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Bulldog death.

Species: Dog
Breed: American Bulldog
Age: 5-8 years
I had American Bulldog. Behr would have been having his 6th birthday on May 24. He died on Sunday May 4. He had been in great health prior to that morning. Had seen his Vet in March, all his vaccinations were up to date, including parvo virus and rabbis. He was examined by the Vet and found to be in excellent health. The evening of May 3 he came into the house and ate his dinner as usual. Drank water, no problems. When I woke Sunday morning I went downstairs to let him outside to the backyard and he didn’t want to stand up. His hind legs buckled when he tried. I lay him down, examined him and I didn’t see any injury. He does have hip dysphasia and at times does not want to immediately move around, so I left alone for few more minutes, went back upstairs and did a few more chores. When I returned to Behr he was still lying the same position and his breathing was heavier than usual. I sat and watched him wondering maybe - as I had a huge spider in the house a few days prior - maybe he had been bitten by it or something else. So I searched the small patio area were he stays at night, cleaned his bedding. I noticed one of his blankets was et and smelled of unrine but again, not necessarily unusual as he is known to have an accident from time to time. I took old items and replaced them with fresh blankets, and I put a pillow under his head. I checked his stool that was in the yard where he defecated every day – same spot, nothing unusual. He was extremely tired. I sat with him brushed him and talked to him trying to decide whether I needed to make a call for help to get him to a Vet. It was Sunday and his Vet was closed so I would have to find another place to take him. I looked all over his body for a bite or wound and I couldn’t find anything. I went upstairs and researched on the computer what could be causing his lethargic behavior and sudden loss of mobility in his hind legs. I had a gardener there at the time, and they were working in the backyard. When I returned to Behr he had stood up, unsteady but he wanted to go outside. I had to make him wait until the gardener finished, so I lay him back down. When the gardeners were done I pinned the screen door open so he could go out when he felt up to it. I went back to my computer, when I came back to Behr he had gone down outside and I was encouraged by this. I brought him back indoors however, because I was still so worried, and he lay back down and sat with him a few minutes talking to him and brushing him. Suddenly he let out a cry, it scared me, and I knew we had to find a Vet hospital. I called a relative to come and help me with him as he is 110 pounds, and I cannot pick him up. While I was on the phone Behr cried louder almost like a scream. I rushed to him and he was in the throws of a violent seizure, he was on his side, legs prone and shaking his entire body was shaking, his body lifted off the floor and then he collapsed. I was crying hysterically. He lay there now breathing in huffs. Hearing my voice he tried move a few times, but then he stopped breathing and died just as my help was arriving. I recalled after a few days that Behr was eating a lot of grass a few weeks ago. I know dogs do that when they're stomach is upset and they need to vomit, but even with that – he seemed fine. Can you give me some kind of idea what may have taken Behr away from me.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh I am sorry to hear of your story. It sounds very traumatic.

While I won't be able to say for sure what happened, I can give you some ideas. My first thought when you were describing how Behr was having difficulty getting up was that he could have had some internal bleeding. If he was bleeding into his abdomen then this can cause extreme weakness and it can cause his breathing to be labored. The most common cause for sudden bleeding into the abdomen would be if he had a tumor on his spleen that ruptured. While 6 is a little young for this, it still is possible.

Another thing that could cause internal bleeding would be if he had eaten some type of rat or mouse poisoning. This is probably unlikely, but it is worth mentioning.

It's also possible that Behr had a serious problem with his intestines. One example could be if there was an obstruction from something that he had eaten. Or, it could be that he had something called a mesenteric torsion. This is where the intestines suddenly twist around and cut off their own supply of blood.

Another possibility would be something called addison's disease which is a problem where the adrenal glands do not make enough cortisol. Some dogs can get something called an addisionian crisis. They will have extreme weakness and can have vomiting and diarrhea as well. I think this is a less likely possibility than the other things that I have mentioned.

Bulldogs can be more prone to breathing issues and to things like heatstroke but this doesn't sound like what happened to him.

The seizure that you saw probably was not indicative of a particular problem, but rather, was part of the stages of dying.

I wish I had more answers for you. It sounds like things happened extremely quickly and likely there was not much that could have been done. I'm 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:

Thank you for your reply. 3 years ago he was treated for some type of blockage or infection in his intestines. However then he had stopped eating and drinking water for nearly 3 days i had to give him water with a large medicine syringe to keep him hydrated and the vet found blood in his stool and the gave him on antibiotics. a strict diet of canned science diet almost like a fast for about a week and he fully recovered, but this was so different.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're right. Usually an intestinal blockage will have more prolonged signs than what you have described. However, if there was a blockage that perforated the intestines you could see some more acute symptoms like you did. Probably abdominal bleeding or a mesenteric torsion is more likely though.

Customer reply:

Oh, and what about all the grass eating th 2 weeks before his death?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It's hard to say whether that was related or not. Dogs will often eat grass if they have an upset stomach, but it really isn't indicative of anything specific unfortunately.

Customer reply:

Okay. I thank you so much. It gives me a little closure. I feel so guilty though he would chew anything he could even,though he had bones. Maybe if i had taken him to the doctor immediately they could,have saved,him?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It's really hard to say without knowing what the problem was. But, it sounds like the problem came on very quickly, so probably nothing could be done.

Again, so sorry for your loss.

Dr. Marie

Customer reply:

Thank you so much.

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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.

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