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D2002-09

Dear Daisy Dog

My 8-year-old spayed female dalmatian died suddenly. Before she died, she was completely normal. She ate breakfast, lay down for a nap and never awoke. What kind of illness could cause this?

Daisy Responds

I am so sorry for your loss. While it’s always difficult to lose a family member, it seems especially painful when you haven’t had the opportunity to say goodbye.

I am assuming her veterinarian found her to be healthy on her last annual physical exam, that her blood work was normal, and that she hadn’t ingested anything poisonous.

In that case, sudden unexpected death in dogs is most often associated with one of two conditions, both of which are usually inapparent until it is too late.

In the first, the heart stops beating in its usual rhythmic fashion because of a heart disease such as cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disorder that disturbs the normal transmission of electrical impulses through the heart.

Another cause of sudden death is rupture of a tumor such as a hemangiosarcoma, cancer of the blood vessels. Ruptured hemangiosarcomas of the liver and spleen release blood into the abdomen, while hemangiosarcomas on the heart release blood into the chest cavity.

I hope it helps a little to know your dalmatian didn’t suffer. Both conditions are painless.

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