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Causes of Sudden Death in Dogs

Category Health
It is devastating when a pet dies suddenly, with no prior history of disease. This is a guide about the causes of sudden death in dogs.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
November 16, 2008

My Shih-tzu of 8 yrs, one morning sounded like she was gagging or ready to vomit. I suspected she was going to vomit, because she made that choking sound when she did. She was on my bed when I heard her and told her to go outside. I followed her to the door and there she collapsed.


I lifted her up and she had her tongue out, so I started to give her CPR, and then she peed maybe less than a minute later. I don't know what happened to her. Has anyone had the same experience? Do you think she had a heart attack? I miss her so much. xoxx

Debbie from Alberta, Canada


November 16, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

So sorry to hear of your loss; it makes it even worse when you don't understand what happened. The same thing happened to me several years ago; I was awakened one morning by the sound of my 2 year old Maltese retching at the foot of the bed. She threw up and collapsed. I located a 24 hour vet and rushed her there; all this time she was totally unresponsive. The vet did all he could for her, (her tongue was hanging out too, by this time), but she died. I could not figure out for the life of me what made her collapse, so when the vet asked if I wanted her autopsied, I agreed, if nothing else but to find out what happened. Turns out she had a congenital heart defect that caused a heart attack. Her loss was made better by knowing what happened to her; I was consumed by guilt, wondering what I could or should have done. My heart goes out to you for the loss of your pet. God bless. Carole

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By 0 found this helpful
August 24, 2017

I was walking her, and as we are going back to the house, my dog just started shaking and vomiting something white. Then she was shaking for like 15 minutes and then died. I know she didn't eat anything, she was on my leash all the time. What could that be?


August 24, 20170 found this helpful

This is so sad and I am so sorry you lost your dog so suddenly.

Like you said that your dog didn't eat anything so you can rule out poisoning. However, this could be a number of different reason your dog died like they did.
Heart disease
Gastrointestinal disease
Neurologic disease
Respiratory diseases
Urinary disease
These are all the causes of sudden death in a dog. It is so hard to say which one actually killed your dog. I would ask your vet to examine the dog and see what he can determine is the cause of death.

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August 25, 20170 found this helpful

Oh my word, I'm so sorry to hear this. Like Poehere said, it could be a number of things. Poisoning, severe anemia, shock.

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August 25, 20170 found this helpful

There could be many reasons. The number one reason is an undetected heart issue. However, because your dog vomited, it could be a gastrointestinal parasite or other gastrointestinal issue. I'm not sure if you would want to have an autopsy done. My condolences on the loss of your dog.

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August 25, 20170 found this helpful

I am so sorry for you.Sounds like the dog had a fatal seizure.I had a dog a few years back that would have seizures, and would foam at the mouth.It was terrible to watch.

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August 28, 20170 found this helpful

I am sorry to hear about your dog.

It could be anything.. like:
- Cardiac disease
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Unobserved trauma
- Poisoning and infection

More information: http://www.peth  udden-death-dogs

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August 30, 20170 found this helpful

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I wonder if it may have been heat stroke. But more likely to have been a heart attack as humans have the same symptoms as this when they have a fatal heart attack. It's such a sad time . Best wishes.

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August 31, 20170 found this helpful

I know this is a sad time for you but you know that she was well cared for, had a good life (however short), and was given lots of love so always try to remember the happy times.


Sudden death in dogs is a well discussed subject but almost all agree; without an autopsy most of the time reasons given will only be an educated guess unless the dog had a history of previous disease/ailment. An autopsy is very expensive and most vets do not recommend it unless it truly indicates malicious poisoning. It is also stated that actual poisoning happens less than 10-20 percent of the time.

Many times sudden death is caused by heart failure, which may be caused by heartworms. If you were administering the worm medicine then it probably wasn't heartworms but a congenital heart defect.

Here is link that gives a lot of information on this type of death.

http://tailandf  dden-death-dogs/

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By 0 found this helpful
October 20, 2016

My sweet Pug Audrey died yesterday at the age of three and I am so heartbroken. She was so sweet and young I just don't understand why she was taken from me and my 12 year old daughter. When hurricane Matthew came through Florida Audrey showed signs of stress. She was panting and shaking. I comforterd her through the night and she seemed to get better over the next few days. I noticed she wasn't eating as much as usual and thought she would be back to her normal self soon. She was happy and playful as usual.

Then one day about a week later she stopped eating completely. The very next day she started vomiting. I fed her soup and water through a syringe. She was keeping the liquids down and I felt confident she was going to be OK. I laid around with her all day to make her feel better. She was emotionally alert just seemed like she had a cold. I noticed she sounded a little congested. Later that evening I noticed her heart racing and she was panting heavily again like when the hurricane came through. But the heart rate was very rapid and I could see it through her chest. It almost looked like she was shaking, but it was her heart beating so fast. I prayed for her to make it through the night. I played some music for anxious dogs and held her like a baby while we slept through the night.

Upon waking I was going to take her to the vet if she wasn't better. She was a wet noodle when we woke up. Her head was flopping from one side to the other. Her eyes looked like they had a blue haze over them and she was devoid of emotion. She looked empty. Her tongue fell out of her mouth. Her legs started running while my daughter was holding her like how dogs run in their sleep. Right after that she died.

We are at such a loss for why she died. It happened so suddenly. I don't know if the hurricane coming through was just a coincidence or what. Prior to all of this she was perfectly happy and healthy as far as I know. Anybody have ideas why she might have died? I am consumed in grief. She was my baby. I didn't work or go out much. We did literally everything together. She helped me through so much and I am in complete shock and disbelief that she is gone forever. Thank you.


October 21, 20160 found this helpful

How often did you have your dog take the heartworm preventative? It sounds like heart failure, which may be caused by heartworms. If you were administering the worm medicine then it probably wasn't heartworms but a congenital heart defect.
That is, a weak right-side heart muscle that gave out suddenly. The stress from the hurricane might have made this happen sooner than it would have, but in the case that it was a defect it would have happened anyway at some time.

It's also possible that she had pneumonia, but in that case she would have been coughing or wheezing and you'd have noticed that.

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