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Why did my dog die?

Species: Dog
Breed: Labrador / German sh
Age: 11-15 years
Hi, My dog died recently. She was 11 yr.s 9 mo.s old, about 55-60 lbs., labrador/german shepherd mix.

She had diarrhea over the course of 2 nights (maybe about 8 episodes defecating in total). It stopped for about 12 hours during the day after the first night. Light brown color, no sign of blood. No vomitting. No other apparent symptoms. Still had appetite and willing to go out for walk.

After the second night I gave her a 2mg dose of imodium, and another dose about 1mg 8 hours later. I started feeding her rice with chicken and some water mixed in. She was drinking some wate. The diarrhea stopped and she made it through the night okay. She seemed a little lethagic, possibly from the imodium. Likely a bit constipate due to the imodium.

I had to leave her for a few hours (this was 24 hours after the first dose of imodium and more than 24 hours since her last diarrhea). She seemed okay at the time. When I came back she was dead.

She died laying on the sofa where she normally sleeps. Some white foam had come out of her mouth. Her tongue appeared a bit darker in color, but I am not sure how long she was dead. Not blue, maybe purplish.

She was thin and had been relatively healthy her whole life. No known serious problems from previous visits to the vet. She did sometimes make a choking sound when she would like on her back for stomach pets. It did not really occur otherwise.

I realize now I should have taken her to the vet and maybe the imodium was a mistake (although I have read that it should be okay). Any thoughts on what might have killed her? Dehydration (she was drinking some and had access to fresh water)? Complications from imodium? Heart gave out? Other organ failure? Seizure?

I know you won't be able to tell for sure, but any thoughts based on your experience might help give some closure.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Delilah passed away. It is never easy to lose a pet, but even harder when we don't know what happened.

It is very unlikely that the Imodium was the cause of her death. There are some dogs that are very sensitive to Imodium but these are usually Collie breeds. Otherwise, in order to have a toxic dose of imodium causing death your dog would have to be given more than 5 mg/kg. Each Imodium tablet is 2mg. So, for a 50lb dog (but probably Delilah was even more than this) she would have had to have been given more than 50 tablets to cause death.

I think the diarrhea was probably there because of whatever the health condition was that caused her to die.

Unfortunately it is almost impossible to say what this could be. It is possible she had intestinal cancer or serious kidney disease or a number of other things.

However, if it was this severe that she died after only a couple of days of being sick it is extremely unlikely that a vet visit would have made a significant difference.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thanks. That is helpful.

My concern with imodium was that maybe she was not able to get something out of her system that she needed to? However, after 2 days it seems like her system should have been clear of anything she ate. I don't think she ate anything toxic and she did not vomit.

In thinking about, diarrhea and lose stools were becoming a bit more common as she got older. Is that potentially an indication of a serious/terminal problem?

Did the white foam from her mouth indicate anything, or is that common?

Thanks again. You have been helpful.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome. This is really unlikely to be because of something toxic she ate, especially if she was having loose stools for a little while.

The loose stools could indicate a great number of things, but again intestinal cancer comes first to mind. Next on the list would be kidney or liver disease. Anything that I can think of would be an age related thing.

The white foam doesn't tell me a whole lot. However, sometimes this can mean that there was some fluid in the chest. The most common reason for fluid in the chest is cancer followed by heart disease, but with heart disease you would see a lot of coughing.

Customer reply:

Thanks again. One last question based on your reply.

She often made choking/gagging/coughing type sound when she would roll over on her back. I never really noticed this when she was upright, or it was very infrequent.

Have you ever seen anything like that and would that possibly indicate fluid in the lungs or a heart condition? Or just the affect of gravity tongue, throat or whatever?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

The coughing when she was on her back certainly could be indicative of fluid in the chest. So this could mean either cancer or heart disease.

If this was heart disease sometimes some medicines can buy us some time but usually not a whole lot.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.