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Dogs/My dog died suddenly.


QUESTION: My dog Tank is 2 1/2 years old. He was half pit half lab medium sized at 35-40lbs. 100% completely healthy, happy, and energetic. He was completely normal with eating and every aspect of his life. Last night I let him outside when I walked to my car. I realized I left my car keys in my apartment and I went back to get them. And before I made it to leave my apartment I heard him coming up the steps. He was only out of sight for 5 mins max. He came in and sat down in my living room. I went to go close my apartment door and realized he had pucked. It was just partially digested dry dog food. There was nothing strange about it. So I cleaned it up and then I petted him and gave him a bowl of fresh water and he lied down. I sat down and I got up 15 minutes later saw the poop which was whole and normal but then I realized he was dead. He didn't even make a sound.
I live in an apartment complex in northeast ohio. What could have happened for him to die so suddenly without warning.

Hi Jessie,

I am so very sorry to hear about the sudden loss of your dog!

It's really impossible for anyone to give a definitive answer as what happened to your dog. All I can offer is guesswork. Your vet is the only one who could give you a answers based on facts by doing bloodwork, and/or an autopsy (called an necropsy).

I can tell you that problems with the cardiovascular system is the most common cause in cases where a young dog dies suddenly. Gastrointestinal disease is the second most common for the cause of sudden death.

I hope you are coping with your sudden loss. If you'd like to discuss your feeling with a trained person, there are toll-free help lines available for grieving pet owners:

Iams Pet Loss Support Center
Toll Free: 888-332-7738 (Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm)

Pet Loss Support Hotline hosted by the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Operational seven days a week, 6pm to 9pm (CST) from Sept-April; Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 6:00-9:00 pm (CST) from May-August. Call 888-478-7574  

University of Illinois Veterinary College. Student volunteers are at the phone to answer calls on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m. Central Time. Callers may leave a message any time, and calls will be returned at their next shift. 877-394-2273

Pet Loss Support Hotline at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine
Toll Free: 800- 565-1526

Thee are also pet loss chat rooms and forum on line, such as these:

My condolences to you,


[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank for taking your time to answer my question and responding so fast. I understand only a necropsy would have been the only way to guarantee an answer. I'm just a little confused about him dying of a medical issue even thow he pucked. But through what I have researched I haven't found any info about him pucking with a medical issue and dying so suddenly without him being sick for a few day which was not the case. Others have told me he must have eaten something but my research hasn't discovered anything that could kill him so quickly without him being sick for a few days. So my main question is do you think it was more from a medical issue or him eating something? And I'm definitely going to take advantage of the support references you provided. Thank you again.


Hello again,

As I said before nobody other than your vet can say why your dog died.

The info I provided in my earlier message regarding the number one cause of sudden death in a young dog, was from a study by Purdue University Animal Diagnostics Laboratory entitled "Diagnostic Profiles: Sudden Death in Dogs" by Dr. Bill Wigle, ADDL Pathologist (from January 1, 2007 through May 31, 2012). Over this period, a total of 1346 canine necropsy examinations were performed. None of these dogs had a clinical history of ongoing disease at the time of death. In this study they found that although poisoning is often suspected in cases of “sudden death”, only 6 cases in the study had chemical evidence supporting exposure to toxins.

Of course it's possible that your dog had eaten something and was poisoned. Symptoms of positioning may vary depending on what your dog consumed, but chances are pretty good that there would have been some symptoms along the lines of:


And if your dog had internal bleeding, the would have been symptoms along the lines of:

Coughing of blood
Vomiting blood
Pale gums
A racing heart rate
Weakness or lethargy

Based on the the study that I just mentioned, statistically speaking, your dog may have died from an undiagnosed heart condition. I don't know when your dog died, but in the days and weeks prior to his death there may have been very subtitle and nonspecific symptoms (such as coughing or a lack of appetite) that were easily overlooked simply because he was so young.

I hope you can find comfort in your memories and not blame yourself for what happened, and that one day you'll be able to open your heart and home to another dog. There'll never be another Tank, he can't be replaced, but when the time is right for you, another dog can love you and bring joy into your life.

Please accept my sympathies, to you and your whole family.


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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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