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Ask the Veterinarian/6-Year Old Dog Died Instantaneously - Why??


Hi -

Our healthy dog (pit-terrier mix) passed away suddenly / instantaneously this morning and I'm hoping to learn reasons why this could have happened.  I was walking her this morning off the leash and she chased after something and I lost sight of her for maybe 15 seconds.  When I found her, she was laying on her side, mouth open, tongue out, and was totally lifeless.  What could have caused this??  It's so strange that my wife and I are just so devastated by the sudden loss of her so unexpectedly.  We live in Israel if that helps.  Could it have been a snake bite to the face?  Heart attack?  There were absolutely no symptoms beforehand and she died instantaneously and was completely gone when I found her (not moving at all).

Thanks for any help you could provide.........  


OH Evan,
I am so sorry for your loss! How devastating this can be. I can only give suggestions as to what might have happened, but you could take her in to the vets and have a necropsy done on her to find the cause of death.

Since I do not know of your types of snakes over there I can't really say if it was a snake bite, but it certainly is a possibility of course.

Most deaths of this nature are cardiac in origin, or the dog has an aneurysm or blood clot, to the lungs or in the brain, just like a human does. If she had heartworms and you didn't know she could have died from the worms exiting the heart suddenly and that will cause a massive coronary episode, or heart attack.

She could have been hit by a car and had a vessel rupture deep in her chest. That can happen by being hit hard on the side.  

It sounds more likely that she had some sort of sudden death like a coronary or embolism.
No matter what the cause I know that this is very, very hard for you both.

Please accept my deepest condolences and prayers for your peace. She didn't suffer but you are left with the pain and suffering of her loss.

If you are unable to live with not knowing for sure, I suggest you get her into the vets right away and have them do the necropsy (like an autopsy).

Again, my deepest sympathies 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!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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