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Sudden Dog Death

by Melinda
(Omaha, Nebraska)

Reader Comment/Question: MY ROTT SHEPHERD MIX WAS 11 YEARS OLD. WE WOKE UP AND FOUND HER DEAD ONE MORNING on 12-16-09. We thought she was in pretty good general health, but I am so hurt as I think that if I would have taken her to her yearly appt earlier, as I had done every year before, would he maybe have found something that could have prevented her dealth?


She never made it to her appointment this year for her vaccinations. I am so overwhelmed with grief and cannot forgive myself for thinking that I should have or could have done something to prevent her dealth?

Her only health issues were hip dysplasia that she took meds for pain and Chrones Disease, but that had not flared up in well over a year? She seemed happy and healthy up until her death and then the next morning I wake up and she is gone? She died in her sleep? My family is devastated by her unexpected passing.

Our vet said she most likely had a massive stroke, heart failure or a brain aneurysm. I don't understand. Wouldn't I have seen any signs, before she went to sleep and never woke up? I am shocked and overcome with grief, and I need to make sure there was nothing that I missed seeing or was there something I should have or could have done to prevent any one of things?

I am left with her distraught twin sister Holly, and Hannah's son, who are also saddened and depressed by her passing and who often walk around crying looking for her, which hurts my heart more as she was the Apha.

Hannah took care of and mothered many dogs over her 11 years who were in need. I always said Hannah never found a dog she didn't like or could not mother. She was 100 lbs, and her heart was as big as she was! I have never known a dog as loving, gentle, and giving as her and I probably never will again. Please help or refer me to things I can read to help may give me some answers to this unexpected loss.

Thank you for any help you can give me.

- Hannah's Mom

Editor Response to Sudden Dog Death

Dear Melinda;

We are very sorry and saddened to hear about your loss; surely it is a cause of grief for those left behind. Rest assured that in our opinion you did everything you could for Hannah, and given her love for you and others, I'm sure she knows it as well.

Older pets need more care and are more vulnerable to health issues. The guiding philosophy of the medical sciences is that mo one can ensure the continued life of any living being, no matter what measures were taken to improve their quality of life. We are sure that you have been taking very good care of your pet, and you should be at peace with the memory of the happy years you shared with her.

Senior pets always need extra care,including all of the health risks that come with getting older. Hannah's health issues i.e. Hip Dysplasia and Crohn’s disease are serious health problems. When treating Crohn’s disease, mostly fatty acids are administered, particularly N 3 fatty acids. I suspect, there might have been other problems developing with Hannah as well which are related to her weight and the accumulation of fats in the body.

Your veterinarian is correct that dogs with this condition are more at risk for sudden death due to possible heart failure, stroke or a brain aneurysm etc. Cardiovascular problems and the dilation of vital vascular supplies are some of the possible risks, can lead to unexpected death.

Anyhow, it is now time to take care of your other dogs who are also experiencing grief. As you mentioned, regular checkups are a very important part of their care since a common reaction to death in grieving pets are health issues that occur due to a lack of interest in activities and in lower food intake.

You should take very good care of them and try some of these tips to make them feel secure and help them get out of the dilemma they are experiencing due to Hannah’s loss.

Try and spend more time with your pets and arrange some playful activities for them. If you have children, you can have them play more with your dogs as well. Make sure that if your or any children approach those pets, that they will be safe, given the dog's state of mind right now.

An approach worth considering is to provide your dog's with a commercially available natural remedy that is prepared for grieving pets such as Grief & Pining Formula.

Also, this would be a good time to give your dogs extra supplements and multi-vitamins such as Pet-Tabs Supplement for Dogs, which will help them to maintain their health status during this period, since as mentioned, it is common for grieving pets to take less interest in regular foods.

Again, you did all that you could. Just sharing this story with our readers is another way Hannah and her story will continue to help others.

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