Spay the dog!

jahlee 9-24-2012Yesterday I wrote a post on Save the Cat!, a how-to book for writers by Blake Snyder.  Today, we’re going to talk about spaying the dog.

Yesterday, my sweet baby, Jahlee, had to have an emergency spay because she had Pyometra.  The vet said if we’d waited, she would have died.

What is Pyometra?  In a nutshell, it’s a bacterial infection in the uterus of unspayed female dogs.  It usually occurs in middle-aged dogs and symptoms usually appear within 2 – 4 months after their last heat.  If left untreated, it can, and most likely will, result in the accumulation of infection in the bloodstream or abdominal cavity.  If left untreated, it will lead to systemic infection, shock and even death.  The severity of symptoms varies on whether the cervix is open or closed.

What causes pyometra?  Pyometra is caused by a raised level of progesterone, found naturally within 4- 8 weeks after the heat cycle.  These elevated  progesterone levels can sometimes cause cysts and pockets, which are prime target locations for bacteria. In pyometra cases, E. Coli is the  most common bacteria found in the infected uterus because it can thrive in a uterus sensitized by progesterone.

What are signs and symptoms?  Look for the following.  In Jahlee’s case, the symptoms came on very, very fast, within 5 days.

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Drinking and urinating a lot
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain and enlargement (Jahlee actually yelped when we would give her belly rubs)
  • Constant grooming around the vaginal opening

My pup had all of these.  It started with the lethargy.  She just wasn’t her happy self.  Then came the excessive thirst.  I thought she might have diabetes.  Then came the loss of appetite and some very mild vomiting, usually a little liquid.  As I said, her belly hurt, and toward Sunday into Monday, she started grooming herself a lot.  Monday night and all day Tuesday she just didn’t want to go or do anything, so we took her in.  The vet took a few good looks at her, and rushed her into surgery.  This is the most preferred form of treatment.  There are other methods to ‘cure’ the condition if you wish to breed your dog, but there is a high chance the disease will rear its ugly head again.  In Jahlee’s case, there were no other options.  The vet showed my hubby the uterus.  Instead of being the size of a small grapefruit, it was extended to the size of a flattened basketball.  My poor, poor baby.

She is still not out of the woods yet.  She is on antibiotics.  She has to go back to the vet this Saturday and then again in a week to have the stitches removed.  She’s still running a low-grade fever and she’s not eating a whole lot.  We definitely have to keep an eye on her to make sure all is well.

In closing, this is not a disease you want for your female dogs to get.  I can’t imagine if I’d lost her to this.  The great thing is, dog owners can prevent this all together by spaying their females before they are 6-months old.  Jahlee came to us unspayed.  We were also unaware that this disease existed.  We almost lost her.  We will never make that mistake again.

Spay and neuter.  It’s the path to long and healthy pet lives.

Homeopathic remedies for dogs with arthritis

Today I thought I’d switch from writing about writing to writing about dogs, primarily dogs with arthritis.

I have an elderly Australian Shepherd mix named Charlie.  He’s pushing 12 years old and the old man is suffering from some bad arthritis in his hips.  I feel so bad for him, watching him struggle to get up and down.  I spoke with my vet that I’ve had for years and he recommended putting Charlie on Rimadyl.  We did for about 2 weeks and it helped a lot, but after reading up on the side-effects (loss of appetite; blood in the urine; black, tarry stools; blood in vomit; jaundice from liver damage; lethargy, the list goes on and on), I thought I’d investigate and find some homeopathic remedies that will be kind on his aging system.

I recently spoke with a holistic vet and she recommended a few things that I’m going to try.

Yucca powder:  This herb contains natural steroids that help to relieve pain and discomfort. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which should help to reduce swelling in the joints.  Many pet stores (both online and brick and mortar) carry the powder.  Whatever you do, DO NOT let your dog, cat or horse eat this plant in its raw form.  It is highly toxic.  ONLY use powder form produced for use with animals.

Comfrey/parsley and rosemary:   a combination of these three ingredients are supposed to have an amazing effect on reducing the pain and inflammation in a dog suffering with arthritis.  Again, use products specifically formulated for dogs or contact your vet for specific dosages for your dog.

Adding broccoli, carrots, cabbage and asparagus is also believed to offer relief to your arthritic dog.

You might also want to add some chondroitin and glucosamine.  Both help to cushion the joints and create more flexibility.  Probiotics also help.

I like the idea of using homeopathic remedies because they’re natural and the side-effects are few.  I already have my Charlie on the glucosamine and chondroitin.  I have ordered Yucca powder from Healthy Pets and can’t wait to try it to see if it has any positive effects.

Have you used homeopathic remedies to help your pet’s conditions?  I would love to hear of your experiences.