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Limping, trouble breathing and then dog died.

Species: Dog
Breed: labrador retreiver
Age: 2-5 years
Dr. Marie,
My dog died this evening and am looking for possible causes. I did not want to have an autopsy done. I know it probably doesn't matter since his is gone, but I am very troubled by what could have happened.

I returned home from out of town Saturday evening. The person taking care of the dog said that he noticed Ranger was favoring his leg and having some respiratory issues. He first noticed this Friday evening.

I considered going to an emergency vet, but he seemed well enough to wait until Monday morning to go see the vet. I did call the vet, and he said to give him an antibiotic, Amoxicillin 500mg, twice daily. I gave him 2 doses before he died.

Sunday he was lethargic and limping and obviously uncomfortable. Normally very active, he laid under the table much of the day. He didn't have a cough, but shallow breathing. I also noticed that he was shedding excessively - but it just got alot hotter here. When we went to feed him, he ran to his bowl as usual. He had a few bites, then began to gag. I got down to see what was going on, and noticed that his throat was very swollen and felt fluid like. It was between his above his collar, and the collar was still loose. There was no swelling that I noticed previously.

I then saw that he was having trouble breathing. I put him in the car quickly, and he didn't seem to be breathing at all. I rushed, but he died before I got to the vet.

Any ideas?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am so sorry. This sounds like such a tragic situation.

I'm afraid I don't have an exact answer for you. It sounds like this could have been some type of an allergic reaction, perhaps to an insect sting. Another possibility could be if you have venomous snakes in your area, it could be a snake bite.

In a cat, I could connect the limping and difficulty breathing by saying it was some type of a stroke, but this is quite uncommon in dogs.

The other things that I can think of would be quite rare. One possibility could be if he had somehow electrocuted himself. Electrocution can cause extreme fluid buildup in the lungs. So, we could connect the respiration issues and the limping issues if perhaps he electrocuted himself by touching a live wire with his leg. But, more commonly electrocution is caused by biting a live wire in dogs. This shouldn't cause limping.

You didn't mention if the limping was in the front or hind legs. If it was the hind legs, sometimes what looks like limping is actually weakness due to extreme blood loss into the abdomen. This can happen if there is something like a ruptured spleen tumor or a serious trauma that caused internal bleeding of perhaps the liver.

While we will never know what happened, I can't think of anything that would cause these symptoms that would be likely to be treatable if you had been able to take him in to the vet sooner. This was obviously a very serious problem.

I wish I could do more for you. Please know that this was not in any way your fault.

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. AskAVetQuestion.com 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.

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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.