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22-03-2010, 16:49   #1
IrishManSaipan
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Boxer dog - sudden death syndrome?

On Thursday evening my boxer dog(nearly seven years old) developed a rather nasty cough. During the course of the evening she was constantly coughing up big balls of mochus. On Friday morning she seemed considerably better, so I wrapped her up well and let her sleep in the kitchen whilst everybody else went out for the morning. When I came home on Friday evening, I brought her to the vet as she now developed problems breathing.

The vet gave her a course of antibiotics and sent her home. We organised an appointment for Monday evening(tonight).

On the Saturday she was getting notably worse, after long periods of coughing she would begin to panic. Her heart was beating like crazy. I rang the vet and he informed me to let the antibiotics run their course and to return on Monday evening(today). During the evening she would go out to the garden and sprawl out on the grass. This was unusual as she hated being left out the back garden, especially during the cold evenings. Was this a sign of imminent death? Eventually, I got her to bed, only for her to awake every couple of hours with coughing fits.

Yesterday morning, I realised something wasnt right. The coughing had got noticably worse and she was struggling, at times, to draw breathe. During the afternoon I coaxed her into having a drink of water and eating a mouthful or two of chicken and mash potato. She seemed ok after that and went for a snooze. Sometime in the late afternoon she went out the back garden to use the bathroom. Suddenly, she started staggering and dropped to the ground(she staggered to the same spot she lay in the previous evening). I ran out and got to her within fifteen seconds. She was unconscious and her eyes were heavily dilated. I got her to wake up after a minute or so. After a few minutes her eyes returned to normal but she was barely able to breathe. I knew she was a goner so we wrapped her in a blanket and made things as comfortable as possible before she eventually passed away.

The vet said she died of heart failure and its quite common for boxers to pass away from SDS. But this wasnt sudden. It was a gradual downward spiral spread out over 60-70 hours. Part of me knew that this wasnt a "normal illness" and I feel that I could have done more.

Is there anyway I could have prevented this?
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22-03-2010, 16:57   #2
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Sorry to hear this, actually brought a tear to my eye reading it. Maybe get a second oppinion for another vet in a different surgery?
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22-03-2010, 17:02   #3
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it does sound like you did everything you could, but i would wonder if the Vet could have done more, i feel for you - horrible to loose a pet in any circumstance.

personally i would try to talk to another vet, but i'm not sure if would help the situation

my thoughts are with you
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22-03-2010, 18:30   #4
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Sorry to hear this, actually brought a tear to my eye reading it. Maybe get a second oppinion for another vet in a different surgery?
Thanks for your words.

I dont really want to play the blame game and offend the vet in question. He is one of the most couteous and competent men I have ever met. I am just a bit peeved with myself for not taking her straight back down to the vets immediately once I realised she was seriously ill.

This is my first time with boxer dogs. Maybe somebody with more experience may know more? Is SDS common amongst boxers? Is there warning signs to look out for?
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22-03-2010, 19:24   #5
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From what you said, it sounds like she contracted a severe chest infection and died of heart failure as a result. It also sounds like you did everything you could. Boxers tend to have iffy hearts and as they get older their hearts can give out under any sort of stress (like what you described). So sad to hear about such a loved pet dying - you'll be in my thoughts.
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22-03-2010, 20:20   #6
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That's very sad. Don't blame yourself though, you were following the vet's advice. I'm not saying the vet is bad, but some vets don't seem to always take animals illnesses too seriously, when to their owners, it's very important.
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22-03-2010, 20:43   #7
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That's very sad. Don't blame yourself though, you were following the vet's advice. I'm not saying the vet is bad, but some vets don't seem to always take animals illnesses too seriously, when to their owners, it's very important.
I would tend to agree with this. Ive lost very valuable dogs when a vet didnt listen as have friends of mine

In your case OP I reckon there was not much more you could do. Coughing in dogs can often be a sign of heart problems which are btw rampant in boxers.

My heart goes out to you
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22-03-2010, 23:41   #8
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OP, just mourn your dog and figure out what you'd do next time around. I'm really sorry this happened to you, and to your poor boxer, they're such lovely dogs.

I agree with what people have said on here about sometimes vets not taking things as seriously as they might otherwise do. Everyone can make mistakes - the vet can make a mistake in not realising how ill the dog is, and sometimes we as owners make a mistake by trusting our vet and not our gut instinct.

I've paid some shockin vets bills in my time because I'll get in the car in the middle of the night instead of waiting until the vet opens at 9am, and more so because I'll always pay the kick-in-the-teeth extra fee for a weekend vet visit (my cats love to get sick on a Saturday morning) - but those fees have always been for more than just the consultancy, because when something's wrong, well, it's wrong.

I've never been sorry for going to the vet out of hours, or going to the emergency A&E vet (my pocket was bloody sorry after that one though), and I've occasionally been sorry that I waited, let's put it that way - but then again I have a lot of animals, and a lot of vet bills, and I spend a lot of time at the vet, so it's a natural part of my annual expenditure and it's budgeted for, so I don't have that sort of 'I wonder if this is worth a vet visit' mental block - I just go, pay, be done with it.

Look, your dog knew she was loved, cared for and made comfortable as she died. There are many, many animals who will never be as fortunate as she was, to have an owner that not only cared while she was alive, but who continues to fret and care now that she's gone.

Last edited by The Sweeper; 22-03-2010 at 23:46.
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22-03-2010, 23:48   #9
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That's very sad. Don't blame yourself though, you were following the vet's advice.
I should have went with my hunch. I knew something was seriously wrong and that the vets would be closed on Sunday. I should have just brought her down on to the vets on the Saturday. Shoulda, woulda, coulda, head melting stuff.

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I'm not saying the vet is bad, but some vets don't seem to always take animals illnesses too seriously, when to their owners, it's very important.
I am reluctant to point the finger at the vet. As I said, he was one of the most competent and courteous men I have ever encountered. She was in and out of the vets on a regular basis with niggly injuries and illnesses. So much so, that she was on the vets Christmas card list. Maybe he could have done more, who knows now.

For her to die in my arms yesterday was one of the most heartbreaking things I ever had to do. At times, she drove me up the wall. Jumping all over me at 7am and slabbering over my work clothes. But Id give me right arm for her to be able to do that again tomorrow morning.

Last edited by IrishManSaipan; 22-03-2010 at 23:51.
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22-03-2010, 23:54   #10
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Don't blame yourself I have 2 mates that had boxers and both of them died in very similar circumstances, sorry to hear, they are great companions..
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23-03-2010, 00:04   #11
IrishManSaipan
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Would a smoker in the house be a contributing factor?

I recently allowed a mate who has fallen on hard times crash at my place until he gets back on his feet. He smokes like a trooper in his room. Would that have an effect?
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23-03-2010, 00:05   #12
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Don't blame yourself I have 2 mates that had boxers and both of them died in very similar circumstances, sorry to hear, they are great companions..
Thanks for your words.

Were they a similar age? My pooch would have been seven next month.
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23-03-2010, 15:39   #13
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A friend of our family's boxer collapsed on Dollymount Beach one night while they were out for a walk. He said that the dog was dead before he hit the ground. He even tried to resusate(sp) him but to no avail.

Also, a lad that I worked with. He lost a boxer that was only about 2. So terrible losing a dog that young. It would break my heart.

Its these dodgy breeders that can count themselves responsible for screwing up the gene pool of these poor dogs just to make a quick buck.

Just be thankful that your girl was in her home being well looked after and with people doing their best for her. She was probably going outside as it was easier to breathe.
She sounds like she had a n amazing life living with you so pat yourself on the back because to her you were the best owner in the world!!

Have you asked for an autopsy on her? It won't change anything now but might give you a heads up with underlying conditions if you were ever going to get another boxer.

I hope you're ok.
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24-03-2010, 17:02   #14
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From what you said, it sounds like she contracted a severe chest infection
The coughing is a sign of heart failure. Not that you could expect the OP to know that, but I think the vet should have been aware.
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25-03-2010, 01:11   #15
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A friend of our family's boxer collapsed on Dollymount Beach one night while they were out for a walk. He said that the dog was dead before he hit the ground. He even tried to resusate(sp) him but to no avail.
Jesus. Boxers are reknowned for their weak tickers.

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Its these dodgy breeders that can count themselves responsible for screwing up the gene pool of these poor dogs just to make a quick buck.
Never a truer word spoken.


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Have you asked for an autopsy on her? It won't change anything now but might give you a heads up with underlying conditions if you were ever going to get another boxer.
No, the vet gave us three options.

1- Bury her in our back garden.
2- Send her to the crematorioum.
3- Get her cremated and pick up her urn in due course.

He never mentioned an autopsy and was quick to make the three suggestions. Is that strange? I am starting to feel a bit fobbed off.

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I hope you're ok.
I am getting there. Every time I open the front door I get a shock to see her empty bed. I expect to have her jumping all over me once I am in the door.

Thanks for your words


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The coughing is a sign of heart failure. Not that you could expect the OP to know that, but I think the vet should have been aware.
She was a relatively healthy dog. She tore her ligaments once whilst out on a run(she turned too quickly while sprinting around the park). But apart from that she just picked up niggly little illnesses and injuries. If her condition was spotted early enough, could she have recovered and have enjoyed a reasonable standard of living?

Last edited by IrishManSaipan; 25-03-2010 at 01:15.
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