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Our gorgeous puppy died on Xmas day. Anyone able to help?

(70 Posts)
Belgrano Wed 29-Dec-10 19:18:31


Our beautiful 17 wk old lab puppy was unbelievably and incredibly sadly found (by me) dead on Christmas Day morning in her bed. She was asleep on her side in her usual sleeping position with legs stretched out. Has anyone got any ideas what it could be or similar stories?

There was no vomiting or blood in her stools. No frothing at the mouth. No fever or crying or anything beyond a slight listlessness at bedtime the night before which we put down to a very busy and fun packed (for her) Christmas eve - lots of dogs to play with, a nice country walk and a car journey to my mums and the whole family with her all day. Her fur looked good. There was no blueness to her gums which would indicate death by heart failure apparently. my brother (sleeping next door) heard a couple of whines about half an hour apart at about 5 or 6 am. He thought she needed to go out to the loo, so it wasn't by any means a yowl of agony. That was all.

The vet said she had seen this only 4 or 5 times in her working life (15 yrs) and said it was totally inexplicable. The only slight clue is that her growth had slown down in the couple of weeks before death. She was 7.6 kg at 11 wks, which is pretty big for a pup and then 8.8kg at 13 wks, 10.5kg at 15 wks and 11.05kg when she died at almost 17 wks. She was 38 cm to the shoulder the day she died. Could she die from not feeding her enough? I'm worried about that. I fed her a fair bit less than the packet (James Wellbeloved Junior, so quality stuff) said because she picked up what the kids dropped (a lot when you have a one year old) and also had some tidbits in training and I didn't want her to be a fat lab . I wish she was a fat and alive lab now.

They act starving all the time so its pretty hard to know. She wasn't particularly skinny looking at death, she just had a nice waist and a gloss to her fur, and heaps of energy. Surely there would be some mangy looking-ness and lethargy over a few days/weeks if she was actually starving wouldn't there? Or could it be that I had switched to 'Junior' food from 'Puppy' a few days before? Can that kill them?

If anyone can help I'd be so grateful.

Thank you

conniedescending Wed 29-Dec-10 19:23:37

poor you - how sad

I would take heed from what your vet said - sounds like its just one of those shitty things that happens. It certainly sounds like pup was well looked after and loved from what you've said so please don't blame yourself.

i'm pretty sure if she was malnourished there would have been lots of signs beforehand.

Have you spoken to the breeder you got her from about this?

TotorosOcarnina Wed 29-Dec-10 19:23:42

I'm so sorry.

In all honesty it doesn't sound like it was anything to do with you at all, switching food does not kill dogs, usually they are fine or may get a runny bum for a few days,

Did the vet do an autopsy?

It sounds like there was a serious underlying problem that may have not been detected (through no fault of yours!)

Sometimes dogs judt pass away for unkown reasons, like people

im really sorry for your loss xxx

MappandLucia Wed 29-Dec-10 19:28:25

I have nothing constructive to add, but wanted to say how sorry I am and it's quite obvious from your post that your dog was much loved and very well looked after x

NewYearNewKnickersOnMyHead Wed 29-Dec-10 19:32:27

So sorry for your loss sad

Northernlebkuchen Wed 29-Dec-10 19:32:33

I think you should speak to the breeder too. Sounds like some sort of genetic thing maybe? Desperate bad luck for you all sad

Slubberdegullion Wed 29-Dec-10 19:33:41

How very very sad. My heart goes out to you.

Try not to blame yourself. i agree with what connie says, just one of those unbelievably shitty freak things that happen sad

I'm sure it would have been very obvious if she had been seriously malnourished (which I'm sure she was not). The swithcing from puppy to junior wouldn't have been a factor at all.

<hugs> to you and your family.

SmacSmackedSanta Wed 29-Dec-10 19:34:42

Oh Belgrano what a sad sad story.
I'm sure it's nothing you have done and Labs can and do eat anything and everything so I'm sure a change in diet would not have affected her.
Like connie says I think you should contact the breeder. There maybe some congenital problem.

theevildead2 Wed 29-Dec-10 19:37:15

Could this not be a bit like SIDS but with dogs? Doesn't sound like there was anything you could do. Really sorry for your loss

BeerTricksPotter Wed 29-Dec-10 19:37:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Samvet Wed 29-Dec-10 19:38:23

Sorry to hear this. Without a post mortem you will never know. It won't be the food, if not eating enough the puppy would get skinny way way before dying. This is likely a congenital problem, cardiac in origin, if no exposure to anything toxic. I am sorry you will never know but it doesn't sound like anything you did at all.

StayingFatherChristmasGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 19:44:42

We also feed our lab less than it says on the packet of whichever food she is eating at the time - because the vet told me that they deliberately overstate how much to give, in order that you use up more food. He said this was why our lab puppy was a bit overweight.

She is now over 18 months old, and we still adjust her food if she has had (or stolen) other tidbits during the day - so I think you were doing absolutely the right thing for your puppy, and have nothing to blame yourself for.

My heart goes out to you, as I know how quickly they get those big paws around your heart, and losing her like that is just so sad.


kid Wed 29-Dec-10 19:46:55

I am so sorry to hear you puppy passed away. Losing a pet is very much like losing a member of the family so it is completely normal for you to grieve the loss of your pup.

Definitely contact the breeder so they know what has happened. If you can get a post mortem done, it will be worth it for peace of mind if nothing else.

My puppy died in May this year and I did not get a post mortem done. It left me sad and confused about his death. In hindsight, I wish I had got a post mortem done but at the time I was in shock and knew it wouldn't bring him back so I didn't see the point in dragging it on any longer than neccessary.

It sounds like you loved and cared for your puppy. I am so sorry that you didn't have more time together sad

Belgrano Wed 29-Dec-10 19:48:04

Because of the shitty timing we couldn't have a postmortem done until today (first bloody working day was a full 5 days after it happened). The emergency vet doesn't offer it, only took her into cold storage and issued death certificate. So we decided not to do it as any virus or toxic substance would apparently not be there by now due to tissue degradation, so it seemed a bit pointless.

I thought of a SIDS explanation too bbut when I asked on the phone (DH took pup in while I stayed at home with the kids so I had to phone her afterwards to ask my questions (but she was not that easy to understand) the vet said a SIDS type thing would be more likely to have happened at an earlier stage. Apparently 17 wks is pretty mature in pup terms, so SIDS type deaths happen before 6/8 wks.

I have told the breeder and she said no other puppies from that litter have died. She kept one and it weighs around 14kg which made me suspicious as to ours only being 11.05kg at the same age. They were pretty similar when I chose ours, although hers was a bit heavier then too.

Silly question but a skinny puppy who's not getting fed enough, I mean that would look really obviously skinny wouldn't it? Her fur wouldn't cover up skinniness to the point she could die of starvation without me realising she was seriously skinny?

StayingFatherChristmasGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 19:54:01

I'm absolutely sure that you would have seen if she was too skinny, Belgrano. Not only would she have looked too thin, despite the fur, but she would have had no energy and wouldn't have been playful and happy.

And changing dog food wouldn't have harmed her either - even as a puppy, ours was fine with different dog foods - as someone else said, worst case they'd get a bit of a runny tummy or refuse the new food (not that our lab has ever refused food - labs can and will eat anything).

kid Wed 29-Dec-10 19:57:33

A skinny pup who isn't getting fed enough would not have much energy and would certainly look skinny.

How are your DC taking it? It must have been a terrible shock but even worse for it to happen on Christmas day.

nameymacnamechanger Wed 29-Dec-10 20:02:46

Oh you poor thing sad you must be heartbroken what a horrible thing to happen any day of the year but christmas day is just the worst day of the year for it to happen!

I agree with the other posters that you shouldn't beat yourself up about her weight / changing food, sounds like she was happy and active and very very well cared for. I'm so sorry for your loss. sad

minimu1 Wed 29-Dec-10 20:09:09

Belgrano I have not seen you or the pup but can guarantee that she did not starve to death. A dog that died of starvation would be emaciated and have no energy and would look like skin and bones.

Also changing the diet would not kill a puppy. The breeder may have a dog rather than a bitch which could be bigger may or else the difference in weight may be a symptom of an illness that was impossible to detect or your pup was just a smaller one.

You must be feeling terrible but please please do not beat yourself up about this - there was a medical reason that no one could anticipate and it was not your fault.

You must all still be in major shock and it will take time to come to terms with this I am so sorry you are all going through this

FlankerMum Wed 29-Dec-10 20:15:11

Please don't beat yourself up about starving your pup. From what you describe, your pup was within healthy limits and happy. A starving pup would have no energy, appear depressed and have dull coat. The pup would look like that for days/weeks before dying of malnourishment.
I am a breeder of German Shepherds, trust me you were not responsible. I would check out the possibility of something like Addisons Disease which can cause sudden death in a dog of that age. If it was something like Addisons then rest assured it would have been very quick and painless.
I'm so sorry for your loss!

JaxTellersOldLady Wed 29-Dec-10 20:17:33

What a massive shock for you and your family. And on Christmas day too, you poor thing.

I agree with the others, no way would your pup have died of starvation. You would have seen it, I promise you that much. And changing food wouldnt have made any difference either.

Please contact your breeder and let them know what has happened.

My heart goes out to you. So very sorry for your loss.

Belgrano Wed 29-Dec-10 20:19:03

Thank you all for your kind words and reassurance.

DCs - well DS is only 16 mo and I'm not sure he's noticed to be honest. We've been away from home and he's not speaking yet so haven't had to explain there.

DD is a very verbal almost 4 yo and is devastated to lose her best friend. She has been told a fib (what else can you do on Christmas morning?) that the pup has had to go back to the farm it came from and is very happy to be chosen and will have a wonderful life and we should be happy for her although its sad for us to lose her.

She just wants another one. I know it sounds callous but we are already looking for another one. With kids this little, who were just getting used to the whole puppy thing, replacement can be a good thing I think. That said, our dear first puppy will always have a special place in my heart and be my most precious puppy.

midori1999 Wed 29-Dec-10 20:20:32

I agree compltely with the others, underfeeding is not the cause, it would have been obvious if it were. Dog food manufacturers over estimate the amount of food they say you should feed your dog and all dogs are different, so you did right to feed by eye/less than the packet stated.

There could eb all sorts of reasons the breeder's pup is bigger than yours. Does the breeder show? Some puppies are shown with far too much fat on them for a start. As Minimu says, maybe she has kept a dog puppy too. An underlying heart problem could mean slower than usual weight gain and might be a cause of death, but without a post mortem you'll never know sadly.

Did the breeder have the puppy checked over by her vet prior to you taking it? Did you tak eit to your own vet to be checked over once you got her?

WynkenBlynkenandNod Wed 29-Dec-10 20:24:19

Just wanted to say how very sorry I am for you all.

FairyTaleOfNewYork Wed 29-Dec-10 20:25:29

i am so sorry.

FWIW the difference in sizes from pups from one litter can vary a lot. one of my boys is noticably bigger and heavier than his brother. they are lab x cross breeds.

where abouts are you, as a friend has a new litter of doddle pups due soon.

kid Wed 29-Dec-10 20:26:41

I had to get another puppy when my 7 month old pup died, it was the only thing that kept me going. I have neot forgotten my first precious pup and I do still cry for him now, but I have moved on and am very lucky to have another wonderful pup to love and care for.

My DC were both older than your two. I don't blame you for not telling your DD the truth. If you had, you would then have to answer lots of questions about why and how etc which you don't have the answers for.

I don't know the circumstances around your previous puppy, but I felt it helped me relax with my new pup by ensuring that both parents had been health checked and that the pup had been seen by a vet. Infact, my pup was seen by the vet 4 times as I collected him quite late (11weeks) Best of luck in your search for your pup.

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