Labrador health:  Pyometra – how to make sure your dog is safe

Pyometra is a rare but serious condition caused by certain bacteria that are normally found in warm soil or water. They cause an infection inside the uterus (uterus) which causes uterine contractions, irregular bleeding and sometimes even miscarriage. The infection usually starts during pregnancy when the mother’s immune system attacks her own placenta. However, it can happen at any time after birth if there is not enough immunity from the mother to fight off these infections. If left untreated, the infection can spread throughout the body causing severe pain and possibly death.

The most common symptoms include abdominal cramps, heavy bleeding, fever and nausea. Other signs may include vomiting blood or no urine for several days.

Severe cases of pyometra can lead to organ failure and even death.

There is currently no cure for pyometra. Treatment consists of keeping the infected area clean and avoiding contact with other dogs until the infection clears up.

There are various types of antibiotics available to treat pyometra, however they all have their drawbacks and complications. Some antibiotics can cause kidney damage or even death in some cases. A veterinarian will need to examine your pet before deciding what treatment is best for him/her.

Dogs that have experienced a miscarriage are more likely to experience pyometra later in life. It’s important to monitor these dogs for any possible signs of recurring infections.

Sometimes, pyometra can be mistaken for an allergic reaction to something, or the effects of old age or even just random changes in hormonal cycles. A veterinarian should be consulted immediately if you feel your dog may have this condition.

There are several steps you can take to prevent your dog from experiencing pyometra. Your veterinarian can give you helpful tips on how to keep your dog safe and ensure that she does not have this condition.

These include:

– Obtaining spaying surgery for your dog. This is the best way to prevent pyometra and uterine infections in general.

Unless you plan on having puppies in the future, it’s best to get your dog spayed as soon as possible. It is a common misconception that your dog will become fat and lazy if you have her spayed; this is far from the truth.

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– Keep your dog healthy. Obesity is a big risk factor for developing pyometra.

If your dog is obese, help her lose weight in a safe and healthy manner. Feed her nutritious meals that are appropriate for her age and activity level. Make sure she gets plenty of exercise as well.

– Watch for any signs of discomfort. If you notice your dog having an unusual discharge from her genitals or a bloated stomach, take her to the veterinarian right away.

It’s best to get your dog treatment as soon as possible after the first signs of infection appear.

– If your female dog experiences a miscarriage, make sure she is examined immediately after the incident. The presence of the placenta inside the uterus can cause uterine contractions which could lead to pyometra.

– Inform family members and friends that your dog has experienced a miscarriage or pyometra. The bacteria present during these infections can live on surfaces such as carpets and bedding for up to 48 hours.

– Bathing your dog after a potential exposure to pyometra bacteria is not recommended. It can actually increase her risk of developing an infection.

If your dog experiences a miscarriage or the rare “accident”, it’s best to simply wash the area with mild soap and water then rinse, followed by a full chamge of the bedding and surrounding carpet.

– Avoid allowing your dog to roam. Having unrestricted access to roam can lead to many unfortunate encounters that could put your dog at risk.

Keeping her on a leash when outside can help reduce the risk of contracting diseases or even getting into accidents.

– Quarantine any additions to your family immediately. Dogs that come from pet stores, online ads or even the homes of friends and family members can easily carry diseases and parasites that can put your dog at risk.

Ask your veterinarian about the best way to keep your new addition safe until they’ve been cleared as safe for your other dogs.

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– Limit your dog’s access to unclean food or water. Leaving bowls of food and water out can attract other animals that may have disease or even hitchhiking fleas and ticks that could cause a serious health threat.

– Be sure to get your dog regularly groomed. Grooming, including regular clipping of the fur between the legs can keep dirt and bacteria from collecting and limit the risk of infection.

– Know the signs and symptoms of pyometra. If you’re knowledgeable about the risks and common symptoms, you can better assist your veterinarian in making a prompt diagnosis.

– Have your dog spayed. Spaying your female dog is an effective way to reduce her risk of developing pyometra by eliminating her hormonal cycles.

– Take your dog to the veterinarian on a yearly basis for an exam. Yearly checkups can help catch potential health concerns before they become serious issues.

– If you’re not able to pay for a veterinary exam, call around to see if there are any low-cost spay and neuter programs in your area. Some veterinarians even offer free exams for homeless or rescue animals.

With a little care and attention you can keep your dog from having a potentially deadly health condition. Stay alert for any changes in her physical or behavioral condition and be sure to visit your veterinarian on a yearly basis to ensure your dog’s good health.

Dogs are known for their dedication and loyalty and yours will certainly return the favor by remaining at your side throughout her lifetime.

How much does pyometra surgery cost?

Many people ask the question how much does pyometra surgery cost. The correct answer is that it varies depending upon your dogs condition. A spayed female dog is more likely to develop pyometra than a non-spayed female dog. A spayed dog generally has a lower risk of pyometra than an intact female dog.

Is having a dog spayed (or neutered) just like having a human child fixed?

Yes and no. Dogs do have a few physical differences than that of human beings so the surgery is different in some ways. As a general rule though, the surgery is pretty similar. During the surgery the reproductive organs are removed and there is little to no blood loss. Most dogs experience little to no pain after the procedure as well since none of their organs are affected during the procedure.

How old does my dog have to be before the surgery?

As a general rule most dogs should be at least 6 months old before undergoing the surgery. Dogs under 6 months of age do not have mature reproductive organs and will not gain any preventative value from the surgery. Breeds that are known for having visible genitalia when they are under six months of age should not undergo the surgery until their genitals have matured.

Also, very young dogs that undergo anesthesia are at higher risk of developing respiratory complications when they are older.

How is the surgery performed?

The surgery takes between 30 minutes and an hour. The surgeon will make a small (2-4 inch) incision in the middle of your dog’s underside, just above the genitals and above the pubic bone. The reproductive organs are then located and removed. Because the incision is higher on the abdomen, it can be hard for dogs to reach the wound with their tongue to lick or bite at it.

A common myth that many people believe is that spayed female dogs become overweight. Female dogs do not actually have large amounts of hormones that lead to weight gain the way that humans do.

Female dogs can become overweight for many other reasons unrelated to their reproductive organs.

Does my dog need to stay overnight?

Some veterinarians recommend keeping your dog at the clinic for one to two nights following surgery. This allows the veterinarian to monitor your pet more closely for signs of complications. It also gives them time to answer any questions you may have about the surgery and your pet’s general health.

You may also choose to have your pet sent home the same day as the surgery. Because the surgery is so common, veterinarians have had lots of experience in dealing with any potential complications that may arise.

How soon can I play with my dog after surgery?

Most dogs can resume their normal activities as soon as you get home. You should keep them calm and monitored for the first twenty-four hours following the surgery. Keeping them inside and away from other dogs for the first day is a good idea as well.

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If your pet is fussy, be sure to contact your veterinarian, especially if excessive bleeding occurred during or after the surgery.

Does my dog need to be walked after surgery?

Most veterinarians recommend keeping your pet confined to a small area (such as a porch) until their incision has healed. Keeping your pet calm and quiet will allow the skin to heal properly.

Your veterinarian may give you a short leash to allow your dog some movement while keeping the incision area stationary.

Some owners choose to keep their dogs indoors only after the surgery, as even walking up and down stairs can be painful for dogs that are just recovering from surgery.

What happens if my pet starts licking at its stitches?

Dogs tend to lick at their wounds so this is a very common concern for pet owners. If you see your pet licking at its incision, you can apply a non-sticky gauze pad (such as a Band-Aid) soaked in bitter tasting solution to the wound to prevent it from licking.

Alternatively, putting Vicks VapoRub on the wound will also prevent most dogs from licking at it.

You should not let your pet chew at its stitches or incision, as this may cause the wound to tear and could potentially cause a life-threatening infection.

If your dog starts chewing at its incision, you should contact your veterinarian right away.

What complications can occur?

Complications that can occur include hair loss at the incision site or other areas, infection, and excessive bleeding. If your dog starts chewing at its stitches, you may have a complication involving excessive bleeding.

If you think you see signs of excessive bleeding or other issues, contact your veterinarian right away.

If your dog swallows some of the stitches, this could lead to an intestinal problem. This is a serious situation and needs to be dealt with immediately.

If you notice signs of pain, excessive bleeding, or other issues after your pet’s surgery, contact your veterinarian immediately. They will know how to proceed in such a case.

When can I return my dog to the veterinarian?

Your veterinarian may tell you to return in one week following the surgery for a check-up. They will examine your pet’s incision and make sure that it is healing properly.

In addition, they may instruct you to bring your pet back within the first couple of days if excessive bleeding occurs.

If your dog begins behaving abnormally, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible in case further treatment or medication is necessary.

Where can I learn more about spaying or neutering my pet?

Your veterinarian is a great resource for questions about your pet’s surgery and recovery.

In addition, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) provides a list of questions to ask your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your pet on their website.

Finally, the ASPCA provides detailed information on spaying and neutering your pet on their website.

Is there anything else I should know?

There are many charities, low-cost clinics, and government programs that provide assistance for pet care, including spaying and neutering. Visit ASPCA’s website to learn more.

Your pet may be eligible to be spayed or neutered for free or at a very low cost. Visit the Humane Society’s website to search for low-cost clinics in your area.

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Your pet will need to remain confined for at least a few days after surgery. Confining your pet prevents them from chewing or otherwise irritating their incision.

You can keep your pet in a dog kennel, pet carrier, or some other type of confined area. Alternatively, you can construct a small pen using PVC piping or some other material.

A long length of plastic wrap can be used to wrap your pet’s body and prevent them from licking or otherwise irritating their incision.

Check your pet’s incision daily for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or heat. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Ask your veterinarian about which types of food, if any, you should avoid until your pet’s surgery incision has healed.

Spaying and neutering is an important step in reducing the number of homeless pets in America. As an added bonus, it has numerous health benefits for your pet.

Spaying or neutering also helps keep your pet from engaging in the types of behavior that can lead to a whole host of problems.

Spaying and neutering can help reduce your pet’s tendency to roam from home, marking their territory, and fighting with other animals.

Spaying and neutering can reduce or eliminate the risk of your pet developing certain types of cancer or other diseases later in life.

Spaying and neutering can eliminate the need for certain medical procedures later in life, such as a hysterectomy for female pets and a vasectomy for male pets.

Spaying and neutering can result in behavioral changes that owners will find to be beneficial. For example, spaying and neutering can reduce or eliminate hypersexuality in males (humping anything and everything) and prevent females from coming into heat.

Spaying and neutering reduces the chances of your pet contributing to the problem of overpopulation.

Labrador health:  Pyometra – how to make sure your dog is safe - Picture

Spaying and neutering can improve your pet’s health, which can in turn reduce the cost of medical care over the long term.

Spaying and neutering improves your pet’s quality of life.Spaying and neutering can result in a decrease in certain types of undesirable behaviors.

For example, certain male cats that have been neutered do not feel the need to spray in your home, and female cats that have been spayed do not go into heat anymore. These types of behaviors are more likely resulting in your pet getting into trouble or even abandoned at a shelter for annoying the owner too much.

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