Saturday, June 23, 2012

One Reason Young Dogs Die Suddenly

Dear Readers,

Many of you are writing and asking about my dog Jake who died recently.

I didn't write a single article about losing Jake, instead I wrote about losing him in a RANDOM SHOTS blog. Like a few other things that I've wrote on here, it was more for me than for you my readers.

I can't tell you how much losing him meant to me. I was in absolute shock for days, and honestly I really think I still may be in a sort state of disbelief that it actually took place.

Maybe it was because it was too simple, too sudden, too easy, too oh well Jake's dead. I can't tell you how much it means to me that my readers are writing and asking why, what happened, and what have I found out?

Like you, I can really only guess. My wife and I don't have a lot of money. We live on my retirement. Contrary to what some might think, this blog does not bring in a dime yet.

I run advertisements for things that I like or admire, like say the Wounded Warriors Program or the different Cattle Breeds or the American Quarter Horse Association, but they are paying a dime for those ads. It's just my choice to put them on here for free.

Bottom line, we don't have a lot of money to be spending on things we simply can't afford - a trait that I would wish our state and federal government officials would learn - so subsequently, I didn't want to spend money on a Vet to come out here on a ranch visit or take Jake in for an autopsy called a necropsy to find out why he died.

It is about the worst thing that can happen to any dog owner. And honestly, I would not wish it on anyone!

When I came home and was told that Jake was dead, especially when he was source an athlete, completely healthy dog, is something I never thought would happen.

After seeing him, I immediately went out to start digging him a grave. The whole time, I was in complete shock. And yes, I have seen men die and not shed a tear - but I cried like a baby that day.

What could have done it? A heart attack? A stroke? He was so young, only a little over 4 years old, how could this happen?

Since then, like I said before, I've gotten a lot of e-mail from you my readers suggesting all sorts of things from choking to snake bites to just exhaustion, and more.

Since then, I've talked to many people about it. I've asked a number of folks who I know know animals - and they can only wonder as much as I do. And yes, I've talked to my Vet about it.

Some of you have sent me articles on dogs dying suddenly, and all I can only say is thank you for your concern. Your concern has meant a lot to me.

I did get a few articles relating to "stomach torsion" that comes about from "bloat". This wasn't the first time that I heard of torsion in dogs. Years ago, an old friend who was a professional dog trainer told me about torsion. I didn't really understand it. I really didn't know how bad it could be.


Since Jake's death, I've read a lot about it lately. Come to find out, this is a serious issue in the dog world. So serious that its the second leading cause of death for large dogs. And yes, Jake was a large dog at over 70 pounds.

In one article send to me, it talked about torsion as a result of "bloat" being basically a condition where a lot of gas or fluid gets trapped in the dogs stomach. This really isn't all that different from what might happen to you and I when we drank too much on a full stomach.

But in dogs, especially large dogs in particular, this is a serious problem. The reason is that their stomach isn't as well set in the body cavity as ours is. Up until reading that article, I really didn't know that a dogs stomach is kind of just hanging loose - and when it becomes over-engorged with fluid or gas -  it can twist around.

It's called torsion

For you horse type folks who are reading this right now, yes, this is very similar to the kind of torsion that takes place in severe cases of colic when various parts of the horse's gastrointestinal tract twist. And as you already know, when colic goes from a slight case of colic to the twisting of either the horse's small intestine or part of the colon - then the result is blockage of the blood supply. That means that it is a painful condition causing rapid deterioration and requiring emergency surgery if you can afford it. Either way, it is a real medical emergency.

When torsion occurs in dogs, like in horses, the result is a medical emergency. The blood supply to many vital organs gets cut off when this happens, and the dog goes into shock.

Death will result if surgery is not performed. A symptom that this is happening is that the dog will be throwing up clear liquid or attempting to throw up. Next to Jake, there was evidence that he had thrown up just before dying.

According to the article sent to me, "one tragic aspect of this condition is that onset can happen rapidly, and so you may become aware of it when its too late."

Since becoming educated on this issue could mean the difference between death and several extra years of life for your dog, and since we can't be with our dogs 24 hours a day 7 days a week, there are a few things that we can do to reduce the risk of it happening?  .

It appears that almost everything we have to do to help our dogs has to do with how we feed our dogs. Here are a few things we can do:

•Break up your dogs feedings. The less food a dog takes in when it eats the lower the risk. A dog that eats just once a day has a higher risk than a dog that has its meals split into two or three portions a day.

•Watch out for dry food. Dogs that eat all dry food have a higher risk. Consider feeding canned food, or mixing dry and canned together. When you do this substitute a can of moist dog food for a cup of dry food. This helps because dry food tends to expand when liquefied in the stomach adding stress to the stomach.

Many years ago, that friend who was a professional dog trainer and had her own kennel. She used to feed all of the dogs in her care wet food. She would fill their feed pans with dry food and add water. She would then allow the dry food to soak up the water before feeding them.

•Feed using raised bowls. There is a bit of controversy about this one, but feeding using raised bowls may help reduce the risk. This is because some dogs gulp down air when they eat, and its believed by some that bowls raised off the floor cut down on the amount of air gulped in. This in turn cuts the risk of bloat happening. Raised pet bowls are available for sale on the Internet.

In Jake's case, my wife had him set up with raised bowls but he was a slow eater.

•Watch out for diarrhea. If a dog has chronic diarrhea, it may increase the risk. Make sure to get diarrhea treated.

•Never exercise right after feeding. Let the dogs stomach "settle" for an hour or two before going out for exercise.

•Avoid feeding immediately after exercise. After a long walk, a dog probably wants to drink lots of water. Doing that and then eating can be a fatal recipe.

I don't know if this is why Jake died. I can only wonder. But before he died, I had no idea what a serious problem torsion is in dogs, especially big dogs.

I was shocked to learn that this more often happens to dogs in their prime. And yes, Jake was in his prime. He was only a little over 4 years old.

Although dogs of any age can get it, I found out that most victims of torsion are aged between 4 and 7 years of age. I also found out that males have a higher risk than female dogs do.

All in all, again I want to say that I don't know why my boy Jake died. It could have been an aneurysm. I know that dog have aneurysms, just like people do. And yes, It could have been a stroke, or it could have been a heart attack. I do know he wasn't snake bit - because I've seen snake bit dogs before and he had no sign of being bit.

Last year, I lost my horse Murphy when he twisted his guts because he had coliced. I don't know if I lost my dog for the same reason. And yes, like you, I know real well that we can't prevent every bad event from happening to our animals - but after reading a little, I really believe that we can at least take a few small responsible steps to help them beat the risk of torsion.

Besides, I really believe that most of the readers of this blog are good folks who like me will feel a little better knowing that we did the right thing to our animals.

And by the way, thanks again for the emails.

Tom Correa

14 comments:

  1. Sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing your story and information

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I just lost my 5yr old Black Lab unexpectadly 3wks ago. I know how you feel, I am devastated. My baby died while I was holding her in my arms. I have also done alot of reasearch and am pretty certain my dog died from a cardiac condition. She acted strange an hr before her passing but other than that she was a very healthy active dog. It is so hard loosing a pet. I felt like someone ripped a piece of my heart out that day. I hope yourselves are able to give another dog a great home like you did your dear Jake. God Bless you!

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  3. I just lost my dog about an hour ago and have been trying to figure out why. I think he was about 7 years old and I rescued him almost 5 years ago. It really hurts not knowing why or what happened to him. Thank you for sharing. There are a lot of animal lovers out there. Its going to be a rough day... take care - joe

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  4. My dog, an 8 year old retriever passed away suddenly yesterday. She has never been ill or had any problems, she was a pedegree dog and all was normal the day before, in the evening she ate her food and went into the garden, I left her to sleep at 10pm and my son got.in at 1am and saw her sleeping but looked up at him as ever to see if he had anything for her to eat. The next morning at 6.30 I went into the kitchen to find poo, wee and sick on the floor and she was laying on the back doormat in a sleeping position, but she wasn't asleep she had passed away. Me and my sons are absolutely shocked this has happened, she was one of the family and was such a good girl always willing to please and very obedient and wouldn't harm a fly! I've read loads on the internet and it all seems to point to a heart attack. I know all about that as I Sat by my dads bedside at 18 whilst he had a sudden fatal heart attack. Life is cruel at times and takes from us the ones we love. Me and my sons have made the decision to have our dog cremated with her favourite toy and her ashes put in an urn, we are lucky in the UK as by reading blogs from the USA it looks very expensive to do there ...that's if you can call it lucky... Thank you for reading this blog written through tears, gone but not forgotten x x

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  5. I lost my cute lovely shihtzu two days ago. I came home from working but she didn't greet me as usual. I believed something bad had happened. I found her lying dead on the floor in her usual sleeping position. I still can't accept that she's gone. I still remember how happy she was when I hugged her before I left in the morning. I can't hold my tears back everytime she came across to my mind. She had been a part of my life.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

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  6. I lost my boxer pup Lola this morning. She was throwing up last night and my husband found her this morning. Our hearts are completely broken. She was healthy, playful.Just the sweetest dog anyone could ask for. It just seems so unfair.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your story. So sorry for your loss . I lost my 9 1/2 Pomeranian to sudden death. She was found in her usual sleeping position as well. I am devastated . She was my world. Life is unfair.

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  8. Im so sorry to hear about everyones loss. We just lost Layla our 3 yr old female Lab. She passed two and a half hours ago.

    Like most I found this site trying to find answers. It happen so fast. She was completely normal last night, very playful and full of life. She slept in our room last night and at 5 am she woke up then threw up. I woke up when I heard her and walked with her to get her some water. She then laid down and about an hour later she started to whimper so I went to check on her. The wife and I decided to take her to the emergency Vet. I got dressed and called the Vet. When I went to pick her up she was breathing, she stopped breathing on the way to the truck. I attempted CPR for a couple minutes with no luck.

    Its tough to lose a family member so suddenly and when theyre so young. I cant stop playing the scenario in my head trying to figure out if I would of done something different she would still be here.

    I think that the bloat thing might of been her cause of death, the vet tech guessed that also. We are going to cremate her to keep her with us.

    The best of luck to you all and let us not forget our wonderful furry family members that have gone to a better place. Let us remember the good times and be thankful to have shared those moments with them.

    God bless.

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  9. I wanted to update my above post to not only shed some light but also help others with our findings.

    We decided to get a necropsy done on Layla. The Doctor's findings came out to be Hemangiosarcoma cancer. Layla had it in the inside of her skin also on every major organ.

    This is a scary agressive type of cancer in dogs which normally is not found until after death. We had her comprehensive exam done this prior tuesday and all her blood work and red blood cells were normal. This cancer can lay in dorment and when the tumor ruptures can cause fatal internal bleeding.

    Layla bled internally into her lungs which is why she passed so quickly. I hope to be able to send her organs and blood sample to a labratory that studies Hemangiosarcoma cancer to try and find a cure.

    This is the first I have heard of this tyoe of cancer in dogs. Please if you have time read on this type of cancer and share. We can all do our part in providing knowledge to others and hopefully save lives by knowledge.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and I wish everyone the best.

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  10. I just lost my dog Toby last night. Have no idea what happened to him, he was a big healthy dog. Only 4 years old

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  11. We lost our blue heeler, Ash, yesterday. She was 7 yrs old. It was sudden and unexpected. We are about to pick up her ashes. It's still surreal. She was energetic and happy yesterday morning and then we gave her a raw hide that she was excited about. She then threw it up and pooped on the tile. She threw up one more time maybe an hour later. About 2 hrs later when she seemed to be done vomiting, we left for a few hours and put her with her bed in her normal spot. When we returned she had passed. There was no blood, vomit or any for of liquid around her. She had those same rawhides for years. We just don't understand what happened. She has eaten dry food all her life. So has our mini schnauzer. This post has given us some insight however and we will be watching what we feed our mini closely. She was just so young, gentle, and loving. Gone too soon.

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  12. I appreciate everyone's posting here. 2 days ago we lost the love of our life at age 9 (9 to 10 yo as he was a rescue and we are guessing). We had him for 8 years and were blessed to have that time with him. We are struggling with the death so much as similar to others above, he was perfectly healthy and even had recent blood work showing everything normal. He woke up at 4:30 a.m. and vomited after which we picked it up, brought a bowl of water into the bedroom so he could drink and then he was 'mopey' all morning. 12:30 pm I found him dead on the floor in an area that he loved to lay in. I work from home and didn't hear a thing -- not a whimper or cry. I was shocked. We are trying to determine if a necropsy will help ease our minds or if we let his body rest and make an assumption it was heart, aneurism, or something of the sort. He always ate premium food/treats and was well taken care of. He was a German Shepard/Pit mix and was the light of our lives. We all want more time.... and we all want answers..... I am struggling in my grief to know if the answers will ease my mind. I do appreciate the post above about the necropsy results. Makes me think that having an answer may help the grieving process.

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  13. My dog is a heathy male and he 7 years old , he just suddenly passed away today . My family is so sad, specially my kids ..... Rest in peace Lucky !!!! We miss you a lot .!!!

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  14. We lost our dachshund Honey a couple of hours ago. She was six years old, and seemingly very healthy. SHE vomited twice around four o'clock then just wanted to sleep. MY son got up at midnight to go to the bathroom, and found her in her normal spot dead. We haven't stopped crying, it's do hard to understand how this could happen.

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Thank you for your comment.
Tom