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.