My dog died Tuesday afternoon unexpectedly after seeming visibly normal all morning. He had been playing and chasing squirrels and two hours later I noticed a pile of vomit next to my bed where he had been hiding underneath and wouldn't come out. When I called for him he just stared blankly at me and I noticed his tongue was very dark and appeared twisted. I shrugged it off as nothing serious and came back a few hours later and noticed him face down and dead with a small pool of blood coming from his mouth. In the past week I have noticed that he has been drooling occasionally and one day it even seemed like he forgot who I was. He was 10 years old at the time of his death and never showed any other signs of health problems throughout his lifetime. He was a Carolina dog (American Dingo) and in the past two years I fed him a grain free high protein diet mixed with fruits and vegetables that seemed to give him a lot of energy and healthy coat. Any ideas of what this sounds like and what may have caused his death. Thank You
Type of Animal: Carolina Dog
Pet's Gender: Male
Pet's Age: 10
Name of Dog: Shockey
Hello. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. This sounds like something called pericardial effusion to me. This is where fluid builds up around the heart, typically due to a tumor or mass that ruptures. The heart sits in a fibrous sac called a pericardium. The fluid build up, or effusion, causes some stretching of the sac. The sac cannot stretch very far, so then the heart is compressed and blood flow to the body is compromised. This leads to rapid progression of signs and death fairly quickly. The vomiting is typically due to compression on a nerve (vagus nerve) that runs over the heart sac (pericardial sac). We'll see vomiting, lethargy, poor gum color (often muddy or blue) and then progression to death. The fluid was from the lungs as they'll go into a secondary heart failure and get fluid build up in the lungs. A necropsy (autopsy) would be needed to confirm, but I would bet that is what happened. There was not much you could do. Even when we tap the heart sac and get these guys home, the prognosis is poor and usually survival is only 1-3 months after the time of diagnosis. I hope this helps bring some closure, let me know if you have any other questions.
DVM, Emergency Veterinarian; BS (Physiology) Michigan State Univ