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Hi there and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed, internship-trained veterinarian with 10 years experience in general medicine and emergency and critical care medicine and I would be happy to assist you. Please be patient as there may be slight delays in responses as I research this.
I am so sorry this happened. How old was your dog? What breed? Any history of a heart murmur?
Did they say what happened when they cleaned the ears- did she struggle? Did she have trouble breathing? What was the sequence of events with her death- I assume that she did not just suddenly slump down dead... was she breathing hard?
Okay. I honestly can't think of anything they could have done to cause this. The suddenness of the death makes me think that she must have thrown a blood clot to the brain. Elevated red blood cell levels can cause blood clots to form, and then they can eject from the heart and lodge in the brain and cause sudden death. This is uncommon, but would be my best explanation of what happened. How awful. Your vet saying that he does not know what happened makes me trust him... it is hard for vets to admit that they are not sure what went on. I am so sorry for your loss.
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Do you know how high the red blood cell count was?
That's not possible... normal is 40%. Was it like 60%? 80%?
Okay. I can wait until then. It is much easier to advise on the situation when I have all the info. Also, was the blood drawn before or after death? Because that can affect the values.
My name is***** am a small animal veterinarian with over 5 years of experience in emergency medicine, shelter medicine and general practice.
I have read through your conversation with Ann. From what you have written in regards ***** ***** blood results it seems that the reticulocyte count was high and band cells were high. Band cells being high indicates active inflammation/infection somewhere in the body. A high reticulocyte count indicates that the bone marrow was producing more red blood cells than normal.
One thing that could have been happening was what is called polycythemia vera. This is a condition where the bone marrow produces too many red blood cells. It is overwhelming on the body and could cause a hypercoagulable state where a clot could be thrown to the brain or lungs and result in death.
To be honest, blood work alone is not likely to get you an answer to why your pet died during the procedure. It can help us speculate a bit but won't give us an actual answer. A post-mortem performed by a pathologist is really the best way to find an answer.
It is possible but very very unlikely. Heart attacks are technically caused by a lack of oxygen to heart muscle and generally the result of a clot. This is uncommon in dogs. They just don't get clogged arteries like we do. Excessive restraint can cause all kinds of issues but usually the animal has to be quite ill before hand to die from it. So instead of a heart attack we would be talking about things like heart failure. Heart failure is a failure of the heart to pump effectively. If the condition is severe enough it can cause an arrhythmia and that could cause sudden death.
I don't know your vet and I was not there at the time but in my experience excessive restraint causing death is not common. I have seen normal amounts of holding result in a very very ill animal to get sicker but we knew that was a possibility going into it. To go from perfectly healthy to dead, in my opinion, means there was something very serious going on internally that was not possible to find from a physical exam alone or it was a complete fluke of a situation. When it comes to fluke situation think of the high school basketball player that is in the prime of his life and dies on the court of a sudden cardiac issue or brain aneurysm.
I know how you feel. It's tough to lose a pet anytime, let alone a situation like this.
I think if you really want closure, a post-mortem is the only way to go. It's not a guaranteed answer because sometimes you just never get an answer. It's the same with people but it's worth a shot.
Yes. It is definitely not the norm. I have personally never seen it but I have had friends that have had it happen to them and it is always traumatic for everyone involved.
I am very sorry this happened to you. I think, ultimately it comes down to whether you trust your vet or not.