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Dr. Loretta
Dr. Loretta, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 28307
Experience:  25 years of experience in large and small animal medicine.
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Hi there, My dog died very suddenly and unexpectedly Sunday

This answer was rated:

Hi there,

My dog died very suddenly and unexpectedly Sunday night and we are just trying to get some sort of idea as to what happened. Stanley was an almost 12 year old black lab/rotty mix. We live in Vermont and he was up to date on his vaccines. He was moderately active (he had hip problems), and was not over weight. Around 11:30pm Sunday night I put him out one last time and then we both went to upstairs and went to sleep. Around 2:30am we woke up to him throwing up a clear, spitty type throw up. We brought him downstairs and let him out again, and then went back to sleep. My husband left for work around 4am and said that he had thrown up a few more times, and that he looked like he wasn't feeling well. It was my intention to call a vet in the morning as we do not have any emergency vets near us. However, when I checked on him at 7:30am he was already gone. We just do not understand what could have happened. He was fine when we went to bed, he had acted fine all day, the clear spitty vomit was normal for him once in a while, and he's never been known to get into anything he doesn't belong in. Any theories as to what happened to him would be greatly appreciated.

Good Morning and welcome. I am Dr. Loretta, a licensed veterinarian and I am happy to answer your question.

I am so so sorry for what has happened to your precious Stanley...I know how hard this can be to come to terms with especially since you have cared for him and loved him all these years.

The most likely cause for this is a PTE or Pulmonary Thromboembolism. This is a clot that is thrown that blocks off part of the lung fields that radiates to the rest of his body causing death. As this starts, the process causes nausea and therefore, the vomiting which you would not think was serious. Stanley probably had an underlying heart disease that you were not aware of . Since we do not exercise older dogs as much, you would not notice any exercise intolerance and this clot cannot be predicted.

I know this is devastating but this is the most common cause of sudden death in a healthy older dog. There are other issues such as a cancer lesion that ruptured during the night and eroded into a vessel causing death. It may help to have your vet perform a Necropsy and then you will know for sure.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and your precious Stanley.

Does that make sense to you?

Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please Reply so I can clarify for you

Sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Loretta and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much for the quick response. I just had one other question, if we had been able to bring him to the vet and death was caused by the reason you listed, could death have been prevented?

That would be very unlikely, Jaime....once this process starts, the time it takes to diagnose this is too late for treatment. The clot has already been thrown to block these areas and, as apposed to human medicine, we do not have the capabilities to stop this clot or even find it quick enough...I am so sorry!!

These often occur in the night when the older dogs are sleeping since there is no outside stimuli....the only symptoms was this vomiting and this is not often a serious issue.

You could do nothing, Jamie to save your precious Stanley!

Thank you so much, Jaime for your kind rating. It is very much appreciated! Even though you have rated, we can still communicate. If you have other questions, please Reply. I am always happy to help. I know how hard this can be, Jaime, and it is very good for you to be asking questions to help you past this and relieve yourself of any guilt you may feel...this was not your fault, Jaime.....