Sudden Death of Healthy Chihuahua

by Meghan
(Cape Coral FL USA)

Last week my family's healthy 5 yr old male neutered Chihuahua was found lying underneath the garbage can in our back yard. He was lethargic-weak and had pale gums. His mouth and paws were covered in a rope like drool. His respiratory rate was low and was bradycardic but there were no visible signs of trauma. We took him to an emergency room and within 25 minutes he passed.

His temperature was 94.2 when taken at the hospital. I could tell by looking at him he was in shock. Seems like nothing could be done. It was 9:30 in the evening and he was let out with the other small dogs as part of the regular routine. He was completely healthy.

Our Veterinarian recently detected a very slight murmur over the past winter. Now we are in shock..we aren't sure if it was a bite or poison or a what could have caused this sudden death?
It could be a specific defect....impossible to know for sure. But any ideas would be helpful.

Thank you.

Thoughts From Our Vet on Sudden Dog Death in Healthy Animal

Hello Meghan,

I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your dog, particularly under such traumatic conditions. I’m afraid that you are right, the only way to know with certainty what happened to him is to have had a necropsy (the animal equivalent of an autopsy) performed. I suspect that opportunity is no longer available.

There are not too many things that cause sudden death in what appears to be an otherwise healthy dog. Poisoning is one, but certainly not the only, possibility. Others include heart disease (especially those types that cause abnormal heart rhythms), blood clots, brain lesions (e.g., tumors), adrenal failure, internal bleeding (e.g., from a ruptured mass or aneurism), electrocution, and trauma.

My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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May 22, 2021
Sudden loss of precious wee chhihuahua
by: Anonymous

Just responding to the last comment that i received a notification for...the sudden loss of their precious wee chihuahua. My heart breaks for them as i had the same thing happen several years ago to my best wee cherished chihuahua girl. She was fine and seemingly healthy and i left the room for around ten minutes. Came back to find her unresponsive on the floor- rushed her to vet and she died several hours later- no reason. I was too traumatized and fearful of an autopsy incase somehow she had eaten something that poisoned her and would have felt to blame Though i have no idea what. It makes no sense. The vet suggested a heart attack. The sad thing was she was rehomed with me and i adored her, we were active together and she lost weight and was fit. I am so sorry for your loss. Especially when you can't understand why and the suddenness is just terrible.xox

May 21, 2021
My 5 yo chihuahua just died suddenly a few hours ago
by: Anonymous

I am beyond devastated she was like my child. She had thrown up a few times in the last week but we thought maybe her fairly new medication (carprofen) but she's been taking it for about a month with no issues. Today she was pretty much normal but I made an appointment with the vet anyways. And then a few hours ago she went completely limp and lethargic so we were going to take her to the emergency vet but 15 minutes later she was gone.

My heart is literally broken. I can't help but wonder if I should have taken her to the vet right when she threw up. I don't know. I will miss her so much.

Jun 11, 2018
My Chihuahua Dog Jose
by: Deborah Higdon

I had a chihuahua dog his name was Jose my dad took him to the vet and they gave him an injection. After that he had already passed away also I should have been there for him. I really do miss him alot right now. RIP Jose!!!!

Aug 14, 2017
Sudden Death also of Healthy Chihuahua
by: Stacie Monroe

My 6 year old Chihuahua also passed away suddenly 4 weeks ago. One day consuming alot of water with a little bit of a crusty nose. He was just put on temparin for allergies. He had been on that for about 4 weeks. I thought it was just his allergies. He couldn't control his urination because of all the water he was drinking. He ate fine that night. The next day he couldn't keep any water down or food he would was vomiting it up. I rushed him to the vet and he started having breathing issues and convulsions. He has never had those before. He passed away within an hour at the vet on July 14 2017. I'm so heartbroken. The vet said his liver had enlarged causing it him to have trouble breathing. I still do not know what caused this as I go outside with him every time he went outside. Now my puggle is getting what looks like burn marks with his hair falling out on spots that he rolls around on the grass. Nothing has ever been put on the grass in the enclosed area. The vet said it is probably allergies. I know he misses his buddy. But I can't help wondering if someone is doing something outside where they go to cause all of this. We have never had any problems like this before and no new weeds that I can see other than the usual ones. I'm at such a loss. I miss my little baby terribly. He was my little boy that loved his little shirts and sweaters. My puggle misses him too. We are both grieving. My heart goes out to you as well.

Mar 22, 2017
sudden death
by: Anonymous

So very sorry for your loss. our darling wee chihuahua girl died in similar circumstances too. one moment she was fine then i returned to the living room to find her collapsed virtually comatose and breathing noisily. She died several hours later and the vets couldn't explain why- her glucose was high and some heart enlargement but they still weren't sure. it was one of the most terrible terrible losses..iloved her like a wee child.

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