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Ask the Veterinarian/Death of older dog


I had a 16 year old cocker spaniel who died yesterday while I was at work.  She had been at the groomers the day before which is a little hard on her because of her age.  But she acted normal that evening.  She ate dinner, etc.  The next morning same thing, normal ate breakfast, went outside, came back up the stairs by herself (sometimes she can't and needs help).  She has been panting hard for a long time and has been overweight most of her adult life.

When I came home from work yesterday.  She didn't greet me at the door.  I looked around and found her laying on the floor at the foot of my bed.  I then saw that she had defecated in her dogbed.  When I looked closer at her she had blood on her foot and around her mouth and she wasn't breathing.  

Can you tell me what happened?  I know she was old but why the blood?

Oh Rose Marie this is so hard! I know that horrible feeling when you realize she wasn't breathing.

It's quite possible that she died from old age but often a vessel near their heart will just give out, which then bleeds into the lungs, and then out the mouth. Often they have "silent" cancers like hemangeosarcoma which will rupture and then bleed out. Her panting could have been from her heart going for a long time and then it just stopped. Sometimes the blood is just from them biting themselves as they are dying, sort of a reflex that they don't feel. I'm so sorry!!

But 16 is very old for a Cocker, so she pretty much lived her full life and died of old age.
You gave her a full and wonderful life, so celebrate your years together.

I know it's very hard. My thoughts are with you.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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