Losing a fluffy companion is never palatable, no matter the circumstances. But losing your pooch suddenly to an accident or serious medical condition can be baffling, terrifying, and utterly shocking.
“My dog died suddenly with no symptoms” is a query that keeps cropping up many dog forums with most pet owners just wondering what could have gone wrong. In this guide, we highlight some of the most common causes of sudden death in dogs, so you can be aware and do everything within your ability to avoid losing your furry companion.
Causes of Sudden Death in Dogs
Here are the most common reasons your pup can die suddenly after vomiting and/or diarrhea:
1: Internal Bleeding
In cases of internal bleeding, sudden death can happen pretty quickly. This may be triggered by trauma such as your pet being hit by a car or blunt object. Internal tumors that trigger bleeding, such as hemangiosarcoma, can also cause death quickly without you noticing that anything is wrong.
Read our complete guide on symptoms of internal bleeding in dogs to learn how to diagnose such problems and take the necessary measures.
2: Toxin Ingestion
Consuming toxins is a common cause of sudden deaths in dogs. Toxins may include medications, chemicals, and certain human food products. The ASPCA pet poison helpline tracks the calls they receive about dogs ingesting toxins and creates a list of the top ten toxins yearly.
As a pet owner, it is extremely important to be aware of such toxins and restrict your dog’s access to anything that can be harmful to your pup. This may include human foods such as chocolate, grapes, alcohol, and more.
Some human foods can also contain more sneaky substances such as xylitol, causing them to be extremely dangerous to pets when they ordinarily wouldn’t be.
3: Heart Problems
Heart conditions are perhaps the biggest cause of sudden deaths in dogs. Cardiomyopathy, blood clots, and abnormal heart rhythms can all cause sudden death.
Be sure to have your dog checked by a vet routinely, even if there is no sign of illness. If the vet hears a heart murmur or arrhythmia, they may recommend further testing to diagnose heart problems that could breed trouble over time. Although not all heart conditions can be diagnosed this way, some can be identified earlier and treated.
4: GDV: Bloat
Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a condition that causes a dog’s stomach to become inflated with gas and twisted on itself. It can result in the death of the blood vessels in a dog’s stomach, extreme inflation of the stomach, reduced blood flow to the rest of the body, shock, and eventual death.
Large, deep-chested dog breeds over 5 years old have a higher risk of developing GDV. To minimize the risks of GDV, consider the following tips;
- Feed your dog multiple small meals a day
- Avoid exposing your dog to stressful situations as much as possible
- Don’t allow your pup to exercise immediately before or after meals
- Use an anti-bloat bowl for feeding.
Consult your vet to determine whether your pooch is at higher risk for developing GDV.
Signs Your Dog Is Dying
A senior dog with a terminal illness needs to be diligently cared for at home during his final days. Being aware of how dogs act before they die can be extremely helpful if you have an ailing pup. There are multiple common signs that a dying dog will exhibit before the final decline.
But, you should keep in mind that each pet experiences dying differently, and some may not even exhibit every symptom we have listed here. Consult your vet if you notice any unfamiliar sign with your pup.
Overall, many dog parents who reported sudden deaths witnessed the following symptoms before the demise of their furry friends:
1: Extreme Fatigue
A vomiting pet will obviously have less energy and become less active even if the situation is not serious. However, when a pet is actively dying, they will show signs of extreme fatigue. The dog will most likely lie in one spot without attempting to get on his feet anymore, and he might no longer even have the energy to lift his head.
Again, extreme fatigue can be a slow decline and may be due to poor blood circulation, anemia, or lack of energy. If your dog’s gums turn white instead of pink, it could be a sign of anemia, which is usually a serious sign of a dying dog. Likewise, if the gums are pink but turn white and stay that way for several seconds when pressed with a finger, it is a sign of circulatory collapse, which is a common precursor to death.
2: Complete Loss of Appetite
If your dog shows practically zero interest in food or water and throws up whenever she eats anything, it could be a sign that death is drawing closer. However, beware that a dog that is feeling unwell will not want to eat even their favorite meals. So, treat loss of appetite as a sign of a bigger health problem that warrants a visit to the vet.
3: Lack of Coordination
A dying dog can become very unsteady on her feet and experience difficulty moving from one point to another. Lack of coordination might be due to impaired brain function, physical weakness, or even a combination of both.
Weakness is often due to not eating, blood loss, or severe diarrhea. However, a dog that suddenly becomes uncoordinated may still have a treatable condition, like an ear infection. Be sure to consult your vet if in doubt.
A dying dog will progressively lose control over bodily functions or become too weak to get up. They may even have accidents where they lie. As the body weakens, the pup can lose control of his sphincter muscle and the muscles that control bladder functions. Good nursing is crucial at this point so that the pet doesn’t develop sores secondary to feces or urine remaining in prolonged contact with the skin.
5: Lack of Interest in Surroundings
Most dogs often begin to withdraw into their own worlds as they draw closer to death. The pup will no longer respond to things going on around them, and they may even cease responding to their favorite human friends as their bodies begin to shut down.
6: Severe Vomiting
Vomiting is a general symptom of ailment or infection in dogs. It can occur due to a myriad of issues, including motion sickness, an infection or virus, or a serious decline. If the dog has a terminal diagnosis, the digestive system may begin shutting down, causing the undigested food in the stomach to trigger nausea.
The dog may vomit to purge the contents of her stomach. Severe vomiting is often a serious complication since your pup may not keep water down and become extremely dehydrated.
A dying dog may twitch or shake at times. Twitching is typically an involuntary muscle response, and the pet may become chilled as her body temperature begins to drop. Strive to make the dog more comfortable by placing her on a heating pad or covering her with extra blankets.
8: Terminal Illness Worsening
If your pooch has been diagnosed with a terminal ailment like kidney failure, cancer, or heart failure, then you should be alert for any signs of deterioration in his condition. For instance, a dog with heart failure may develop more labored breathing and a swollen belly.
Facing the End With Your Pooch!
Note that the signs we have listed here are quite general and, when monitored in isolation, might simply suggest that your dog is sick and needs medical attention. Always look at the bigger picture, such as the overall health of your dog, his age, and whether or not he was involved in an accident that could cause trauma.
If a senior dog with a terminal diagnosis exhibits pale gums and refuses to eat for days, he is more likely dying. On the flip side, a fit young dog with no pre-existing health conditions should quickly recover from any ailment provided you seek immediate medical attention.
Ultimately, your best source of advice is the veterinarian familiar with your pooch’s case. They can offer professional advice on whether there are viable treatment options that would make your fluffy companion well again or more comfortable as the curtain comes down!