempts to prevent it. I know you may be second guessing and wondering if things might have turned out differently but in my experience, this is rarely the case.So, while I know you're going to mourn his loss, I hope you won't carry a great deal of guilt with you. Kind regards, Deb
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Deb, of course I'll get over it and it helps to know that the outcome was almost certainly never going to be good.
In fact I'm happier that he spent the time with us rather than being manhandled off to somewhere he hated anyway, and at least he had a good last day with us.
Will be sadly missed.
Good of you to help
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
Glad I could help bring some perspective to the situation and perhaps at least a small measure of comfort.
As traumatic as it can be to lose a pet at home, I agree that in many cases, it's preferable to the alternative, especially for those dogs who don't travel well or have an intense dislike of the vet's office.
I often think that the additional stress associated with these events hastens the patient's demise and intensifies symptoms.
So, I'm glad he left this world surrounded by the people he loved and who loved him.
I know there's going to be a hole in your heart for a while but you were fortunate to have shared your journey together for as long as you did.
Take care, Deb