My dog Spot, and what happened... Trying to understand.

Food, Fitness and how to keep them healthy.

Postby Jackuul » July 17th, 2009, 4:42 am

It's taken me a while to get up the nerve to think about that horrible night, but I honestly need some closure. I could not afford a necropsy (it was $97 to have him cremated and his ashes spread with other dogs at the cemetery - and would have been a ton more for a necropsy). I understand that there can never be a "That is what happened 100%!" answer, but I still just have to know the likely causes of his sudden passing.

He was 5 years old (Born Feb. 8 2004) and passed away at 2am on Saturday (the 11th). He was my little buddy and friend.

First a tiny bit of background info: He weighed 47 lbs (just a lb over his optimal weight - I kept him on a good diet and I always made sure he was at a good weight) and previously had medical issues relating only to his extra toes on the back legs that had to be removed, and that both of his knees (the cruciate ligaments) blew out before he was 4 (he was my expensive puppy).

He had a severe phobia of thunderstorms, and it never went away. He would shiver, pant, get red in the tongue and have occasional snorting fits when a storm went by.

He would also have these snorting fits when he was excited, ever since he was just a few months old. The Vets all said it was like "sneezing backwards".

Friday was just a usual day like any other. I woke up to him prancing at the end of my bed saying "It's pee time!" and taking him up the stairs to go outside. He came in, ate, and about an hour later - as was normal and pretty much routine - he passed a normal poo.

I left for three hours like I did every day, and when I got home storm clouds had gathered (this has been going on for three months in a row now in Denver - it's unusual to have so much rain and storms) and I let him out early so he would not have to go out in the storm. He hated them so much. Well, the storm in the distance played hard to get - as in it stayed in the distance, and Spot had eaten his dinner. He was still fine up to 5pm, we went out - he got the shakes from thunder but he peed fine - but as was normal did not have to do his poo dance yet.

We went back in and he hid under my feet like always. However, at around 7 things changed. He stopped shivering and acted like it was normal - but then he threw up. I figured, he was stressed out from the storm, and needed to go out since there was the smell of, well what can only be described as, dog farts. I carried him out because he was a bit lethargic on the stairs, he walked around, peed, pooped normally (I checked it) and he came back in. He laid down next to the stairs, and it was at this point in retrospect I should have taken him to the emergency vet - but I was convinced that he was just stressed out and had an upset stomach.

There were no further incidents of barfing - but he would not lay next to me. I'm actually feeling that dread feeling I had right before he passed while I write - it's dredging up the memories and the "what ifs". Anyways, I gave him some water and a tiny bit of food. He ate the food, drank the water and laid down. I noticed his skin was cool to the touch, so I put a blanket on him and got ready to take him to the vet the next day. At around 11pm he threw up water, and food, and more water. I comforted him, and kept an eye on him. He seemed tired but okay after that - but his breathing was a tiny bit harder, and I attributed this to him feeling sick.

By this point I had dread that he was ill with something like when he was boarded two years ago, and he had the same problems, minus the cool skin.

I went to bed and let him snuggle next to me, so that I could keep him warm, and I was hoping he would be a little better in the morning. Then the nightmare began. At about 1:30 he threw up in bed, all liquid and clear (I was not stupid, I had a towel ready and under him just in case he had any more problems - but I would be damned if he didn't sleep next to me so I could keep good tabs on my little booboo). I lifted him up to clean it - and when I set him down he didn't stand. He crashed head first and gave me a pitiful "help me!" look, unable to move.

Panic and dread hit me, and I was on the phone trying to find the nearest 24 hour vet. As I hung up I heard him hack, and when I came back into the room his tongue was lo lled out (you should have a :before and after the l o l acronym please), and his eyes glazed - but he was still breathing shallowly. I immediately scooped him into my arms - pretty much yelled on the way out, and had to drive a whole 19 miles to get to the nearest 24hr vet (thanks to the economy the closer one shut down). He was DOA. I spent probably the next hour just sobbing over him and wishing him back to life.

The lady was very understanding, but could not say what killed him. When we first got there I knew he was gone when I rushed him in - but I was still hoping he had a spark in him.

That was really really difficult to write out, and I hope it was at least coherent enough.

Basic onset was at 7pm, and by 2am he was gone. His temperature dropped, he was lethargic and gradually losing control of himself, and he was healthy not but two hours before 7. He began to vomit heavily, and in his vomit it was just his dog food. However when I got back home at 3am, I found more vomit in his crate (which he used only when scared) from what had to have been earlier in the day, and it had a lot of grass in it. This is all I know. At the end he was vomiting up clear liquid, there was never any blood, and all his BMs were totally normal - including his last one. There was also no visible bloating of the stomach (still tight and trim) and the only noticeable smell was after he passed (dog fart smell again).

When he died he went without even making a mess, no post-death urination or defecation, he just went so fast... I wish I would have taken him earlier, but I kept on thinking "he's just stressed from the ----ing storms".

This was a picture I capped of him 2 years ago after getting a camera to work. He was shy and was just waking up when I snapped it.

Image

This was the second to last picture (last one in my avatar) taken of my booboo bear in May

Image

Even though I know he is gone, it feels like a nightmare, something I want to wake up from.
http://jackuul.com/blog/goodnight-sweet ... 2004-2009/ My Spot.
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Postby hugapitbull » July 17th, 2009, 6:16 am

I have no answers, just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. That is a true horror story and reminds us all how suddenly things can change. Thank you for finding the courage to post.

RIP sweet Spot, run free at Rainbow Bridge.
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Postby iluvk9 » July 17th, 2009, 6:30 am

I am sorry... Your story has put tears in my eyes.

If I was in your situation and it was one of my dogs, I would be thinking the same things. I would be going over every detail and event. Should I have brought him to the Vet sooner? Did I miss a sign of something being wrong? Should I have done something different or even "better" for him?

My only attempt at helping you through this, is that you need time. Your focus will slowly change to the happy days you spend together, how you cared and nurtured him and how much he loved you and you loved him.

It is hard to wrap your brain around tragic, unexpected events. You WILL get through this, but again, time is what you need. Please continue to tell us about him. It may help with your grieving process. And maybe there will be a day when you tell us a funny story about something he did, or post more photos...and that will feel good.
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Postby Marinepits » July 17th, 2009, 9:26 am

I am so very sorry for your loss. What a horrible, tragic event. :cry:
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Postby kera09 » July 17th, 2009, 9:37 am

i am so sorry for your loss. its not your fault, so please dont think that. he has passed over the rainbow bridge and is running freely with all the other doggies, btw i hear there are no thunderstorms in doggie heaven! RIP spot
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Postby madremissy » July 17th, 2009, 9:43 am

I am so sorry for you loss. Hopefully you can find comfort knowing that he knew you loved him very much.
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Postby amazincc » July 17th, 2009, 11:30 am

Ugh... what a story... :sad2: :cry:

All I can say is that I probably wouldn't have suspected a serious illness/problem either, given that Spot had a history of anxiety during thunderstorms. :(

I am so very sorry for your loss. :hug3:
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Postby TinaMartin » July 17th, 2009, 12:02 pm

I'm sorry for your loss.
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Postby Alyssa » July 17th, 2009, 3:21 pm

Awww I am so sorry for your loss.

Offhand, it sounds like maybe he died from bloating ... had a lot of the symptoms anyway.

He was lucky to have an owner like you that loved him so much.
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Postby Jackuul » July 17th, 2009, 3:57 pm

Can bloat act so fast though? He never had any signs of expansion in his gut, and otherwise was pooing normally until that time :|
http://jackuul.com/blog/goodnight-sweet ... 2004-2009/ My Spot.
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Postby Malli » July 17th, 2009, 6:57 pm

bloat can kill a dog within an hour, or it can take much much longer. But I'd be surprised if he bloated because he continued to vomit substantial quantities, dogs who are bloated wretch and produce only small amounts of foam.

I'd be suspect of something more serious and internal, such as an abdominal bleed from an unseen disease process.

At any rate, given your description, and how quickly everything went downhill, I'm not sure there is much that could have been done :| Sometimes these things just happen. And from my perspective (I work at an Animal ER) I think this was just a horrible random chance.

RIP Spot, you are obviously sorely missed and fondly remembered.
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Postby Jackuul » July 18th, 2009, 1:16 am

Well, if there was an abdominal bleed would there be outward symptoms like expansion? He showed us no physical signs of illness except his lethargy, and his decline from being spunky dog to lethargic, to unresponsive but awake, and then the end.

Every time I go around the corners, or look down the stairs I expect to see his goofy face and wagging tail. I thank you all for your kind thoughts, and even though tonight is the one week mark from when it happened - I still feel so strange. You expect to see them, and then don't. If he had been ill, for a lengthy time, it would probably be more comforting as you would know what happened, and have helped him along to his final destination - but to go from here to gone is just such a shock.

It's like looking at a picture on a screen and having the power go out. You still see them there in the outline - but they're gone.
http://jackuul.com/blog/goodnight-sweet ... 2004-2009/ My Spot.
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Postby madremissy » July 18th, 2009, 1:18 am

:hug3:
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Postby Malli » July 18th, 2009, 1:20 am

In my understanding that its unlikely he would have looked bloated with a GI bleed.
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Postby Jackuul » July 18th, 2009, 1:30 am

Malli wrote:In my understanding that its unlikely he would have looked bloated with a GI bleed.

Would he have passed blood in his excrement - or thrown it up though? The lady at the Emergency Vet said she thought he may have had a heart defect, however I would have thought during his knee surgeries in the previous years that would have been picked up.
http://jackuul.com/blog/goodnight-sweet ... 2004-2009/ My Spot.
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Postby call2arms » July 18th, 2009, 12:37 pm

I'm sorry for your loss. :(

If there had been GI bleeding, there would likely have been blood in the stools. But internal bleeding from other causes (ex. in the abdomen, outside of the digestive system) would likely have caused a bloated effect. Bloat itself is usually very noticeable, especially in trim dogs.

No matter what the cause of death was, it seems like it came so quick, by the time the vets found out how to treat this, Spot might have been gone already, even if you had brought him in earlier. You did your best, and I'm sure he lived a good life with you, and that's the most important part.
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Postby Jackuul » July 18th, 2009, 1:17 pm

That's partly why I am so dumbstruck - there was no bloat effect, no blood anywhere. He was still trim and healthy looking even after death, and in his vomit there were no signs of anything except that he had eaten grass in addition to his food (Taste of the Wild, the one with the duck and fowl, I switched it up each bag going from Duck -> Fish -> Buffalo since he got excited and loved the change). When it comes to the symptoms before his passing, it is the lack of them that disturbs me the most.
http://jackuul.com/blog/goodnight-sweet ... 2004-2009/ My Spot.
http://arachnists.com my spider obsession.
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Postby Malli » July 18th, 2009, 2:04 pm

sorry I should have said with an abdominal bleed.

I have seen dogs with abdominal bleeds who, from my perspective, did not look bloated.
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Postby HappyPuppy » July 18th, 2009, 2:11 pm

I'm so sorry for you! :groupHug:
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Postby iluvk9 » July 18th, 2009, 3:24 pm

Jackuul wrote:It's like looking at a picture on a screen and having the power go out. You still see them there in the outline - but they're gone.


That is a great analogy.
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