This necropsy was conducted at the request of Chief , of Animal Services, in order to determine the cause of death of an adult, female, blue and white, Pit bull (animal# )). This necropsy was conducted on 8/21/12 from 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM at the C.A. Pound Lab at the University of Florida. Scene findings: I was not present on scene, the following information was provided by Chief . On 8/18/12, Animal Services ( AS) received a call from an unknown individual stating that a dog was being suffocated with a plastic bag at . Upon responding to this call, the dog was found to be buried in a shallow grave.
AS had responded earlier in the day to a call at this same location regarding the same dog in question. At that time, the caller (indicated as the owner of the residence located at
) stated that the dog was a stray and would not leave their property ( ). AS responded and upon arrival scanned the dog for a microchip, a chip reading was found. The individual living at the residence was the owner of the dog, according to the information registered on the microchip. This dog was not removed from the property and a warning was issued, requiring that the owner to provide the dog with veterinary care within 48 hours as the responding officer was concerned about the dogs’ emaciated appearance.
The dog was excavated on 8/18/12 and placed in bag. The body was stored in refrigeration until it was transported to the University of Florida on 8/21/12 by .
No medical history was provided for this dog.
Overview of gross necropsy findings:
The dog was found to be infested with fleas, its nails were overgrown, and there was a generalized patchy alopecia (hair loss) on the ventral (bottom) aspect of the abdomen. There was some scarring present on the dogs face and legs in a distribution consistent with organized dog fighting (see attached scar chart). The dog was emaciated with a body condition score of 1.5/9 on the Purina scale (see attached scale). There was little to no fat stores present in the body. Some muscle atrophy (wasting) was observed as well. There was a generalized lymphadenopathy (all lymph nodes were markedly enlarged) and an enlarged spleen with multifocal lesions throughout. Some foam was present in the trachea at the time of necropsy. See attached gross exam worksheet for further detail.
Photo: DSC_5500.JPEG- Overall photo
Photo: DSC_5512.JPEG- Demonstrated the dogs emaciated condition
Photo: DSC_5570.JPEG – Enlarged left retropharyngeal lymph node
Photo: DSC_5604.JPEG – Enlarged spleen with multifocal lesions throughout
Photo: DSC_5600.JPEG – Foam in caudal (back) aspect of trachea
Ancillary procedures, laboratory tests, and results:
All major organs and lesions were sampled and submitted to the University of Florida Veterinary Medical Center for histopathology. Histopathology confirmed the diagnosis of lymphosarcoma (see attached report).
Radiographs of the thorax and abdomen were obtained on 8/20/12 by Animal Services and submitted along with the body. On 8/21/12 additional radiographs of the skull were taken. No fractures observed.
Bone marrow fat analysis:
A femur was submitted to Purdue University Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for bone marrow fat analysis. The bone marrow fat content was reported to be very low and consistent with observations made at necropsy (see attached report).
Cause of death:
This dog was suffering from an advanced stage of lymphosarcoma, commonly referred to as lymphoma. Lymphoma is a common malignant tumor of dogs that attack lymph tissue. The average life expectancy for a patient with untreated lymphoma is about 2 months from the time of diagnosis. Eventually, the cancer will invade an organ to such an extent that the organ fails. The animal will typically lose its appetite, begin vomiting or develop diarrhea, weaken and die.
There are no gross or histological findings diagnostic of asphyxia. Though there was foam present in the trachea, which maybe suggestive of an asphyxial death, it is by no means diagnostic of asphyxia. It is important to note that even in documented cases of smothering there may be no gross and/or histological lesions observed. Therefore, the hypothesis that the dog was smothered to death, by application of a plastic bag over its head, cannot be confirmed or denied.
Emaciation can occur in an animal that is eating, but is unable to digest, absorb, and⁄ or utilize a sufficient quantity of nutrients and can be attributed to injuries, dental disease, parasitism, neoplasia (cancer such as lymphosarcoma), toxins, or infectious disease. As an animal undergoes the advanced stages of malnutrition or starvation, they use up whatever reserves of fat they have in their body. As available fat is exhausted, they begin to utilize muscle tissue in order to maintain vital functions. This becomes evident as the animal loses subcutaneous fat and muscle mass, leading to an excessively thin or emaciated appearance. Eventually there are no more reserves to draw from and vital function can no longer be maintained leading to death of the animal. During the advanced stages of malnutrition the body utilizes fat stores in a sequential
manner, using the most expendable fat stores first and the more vital areas last. The external fat stores are used first, then internal fat stores, followed by deep organ fat. The last place the body utilizes fat from is the bone marrow. It is important to note that in advanced stages of malnutrition death may be sudden and unexpected.
Given that this dog had very little bone marrow fat left in its body, indicates that it was in the advanced stages of malnutrition or starvation. Given the fact that this animal was suffering from an advanced stage of lymphoma, its emaciated state is most likely attributed to malnutrition as a result of this underlying disease process, though starvation (either total or partial lack of food) cannot be completely ruled out. At the time of necropsy there was a significant amount of ingesta present throughout the GI tract, however, it did appear that the dog had diarrhea.