Sudden Death - 4 year old German Shepherd
We just lost our much loved, very healthy and happy 4 year old german shepherd to sudden death. He literally died in his tracks during an evening walk. It was heart wrenching, heart breaking, and completely devastating to witness. A necropsy was done and there was no immediate reason found for this beautiful dog to not still be alive and yet he lay dead. Tissue samples of his heart, lungs, liver and spleen were sent out to a veterinary college for further review in the hope some definitive answers can be found. The most likely scenario appears to be tachycardia or a sudden misfiring of his heart. Generally issues of genetic heart problems are discovered early in puppyhood where sudden death occurs with young puppies or those under 1 year old. It is unusual but not unlikely for the genetic issue to surface later and suddenly and without symptoms result in death. One puppy in our dog's litter did die a sudden death when it was only a couple of months old. We had heard the story and felt the pain the owner must have experienced but we had wrongly assumed it was an odd incident that we didn't need to be concerned with and went about our life with our dog. The genetic component only needs to be carried on one parent. If the issue shows up in a litter the breeder needs to be aware that the genetics is there. If a puppy dies of a sudden death in a litter the other puppies and related dogs are at risk even into adulthood. There are steps to find the issue such as looking closely at the health of the breeding pairs by following up on the health of litters and if a problem is possible because a sudden death has occurred then an EKG and electrocardiogram may detect an issue.
There are a ton of things we wish we had known, a ton of would haves, could haves, what ifs, and if only continually flood our grief....but it doesn't change the reality that our dog is gone, our hearts are broken, each sighting of a toy, a treat box, an empty bed, fur that was shedded or left in a brush, and the vacant yard bring on the tears. Our dog should be here and yet he is gone. He left in a instant in front of our eyes..................and now our eyes see everything through tears.