Your dog having to undergo surgery is scary. Anesthesia is scary. No matter the veterinary advancements, you will always worry about your dog having to go under; I do. There is always some degree of risk. With age, the risk does increase.
Risk versus reward assessment
Every time I’m making a medical decision for my dog, I do my best to arrive at a comprehensive risk versus reward assessment. What are the options? What will happen if I go ahead with one of them? What will happen if I do nothing?
Sometimes there is enough good data to mull over, sometimes there isn’t. In the case of pyometra, though, there is.
Pyometra is a serious and frequently life-threatening bacterial infection of the uterus. The infection is secondary to hormonal changes during estrus. It requires quick and aggressive treatment if the dog is to survive. Dr. Ward’s article is the best explanation of pyometra I have read.
The symptoms depend on the stage and type of pyometra. It can start by a dog acting a little off:
- picking at their food
- and drinking more than usual
If this happens to your intact female dog any time between two to eight weeks after the last estrus, take it seriously.
Later stage symptoms include fever, lethargy and weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, excessive panting, and excessive drinking.
Luna was diagnosed with pyometra, and the veterinarian strongly recommended surgery.
Luna’s parents were very concerned about her. She is 12 years old. What if she didn’t survive the surgery? Was it inevitable that she’d die?
The other way one ought to look at it, though, is whether or not she could survive the pyometra. Luna had what is referred to as closed-cervix pyometra. Which means that not only there is a massive infection, but the pus is not draining. The success rate of medical treatment of this type is only about 25-40%. Further, even with successful treatment, it is likely to re-occur.
Luna’s chances were better with surgery than without it.
There are steps that can be taken to make her anesthesia as safe as possible. A comprehensive pre-anesthesia work-up, protocol choice and dosage, careful monitoring during and after … all these things make it safer.
In spite of their worry, Luna’s parents eventually decided to go through with the surgery. Waiting to hear how things went while Luna was in for the operation was excruciating. But finally, the phone call came, telling them that Luna made it through the surgery.
They have removed 2 kg of an infected uterus; Luna is a small dog.
Two days later, Luna was released to home care. She was still in a bit of rough shape but started eating and could stand and walk on her own with a bit of support.
Luna’s parents feared the worst. They could have lost her one way or another. But Luna is now recovering and already looks much better than before the surgery.