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What Causes Sudden Death in Dogs?

Published by Nanni on Saturday, June 30, 2012

Photo credit by Ivan JRG

Pet owners are always exchanging stories of the death of their pet dogs and the trauma that it has left behind. My son, even though he was in his thirties, broke down completely when our pet dog died of old age diseases. He had been very much a part of the family for over 13 years. Now we have a pet in the house again, and are dreading the day when he will die. He is already 10 years old, suffers from cataracts and has completely slowed down over the past year or so. He does make an effort to play with us, but obviously his days of activity are over and death is not too far away.

Dogs can die suddenly. They can be bright and bushy one moment and gone the next, according to animal doctors. They relate stories of dogs that die when they are on a morning walk. My wish is that my dog goes away quietly in his sleep. No doubt it would again make a big dent in our lives, but it would be better than suffering as our previous dog did.

Sudden death in dogs is due to a heart disease. They call it cardiomyopathy, and it is a disease that affects the heart muscle. It does not in any way affect the heart or its valves. This can also be a result of the dog being exposed to certain toxins and infections that affect the heart. The heart muscle can suffer from thickening, which in turn reduces the size of the chambers of the dog’s heart, thus putting a strain on the circulatory system. Death can also be caused by a dilation of the heart, leading to congestive heart failure. This sort of dilation can occur in dogs between the ages of 4 and 10, with male dogs being affected earlier.

The narrowing of the channel carrying blood from the aorta to the left ventricle can cause Aortic Stenosis, which can also cause dogs to die suddenly. This is generally due to inherited genes and the disease itself may never show up in a clinical diagnosis.

Heartworm infections can also cause sudden death. The heartworm is a parasitic worm that is spread through mosquito bites. This heartworm resides in the right ventricle of a dog’s heart. It can live there for many years before its infection causes the heart to stop.

Small breed dogs can suffer from mitral valve regurgitation. This causes a malfunction in the heart valves that are on the left side of the heart. This causes a leak which makes the heart less efficient and unable to pump the required quantity of blood to the dog’s body. This can cause sudden death of the dog, especially after it has passed the age of seven. This has been a major cause of sudden death in dogs of the smaller breeds like Pekingese.

There are dogs that are born with irregular heartbeats which can even have hearts that race wildly, without any reason or stress. Some dogs do outgrow this problem, but the ones that do not, could die suddenly. It is suggested that omega 3 fatty acids could help to correct this problem. So doses of fish oil may help your dog.

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