View Full Version : Answers sought in puppy death
07-14-2010, 11:53 PM
Sorry for the lame thread title, and I apologize in advance if this post rambles a bit, but I'm still a little in shock that this happened so suddenly. One of my coworkers fell ill recently and wasn't going to be able to take care of his 8-week-old boxer puppy for a few days, so I volunteered to take her till he recovered and picked her up yesterday afternoon. Tonight after we got back from dinner, my wife took the puppy and our 5-year-old dachshund out to potty while BomTek, Jr. and I started Skype-ing with my mom. About 5 minutes after my wife came back inside with the dogs, we were sitting on the couch talking to Mom when we realized that the puppy was in the kitchen doing Og-knows-what. My wife went to bring her back into our eyesight, but when she got into the kitchen the puppy was laying on her side gasping for air. My wife immediately summoned me, and within 2 minutes I was out the door on the way to an emergency veterinary clinic in town. I suspected that she had tried to swallow a piece of grown-up dog food without being able to chew it, and it had gotten stuck and was mostly blocking her airway, but she barely breathed at all on the way to the clinic. I performed a few finger sweeps of her throat but didn't come up with anything. By the time I got to the clinic, she was dead. The vet had to run to surgery and didn't have much time for me, but he did have time to tell me that her airway was clear and that there was a little bit of blood in her stomach. He didn't say what killed her, but I got the impression that the amount of blood in her stomach was not worrisome to him.
If there are any veterinary-minded Dopers out there, I'd appreciate a little insight. What kinds of diseases/conditions can cause an 8-week-old puppy to die so suddenly? My wife reported that she was bouncy and playful while they were outside, and she hadn't shown any signs of malaise while she was here. The only thing that was even slightly out of the ordinary (and the thing I'm kicking myself for tonight) was that she vomited a few times last night before bed. I thought it was just a puppy thing: she had been bouncing around immediately before she threw up each time, so I figured she'd just shaken herself up a little too much. Should I have taken her to the clinic last night? My buddy apparently has some kind of viral infection and fell violently ill very quickly... could he have transmitted whatever he has to his puppy before I picked her up? I'm not really looking to exculpate myself here, since I think we did everything we could reasonably be expected to do (I got pulled over for speeding trying to get her to the clinic as quickly as I could), but I don't think my buddy's going to pay for an autopsy for her, and I'm just trying to figure out how this happened. Should I be worried about my dog (who seems perfectly healthy since we got back from the clinic) or 11-month-old BomTek, Jr. catching something? The puppy pooped on our hardwood floor a couple times while she was here, and we sanitized everything within 5 feet of those spots, but our son's going to be crawling on those floors.
Any wisdom would be most welcome. If you think you might have an idea but need more info from me about what happened before or during this incident, let me know and I'll fill in the blanks for you.
07-15-2010, 01:35 AM
My buddy apparently has some kind of viral infection and fell violently ill very quickly... could he have transmitted whatever he has to his puppy before I picked her up? Almost certainly not. There are only a handful of diseases that transfer between humans and dogs, so unless your buddy contracted rabies...
07-15-2010, 02:43 AM
Do you or your neighbors put out any snail bait in the yards? That will kill a puppy pretty quickly.
07-15-2010, 03:29 AM
Yep, slug killer is pretty deadly even for adult dogs let alone an eight-week old puppy.
However - I'm kinda curious, how long has your friend had the dog? I was pretty sure that eight weeks is about the absolute earliest a breeder would let someone take a puppy home - since most breeders won't let the puppy go until it has had its initial vaccinations, which are normally at 8 weeks or so. Do you know if the puppy had its vaccinations?
An eight-week old puppy that hasn't been vaccinated and was around other dogs could be dangerous (although I don't know if it would be so sudden).
07-15-2010, 08:31 AM
Do you or your neighbors put out any snail bait in the yards? That will kill a puppy pretty quickly.
No snail or slug bait.
I'm kinda curious, how long has your friend had the dog? I was pretty sure that eight weeks is about the absolute earliest a breeder would let someone take a puppy home - since most breeders won't let the puppy go until it has had its initial vaccinations, which are normally at 8 weeks or so. Do you know if the puppy had its vaccinations?
He'd only had her about a week. She may have been nine weeks old, but the first time he brought her into the shop he said she had just stopped her mother's milk the day before, when he picked her up. He said she had been given all her shots, and although I have no way of knowing if that is actually true, we're a trustworthy bunch of guys with Top Secret security clearances. Make of that what you will.
07-15-2010, 09:18 AM
First of all, I'm really sorry you had to go through this.
In addition to snail bait, what about rat or mouse bait? Antifreeze? I can't think of many things that would kill so quickly.
07-15-2010, 09:29 AM
Antifreeze, based on incredibly sad experience, does not kill that quickly. :(
Is it too late to ask the vet for a necroscopy?
My other guess is animals of all ages stroke out now and then. It happens, just like in people -- you can drop dead at age 12 of a brain hemmorrage. Similarly, a rare heart condition can cause the heart to stop. Unusual, shitty to experience, but possible.
07-15-2010, 09:37 AM
Any insects around? When our dog was a puppy several times he tried eating a spider or other bug which caused him to start gasping for air and salivating.
07-15-2010, 09:38 AM
What kind of flooring do you have in your kitchen? Wood floors that had just been cleaned with Pinesol or some other cleaner?
If the airway was clear and he had all his shots...I can't think of much that could cause seemingly instant death. Allergic reaction to an insect bite maybe?
While I don't think there's much of a risk to your baby, since you do have another dog in the house I personally would pay for the autopsy myself, just in case...
07-15-2010, 09:39 AM
In addition to the possibility of ingesting something dangerous-
There are a couple of genetic heart conditions that are common in boxers and could lead to sudden death. Do you know if your friend's breeder was a professional (rather than back yard breeder) that would test for genetic problems before breeding? Regardless, he should let the breeder know about this.
07-15-2010, 10:27 AM
Cardiac Parvovirus can kill a puppy rather quickly. I have seen it a couple of times, and it can be asymptomatic. Just to be safe, make sure your other dog and any dogs that have had contact with your puppy are up to date on vaccinations. This includes any animals that have had contact with the feces of the puppy.
07-15-2010, 10:51 AM
Anaphylaxis or choking would be my first guess. Then a congenital problem, like a heart problem or aneurysm. I really find it hard to believe any other illness or toxin could kill so quickly without symptoms.
How was the blood in the stomach determined if he didn't open up the puppy? Did it come up when they were working on him or post mortem? If something came out of his mouth/nose then it could have been from his respiratory tract.
07-15-2010, 03:24 PM
My maltese puppy was weened very early, about 5 weeks we think. He one day suddenly went into a seizure and it seemed like he could'nt breathe. I slowly breathed in his mouth for him. We got him to the vet and he said, what happens is puppies weened too early get low blood sugar. Obviously this is extremely dangerous. We were able to save him because the vet is so close to our home. The following days he was in what they call a "post ictal" period.
It includes temporary blindness among other things. He whined for four days straight, which is a long post ictal period. Anyway my point being, It seemd as though he couldnt breathe so maybe yours had something to do with low blood sugars.
07-15-2010, 06:21 PM
Fatal anaphylaxis tends to have pretty significant airway constriction--that's usually what actually kills you. But I suppose something can be constricted and still be clear, so it could have been an allergic reaction.
Most of the things I can think of that would have been going on 24 hours before death and cause vomiting would have other pretty significant symptoms, usually things like diarrhea and lethargy.
I would guess most likely she threw a clot in her heart or brain or lungs. They can do that after trauma, or for no reason at all.
One thing I kind of wonder about, though, is migratory hookworm larvae. Puppies that age commonly have hookworms, even if the breeder has given them a dose of dewormer, and hookworms can indeed cause vomiting and bleeding in the digestive tract. I've never heard of it happening before, but I suppose it's possible that migratory larvae in the lung could cause pulmonary embolism.
07-15-2010, 06:34 PM
A friend of mine went on vacation and left her young adult boxer with a kennel, and the boxer died suddenly of a heart attack. Her vet said that heart conditions are somewhat common in boxers and that it wasn't the first time that he had seen the stress of new situations kill one. Don't know if that's the case for the poor pup here.
07-15-2010, 07:12 PM
When the puppy vomited previously, how long after eating did it vomit? Did it vomit undigested food? Did it actually regurgitate as opposed to vomiting? Regurgitation is usually just "bleh!" and there's some food, vomiting is more "hork, hork, hork BLEEEEH!!!!" and there's food or some frothy or biley liquid, and a bit more gagging usually follows.
If it's regurgitated, megaesophagus due to Persistent Right Aortic Arch is a possibility. Usually it doesn't become a problem until a little later but if it's severe it can present earlier. Usually they don't drop dead like that but another problem with the megaesophagus is that they tend to aspirate food, which could cause choking.
There are a lot of other potential congenital problems as well as the other things mentioned that could kill a puppy. Unfortunately, it happens on occasion and sometimes we never find out what happened.
07-16-2010, 03:41 PM
Wow. Thanks for all the help... I didn't expect to get so much, honestly. After reading all the replies so far, I think it's very possible that she could have either eaten a bug of some kind or possibly gotten bitten herself, probably the former. It could have been a problem of low blood sugar, though, similar to what moldybread went through, based on the symptoms you describe.
BomDog went to the vet today for a checkup after what happened to the puppy, and he checked out just fine. The vet that I talked to today seemed to think that it was most likely parvo, which the puppy should have been vaccinated against, but again I have no way of knowing that for sure. She said it's rare for parvo to kill like that, but the spitting up of food (it was actually regurgitation, according to Wile E's post), the soft stools, and the blood in the stomach are all apparently consistent with parvo.
So I guess that kind of solves it in my mind. It was scary as hell, even for someone who's seen people blown up, but I'm glad my family will be okay.
07-17-2010, 07:09 AM
Cardiac Parvovirus can kill a puppy rather quickly. I have seen it a couple of times, and it can be asymptomatic.
Parvo, boxer, that's what I was thinking. I had a neighbor that had a few boxer pups go quick with parvo, real quick. 12-18 hours. The other neighbor had a parvo pup that did its business up against the fence, and didn't bother to warn anybody.
I lost a lab to parvo, nasty nasty virus. She was vaccinated, but its a series of them. She lasted a week. The lab pup at the vet next to her that had it 10x's worse made it, mine didn't.
You already said they think it was parvo. Don't let friends with pups even come to your house, they can bring it home on their shoes very easily. It can live in the ground for years.
You already lost one, don't be responsible for any more. Be very careful. Bleach everything.
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