Alice looked in an awful state as she staggered into my consulting room. She hadn’t eaten for 2 days and although she had been drinking lots of water she had been vomiting it all back up again. She was so lethargic she could hardly raise her head enough to look at me with her large doleful spaniel eyes. My examination soon revealed the cause of the problem. She had a swollen tummy in which I could feel a large swollen uterus. This was full of pus and the poisons from this were spreading into Alice’s blood stream and making her extremely ill. Poor Alice was lucky to survive. She had to undergo emergency surgery to remove her womb that was close to rupturing. Another hour or two and it may have been too late. She drifted in and out of consciousness for a few hours before she started to recover and then had to stay in the surgery for 2 days on a drip before finally being able to go home. This was a condition called pyometra, which is surprisingly common in older un-neutered bitches, and as with Alice can lead to them becoming very unwell or even dying.
This is just one of many problems that can be prevented by having your bitch neutered (speyed). Others include mammary (breast) tumours, some types of diabetes and unwanted pregnancies. Most Veterinary Surgeons now perform this operation before the bitch has a season at about six months of age. However there are a few breeds where it is recommended to let your bitch have one season before the operation is performed. Of course if you do decide to breed from your bitch the operation can still be done at a later stage. However the fewer seasons the bitch has, the less likely it is to get cancer later, so, generally, the earlier it is neutered the better.
The operation involves a general anaesthetic and removal of the reproductive organs (ovaries and uterus). This is a routine operation with little chance of any complications especially in young, lean bitches. Your pet is normally ready to go home the same day the operation is performed. She may be a little subdued for a few days but will be soon charging around again as if nothing had been done.
So don’t let your pet become unwell like Alice. If you have a young bitch, talk to your Veterinary Surgeon now about having it speyed. Then it will be far less likely to become ill later in life!
Jon C Power BVSc certAVP(vetGP) MRCVS; Email: [email protected]