If your dog was bleeding from the mouth and died, you may be wondering what could have happened to cause such a fatality.
The most important question perhaps is this: was your dog bleeding from the mouth before dying or did the bleeding from the mouth occur after death?
This information can make a difference.
Sadly, the only way to tell what may have happened to your dog is to have your veterinarian conduct a necropsy (that is, an autopsy for animals).
If this is not an option, then here are some potential causes as to why your dog was bleeding from the mouth and died, or died and then started bleeding from the mouth.
Help, My Dog Was Bleeding From the Mouth and Died
Sadly, in this case of a dog bleeding from the mouth first the list of issues can be quite lengthy.
There are a variety of serious problems such as internal bleeding or some severe blood clotting problem at play.
Following are some conditions in more detail.
A Problem in the Lungs
Dogs may develop some forms of cancer in the lungs and after death, it is possible for some fluid to leak out from the dog's mouth. The blood in this case is often not pure red, but mostly pinkish.
Compared to humans, it is quite rare for a dog to develop primary lung cancer. In humans, primary lung cancer develops in over 100,000 people in the United States and is strongly associated with smoking.
In dogs instead, primary lung cancers account for only 1 percent of all canine cancers. Secondary cancer to the lungs (in other words, spreading from a distant organ to the lungs) is much more common in both dogs and cats.
A Problem With the Heart
Heart disease, such as CHF (congestive heart failure) can be a cause for a dog to die and bleed from the mouth.
What happens in this case, is that, during heart failure, the dog's heart fails to pump enough blood out of the heart.
This blood backing up therefore ends up in the lungs and then risks leaking out.
In dogs, congestive heart failure is mostly caused by two heart conditions, namely valve degeneration (more common in small dog breeds) and dilated cardiomyopathy (more common in large dog breeds).
Congestive heart failure in dogs is a chronic condition that worsens over time. Although symptoms can be managed, there is no cure, and in time, affected dogs will unfortunately reach the final stages of congestive heart failure.
A Tumor of the Stomach
Sadly, cancer is very common in older dogs, especially those over the age of 10, when it impacts 1 dog out of 2. A tumor in the dog's stomach may cause a dog to die and bleed from the mouth.
In particular, in an older dog, a condition known as gastric adenocarcinoma could be a culprit.
A gastric adenocarcinoma in dogs is a type of tumor that grows in the dog's stomach. This type of tumor is prone to rupturing, and when it does, it can tear blood vessels leading to potential quick bleeding in the stomach.
This blood loss can be substantial, causing weakness and death in the dog due to massive internal bleeding. It could be that, prior to dying, your dog may have therefore vomited some blood. Fortunately, dying from a ruptured tumor tends to lead to a quick death, with the dog weakening and likely passing out from blood loss before dying, explains veterinarian Dr. Gary.
Ingestion of Rat Poison
Among dogs, a very possible cause for bleeding would be ingesting a batch of rat poison bait. Rat poison bait often contains brodifacoum, also known as super warfarin. Because it is similar to warfarin, an anticoagulant used by heart patients, but in a much stronger, longer-acting formulation, it can kill a dog depending on much is consumed. This poison is meant to kill rats by having them bleed internally to death.
Signs of a dog ingesting rat poison may include nose bleeds, bloody diarrhea and bruising under the skin. Dogs dying from ingesting rat poison tend to get weak and may bleed from the nose, mouth or rectum.
A Blood Clotting Disorder
As with rat poison, a dog with an underlying blood clotting disorder may bleed and die. Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia is a possible underlying cause. With this immune condition, the body attacks the platelets which are responsible for helping blood clot.
Once the platelets get below a critical level, affected dogs can bleed out spontaneously from any part of the body and die suddenly. It is an awful condition with a bad prognosis, even if it is caught early.
A Matter of Seizures
Seizures can sometimes kill dogs, especially when they last very long. In such cases, what may happen is that the dog may end up biting his tongue during a seizure which may lead to profuse bleeding as the tongue is very vascular.
Some Type of Trauma
Dogs involved in a car accident or dogs kicked by horse, may die with blood coming from the mouth. The dog may have sustained traumatic injury to the mouth or could have been injured internally, leading to a lung bleed.
The Bottom Line
As seen, the causes of a dog bleeding from the mouth and dying can be several.
If you need answers, you can discuss your dog's death with your vet and see if the vet may have any insights to share based on your dog's medical history.
More information could be obtained through a necropsy, although it may not always provide the answers we would expect.
On top of this, some owners may find its cost prohibitive or unwarranted. However, some dog health insurances may require one to cover the expenses.
How Much Does a Dog Necropsy Cost?
The costs for a dog's necropsy may vary based on several factors such as location, what the vet needs to look for and the length of the procedure.
The procedure may take anywhere between half hour to over 2 hours depending on how quickly the veterinarian can pinpoint the cause of death.
The cost of a dog's necropsy may be between $300 and $500. The higher end pricing is often reserved to cases where the vet may need to send tissue samples to a laboratory for microscopic examination or to check for toxic substances.
The best option to have an accurate price is to call around vet offices and obtain some rough estimates.
A veterinary pathologist usually performs necropsies. These specialists have obtained special training and experience so they can perform these necropsies more thoroughly.
It's important to point out a dog's body should be kept as fresh as possible until the procedure is carried out, ideally through refrigeration and should never be frozen.
While necropsies are not cheap, they are worth it if they reveal vital information about the cause of your dog's death and other relevant information, however, a dog necropsy does not always guarantee definitive answers to a dog owners' questions.