Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I fail to understand

why people don't spay their dogs.

First day back at work and I'm presented with a small breed dog for lethargy and not eating. Naturally the owner sent a representative so history taking was not very productive.  But, I'm not sure how observant the owner is anyway since they told said representative that the illness started yesterday. And shockingly, the only record we have on the dog is that she has had two litters of puppies and zero preventive health care. Anyway, poor little dog had a fever, a tell-tale vaginal discharge and a fluid filled structure in her abdomen leaving me very suspicious of a pyometra (infected pus-filled uterus).  A quick x-ray pretty much confirmed this.  Normal protocol for this condition is immediate surgery to have the dog spayed before the uterus ruptures and leaks pus into the abdomen.  Pus, from any source, free floating in the abdomen, is a BAD thing.  Not to mention the long standing infection by itself can cause renal damage.

So, at 5PM no less, we went to surgery.  As I entered the abdomen, pus poured out of my incision.  Well, that's not cool, we are too late.  Poor little dog's prognosis just went from fair, to guarded.  I finished the spay and then lavaged (flushed or "washed") the abdominal cavity with sterile fluids until it was draining clear, and then flushed some more, gave some antibiotics and hoped for the best.

She was lucky.  This morning she was bright and alert, eating and licking her incision!  This could have easily gone the other way.  And she's not totally out of the woods but the odds have tipped in her favor considerably. This is a potentially fatal and completely preventable condition.  And don't think it's only a condition of older females, this dog was only four.

You can read more about pyometra here.  I'm too lazy to write about the details, especially since it's not a disease most dogs will get as it's limited to intact females.


Paint Girl said...

That is one lucky dog. Hope she will be ok.
I have never understood either why people don't spay or neuter their pets. Mine have always gotten done as soon as possible. It's the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

In fact, a lot of spay/neuters for the convenience of the owner, not for the benefit of the dog. People don't want to scratch from competitions, put up with a male whining, etc.
I have a neutered male and an unspayed female who make a great couple and would really think twice about putting a female through a spay. There are health risks associated with any surgery and longterm issues with spays especially. In many European countries, mostly those that don't have the issues with millions of animals PTS for lack of homes, spay and neuter are considered to be animal cruelty and forbidden by law unless the veterinarian is willing to attest that it is in the dog's interest.

Karissa said...

There are many articles available on the pros and cons of spay/neuter, Anonymous. Everyone has to come to their own conclusions and do what is right for them.

The sad fact, though, is that the majority of pet owners in the US are idiots. They are not responsible enough to care for an intact animal -- as this dog's owner has proven, with a dog that has birthed two litters of puppies with no regular veterinary care whatsoever. And considering the advanced stage of infection, probably couldn't even be bothered to notice that the dog was ill until it reached the point of near death.

I do not believe in mandatory spay/neuter laws because I do believe that there are responsible owners out there ---- But the MAJORITY of people really have no business keeping their animals intact. The minor health risks associated with surgery are minimal compared to the long term advantages.

Nicki said...

I agree with Karissa. Personally, I would never own an intact dog or cat.

Nicki said...

Had another pyo today-this dog less than three years old.

Elizabeth said...

I agree totally Karissa.. Spay and neuter is the only way to go.

Anonymous said...

I'll keep disagreeing -- spay and neuter is not the way to go. Responsible pet ownership is.

Question for borderblog: do you or other vets do spays that are basically tubal litigations? I can see the benefit to ensure sterility but I am very very loathe to mess with hormonal cycles that might affect bone density, etc.

Nicki said...

Responsible pet ownership does not prevent pyometra. I don't do those, but there is always someone who will do anything.