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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 505
Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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We just found our dog under the patio today and have been looking

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We just found our dog under the patio today and have been looking for him for days and days. We looked under there many of times and couldn't find him. Called his name and were always looking and the other three dogs never went by there at all. He never made a peep and I would like to know why or how that is even possible. We did a autopsy today and there's was no obvious signs of fowl play so we sent the organs to be checked . I just don't know how he couldn't have barked or whimpered and I just need to know if I could have done something or was there something I missed. Please help me
Hi, Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm a licensed veterinarian and I'll be happy to help.

I'm so sorry for your loss. I know how heartbreaking it is because I have been in a similar situation.

We will never know when Tilly may have gone under the patio. Since you looked there previously, it is unlikely he was there the whole time. That leaves the possibility that he was dying and crawled under there after you looked or a person put him there after he was dead. It seems odd someone would do that, but stranger things have happened.

I know you feel helpless or that there was something you could have done differently, but in reality, it is very likely there is nothing you did or could have done to make a difference.

The most likely scenario, in my experience, is that Tilly got into some trouble, likely a toxin and came home to die - I'm sorry to be so blunt. Since he was only 2.5 years old and you found no signs of foul play/trauma a toxin is most likely.

If he died fro trauma, you would see that on the autopsy. If he died from an infectious problem, you would have seen signs before he left home. A different medical problem, like heart or kidney disease, is very unlikely given his age.

Pets are known to come home when they are sick but if they are dying they tend to isolate themselves, like under the patio.

He may have been too weak to whimper or bark which means he probably died shortly after he crawled under the patio.

As to why the other dogs didn't alert to his presence, it is possible his scent was altered due to a toxin.

The results of the autopsy usually give us a good indication as to the cause of death and I hope those results bring you some closure.

So, no, based on the information you provided, I don't see how you could have done anything differently to help Tilly.

Sometimes it helps to talk to someone, click here for a link to a pet loss support site.

If you have other, more specific questions, or need to talk, please let me know. I"m happy to answer questions even after the autopsy results have returned.

With sympathy,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Could he have been under there for days dying from the toxin. He was heathly and weighed 12 pounds. He was hyper when we left and gone when we came back. There is no way he could have gotten in and out of the yard as far as we could tell. Or is there some other disease that we wouldn't have been able to detect. I guess I am just wondering that if I was out there all the time looking for him could be have been alive and could I if I found him helped him? He was a rescue dog that I got from a junky and maybe .....
It's the "maybe...." that bothers me. Especially if a junky may be involved.

Based on what you've told be and already done (autopsy, etc) you have already gone above and beyond what a lot of people would have done. This tells me you would have noticed if Tilly was suffering from some disease before he disappeared. Dogs do like to hide some signs of illness but if it was a fatal disease, you would have noticed.

Only you know if he could have been under the patio and be able to be hidden when you looked under there all those times, since you know what the patio is like. If he could have been hidden in a small space that you didn't look in, than yes, sadly, he could have been under there the whole time - but that seems unlikely since he was out in the open (under the patio) when you found him.

The fact that it is unlikely he could have gotten in or out of the yard as far as you can tell makes me worry more about a human's intervention - in a bad way.

There are some diseases that come on suddenly - like a stroke or a blood clot in the brain or lung. These can cause sudden death. It would be very unlikely in such a young dog. And if that was the case, why wasn't he visible all the other times you looked under the patio? It just doesn't add up.

So, yes, it is possible he was under the patio the whole time, but it just doesn't make sense. So the probability is that he wasn't there the whole time. In that case, there is nothing you could have done to help Tilly.

Again, it's the "maybe..." you mentioned that bothers me. I'm sorry.
Dr B
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The patio has lattesse all around it and I was told he dug a hole under there 3 months ago and goes down there all the time. Didn't know that at all. As for the addict he hasn't been around forever. I am just not understanding as we have access to under the patio and that is how we got under there to see. I just want to know the possibity of if he had something toxic which I can't see happening as we have 4 dogs and the rest are ok and I don't know his back ground for the first year if there is something that I wouldn't have known about. And if he did have something toxic would it have been something that would have kept him barely living for that whole time? Or how many days or???
I'm sorry you're going through this but we will never know for sure unless the autopsy results come back with an answer.

Because you don't know what his early life was like, it is possible he had something congenital or something wrong that was causing organ damage. If so the autopsy results of the organ analysis will tell you that.

There are many toxins that can take days to kill a dog. It is not so unusual for 1 out of a whole family of dogs to get into something and have ill effects. Are the other dogs much bigger than Tilly? If so, than they may have also ingested a toxin but not gotten ill because they did not eat a lethal dose. Again, the organ analysis will tell you about toxins.

So yes, there are diseases but you most likely would have seen signs before he disappeared.

I don't understand how or when he ended up under the patio if you checked there many times as you said in your original message. If there are hiding places under the patio than he could have been there the whole time. If it is just a big open space under the patio with the lattice around the edges than how could he have been there the whole time?

I'm sorry I don't understand your question and don't feel like I'm helping you. I'm going to opt out so another expert can help you.

All the best,
Dr B


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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I would like to talk to someone if that is ok as i still am looking for answers.

Hi there,
I'm so sorry to hear about your dog, and that you're still looking for some closure. How tragic to lose such a young dog so suddenly!

In my experience, deliberate foul play is very rare when dogs pass away suddenly, even when they are young. I'm inclined to believe that you would have heard him if he was lying under your patio for any length of time before he passed. The limitation of an autopsy is that if your dog passed away a day or more before he was found, there can be changes in the tissues that can mask finding evidence of trauma. Seizure disorders and hypoglycemia (sudden crashes in blood sugar) are common in papillons, as well, and the most common time to see seizures start is between 3 and 6 years of age. It's possible that he had a sudden trauma or seizure, went under the patio to find a cool place to hide, and passed away quickly.

In any case, I don't think you should blame yourself, and I don't think that there is anything you could have done. It's possible that if he had been in the yard, you might have witnessed what happened and got a little more closure knowing exactly what occurred. If the tox screen comes back negative, I think you can pretty much rule out foul play.

Ultimately, in a lot of cases like yours, we often don't get clear answers about what happened even though we try our best. You clearly care deeply about this dog, and I'm sure he was aware of that in the way you cared for him every day. I'm so sorry that this happened to you, and I hope the toxicology results are able to give you a little more closure.

I hope this is helpful. If so, please rate me positively, and don't hesitate to let me know how else I can help.
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 505
Experience: Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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