Sudden death in dogs

Sudden death in dogs

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Sudden death in dogs

Sudden death is the natural death of a dog that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. For dogs of any breed, sudden death may be due to one or more of the following causes:

Cardiovascular disease

Diseases of the heart, lungs, or blood vessels. A sudden death can occur any time of the day or night, in any weather, and in any place. In fact, sudden death is the third most common cause of death in pet dogs, often occurring at night, and when people least expect it, with one in four pet dogs dying suddenly.

A sudden death usually occurs with a relatively minor cardiac problem, such as myocarditis or a heart attack, so that there is no obvious external injury or disease of the external organs, such as the skin or mouth.

A sudden death may also occur without any heart problems. An example is a dog with no apparent health problems that suddenly dies in a seizure. However, since it is not obvious that a dog will die from such seizures, these dogs often do not receive appropriate medical attention and can easily die from them.

In most cases, a sudden death does not occur suddenly or unexpectedly, it has been present for some time, but may suddenly worsen and become deadly. For example, a dog that develops a seizure for the first time in the morning, and has been going to the bathroom several times in the night, may have an epileptic seizure and die suddenly.

The underlying cause of most sudden deaths is unknown, but there is a common syndrome with some underlying predisposing cause, which often can be diagnosed. This syndrome is called cardiomyopathy, and it is the most common cause of sudden death in dogs. Although many sudden deaths are not directly related to cardiomyopathy, some of these may have a cardiomyopathy-like syndrome (for example, those that occur during a seizure or heartworm-associated heart attacks).


Sudden death may not be preventable, but the following precautions may be taken to reduce the risk of a dog dying unexpectedly:

Keep the dog well hydrated: dogs that have a tendency to become thirsty may be at increased risk of developing heatstroke, if they do not drink enough.

Keep the dog in a shady place if he or she is outdoors: during the summer the dog may be at increased risk of overheating.

Put the dog's bedding in the shade: this will reduce the risk of overheating.

Warm the dog up slowly: if the dog is already at risk of overheating, the heat may have been accumulated and it may be dangerous to move him suddenly from an unheated place to a heated place.

Do not overcrowd the dog: since the risk of sudden death increases with the number of animals in the home, the number of pets should be kept to a minimum.

Provide adequate shelter: dogs that have been outdoors may be at risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Avoid letting the dog get wet: as mentioned above, dogs that do not drink enough may be at increased risk of heatstroke, and heatstroke itself increases the risk of death from other causes.

Give the dog plenty of exercise: a dog that does not move around enough may be at increased risk of developing heatstroke or another heat-related disease.


Further reading

Cardiomyopathy: An Overview from Veterinary Pathology Textbook, by Susan M. Mankodi.


Category:Veterinary diseases and disorders

Category:Dog health



Category:RTTEM-associated disorders

Category:Syndromes affecting the heart

Category:Syndromes affecting the nervous system

Watch the video: Sudden Death Of Animals 2021 (May 2022).

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