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NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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Do dogs have an instinct to dig a hole prior to dying A ...

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Do dogs have an instinct to dig a hole prior to dying? A friend, who lives in the country, found his dog, dead, in front of a hole that it had dug. The dog was lying in a pool of blood that exited either the ear or mouth. The man called the city which merely retrieved and disposed of the dog. He did not know if the dog (11 year old chocolate lab) died from natural causes or if an intruder had shot his dog. The dog had no other signs of injury and other than Texas heat and slow movement due to age, it had not seem in any way ill. I realize you cannot access what caused a dog to die in this manner. But, I am thinking it peculiar that the dog had dug this hole and died beside it. It had not done any digging in years.
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
If it was overheated it might have tried to dig down to a cooler layer of dirt.
He might also have been digging after something in the yard such as a mouse, mole, or insect.
When I have seen dogs that died with a trickle of blood from the mouth it often has had to do with a blood clot hitting the lungs causing death.
The activity of digging might have triggered movement of a blood clot that caused the dogs death.
I don't believe there is any behavioral norm of dogs digging holes before dying though many animals do hide when not feeling well.
Hope this helps you!
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: This was more than a trickle of blood. I viewed the dog myself and it was kinda gruesome. Although it could have been overheated. It had a very cool two story dog house with tree shading and ample water. The area had a plastic bathtub full of water and two free standing tubs. However, it is very hot in Texas and undeniably a warm day. The area it was digging was in an open area - no shade - and much hotter than its own dog house.

I think maybe someone did injure the animal although I guess we will never know.
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
Only way to know cause of death is with a necropsy (like a human autopsy) of the body and you can't do that now.
An aneurysm could do a lot of blood loss or a nasal tumor that let go.
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