Welcome to Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital, and congratulations on your new pet! The veterinarians and staff of our clinic are dedicated to providing compassionate, thoughtful veterinary care for you and your pets, and we encourage owners to be proactive in the care of their beloved furry family members! We believe preventative medicine is the best way to ensure a long, healthy and happy life for your pet, and the contents of this folder introduce you to the vaccines that we recommend for dogs, several of the internal and external parasites that affect dogs, and descriptions of the spay/neuter procedures we recommend for all dogs. Our veterinarians and technicians are ready to help answer questions or concerns that may arise as you care for your new friend, so please contact us with any concerns, and welcome to Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital.
Services available at Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital:
• Annual Physical Examinations and vaccinations
• Sick pet appointments
• Routine surgeries, including spay (ovariohysterectomy) and neuter (orchiectomy)
• Non-routine surgery
• In house laboratory and specialty laboratories
• Radiology (x-ray)
• Dental Services
• Geriatric Health Screening
• Nutritional Counseling
• Hospitalized care
• Website: www.watkinsglenveterinaryhospital.com with online pharmacy
The following pages outline the vaccines that are recommend by the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines, and describe the diseases the vaccines are intended to prevent. Also included are a description of common internal and external parasites of dogs, including some common questions and answers, and a description of the spay and neuter procedures.
Generally, puppies are vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until between the age of 14-16 weeks.
*Vaccination for Lymes and Leptosporosis are administered based on a determination of the individual puppy's exposure risk for those diseases.
Puppies orphaned or not nursed should start vaccinations at 6 weeks.
Dogs older than 16 weeks should receive two DHPP vaccines, 3-4 weeks apart.
Vaccinations should be boosted at 1 year of age, then vaccinated every 3 years.
Dogs and puppies must complete the vaccination protocol prior to elective surgery.
Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital recommends vaccination for:
Core Vaccines are those vaccines which every dog should receive, regardless of lifestyle and exposure to other dogs. These include rabies, distemper and parvovirus. These are given as a series of vaccinations as a puppy (or, in the case of rabies, as a single dose), then an adult booster a year later. The rabies vaccine is then given every 3 years. (This interval is mandated by state law). Although the distemper/parvovirus vaccine is labeled to be given every year to adult dogs, evidence now supports that the protection lasts longer. The current recommendation for adult dogs is a distemper/parvovirus booster every 3 years after the first adult booster.
Rabies is an acute viral infection that affects the central nervous system of mammals. It is shed in saliva and typically transmitted by a bite from a rabies infected animal. The incubation period, the period between exposure to the disease and onset of symptoms, ranges from two weeks to two months. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms occur. These symptoms may include behavior changes, like unusual aggressiveness, or paralysis of the hindquarters and throat. Rabies is widespread in raccoons in New York State, but is also seen in bats, foxes, skunks and other mammals. Up-to-date vaccinations in dogs and cats can protect these animals against the disease. New York State law mandates that all dogs and cats are current for Rabies vaccination.
Canine distemper is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease that is seen in dogs worldwide. Though its incidence has diminished greatly due to vaccination, distemper cases and outbreaks are still seen sporadically.
Canine distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus. This virus can also infect several other species including ferrets and wild animals such as coyotes, foxes, wolves, skunks, and raccoons. Animals usually become infected by direct contact with virus particles from the secretions of other infected animals (generally via inhalation). Indirect transmission (i.e., carried on dishes or other objects) is not common because the virus does not survive for long in the environment. The virus can be shed by dogs for several weeks after recovery.
Puppies under four months of age (before vaccinations are fully protective) and unvaccinated dogs are most at risk. Because canine distemper also occurs in wild animals, contact with wild animals may contribute to the spread of distemper to domestic dogs.
Signs and Symptoms of Distemper
Canine distemper causes symptoms in multiple body systems, including the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and the brain and spinal cord. The appearance of symptoms and course of distemper can be variable, ranging from very mild illness to fatal disease. Any of the following can be seen:
• fever (often one episode a few days after infection that may not be noticed, followed by a second episode a few days later when the other symptoms begin to show up)
• discharge from the eyes and nose
• loss of appetite
• vomiting and diarrhea
• labored breathing
• hardening of footpads and nose (distemper has sometimes been called hardpad disease)
• inflammation of various parts of the eye
• secondary bacterial infections
• neurological symptoms are variable
Neurological symptoms of distemper may not develop at all or develop later in the disease (sometimes even after several weeks). Neurological symptoms of distemper may include any of the following:
• muscle twitching
• weakness or paralysis
• seizures (of any part of the body, but seizures that look as if the dog is chewing gum are unique to distemper)
• uncoordinated movements
• increased sensitivity to touch or pain
Diagnosis of Distemper
Diagnosis is based primarily on the history and clinical signs. Because signs are variable and may take time to appear, and secondary infections are common, diagnosis can be complicated. Additionally, other infections can produce similar signs to distemper. A variety of laboratory tests can help confirm the diagnosis (and some may be done to rule out other infections).
Treatment of Distemper
There is no treatment specific to the distemper virus, so treatment involves managing the various symptoms and secondary infections. Even with treatment, distemper can be fatal. Treatment depends on the symptoms shown, and may include fluids to combat dehydration, medication to reduce vomiting, antibiotics and other medications to treat pneumonia, antibiotics for secondary infections, and anticonvulsants to treat seizures. Neurological symptoms may get progressively worse and not respond to treatment, and even with recovery some neurological effects may persist.
Prevention of Distemper
Vaccination is effective at preventing distemper. Puppies are typically vaccinated starting at 6 weeks of age and at regular intervals (every 2-4 weeks) until they are 14-16 weeks old (as with other vaccines, presence of antibodies received from the mother can interfere with vaccines so a puppy is not considered fully protected until the final vaccine in the series has been given). Vaccination should be repeated a year later, then at regular intervals. Your vet will discuss an appropriate vaccination schedule for your dog based on your dog's history and risk factors.
Until puppies have received all the vaccinations in the series (at 14-16 weeks) it is prudent to be careful about exposing them to unknown dogs (e.g., at dog parks) to avoid exposure to the virus as much as possible.
Parvovirus is a common and potentially serious viral disease in dogs. The disease caused by this virus is commonly referred to as Parvo. The virus first appeared clinically in 1978, and there was a widespread epidemic in dogs of all ages. Since no dogs had been exposed or vaccinated (the vaccine didn't exist at the time), dogs of all ages died from the infection. The virus can "adapt" over time, and other strains of the virus have appeared since then, but properly administered vaccinations are the best protection..
What are the signs seen with Parvovirus infection?
There are three main manifestations of Parvovirus infection:
• Asymptomatic - No signs seen. Common in dogs over 1 year old and vaccinated dogs.
• Intestinal - This virus causes extreme damage to the intestinal tract, causing sloughing of the cells that line the tract. This can leave the patient open to secondary bacterial infection. Most of the affected dogs (85%) are less than one year old and between 6-20 weeks old -- before the full set of vaccinations can be given. The death rate from infection is reported to be 16-35% in this age group.*
• Cardiac - This form of the disease is much less common than the intestinal form due to widespread vaccination. Severe inflammation and necrosis (cell death), of the heart muscle causes breathing difficulty and death in very young (less than 8 weeks of age) puppies. Older dogs that survive this form have scarring in the heart muscle.
The intestinal signs include:
• Loss of appetite
• Diarrhea - usually bloody, and very foul-smelling (a characteristic odor, particular to Parvovirus infection)
The onset of clinical signs is usually sudden, often 12 hours or less. The incubation from exposure to seeing the clinical signs varies from 3 to 10 days.
How is Parvovirus infection diagnosed?
This disease is diagnosed by physical examination, signalment (age, vaccination status, breed, etc.), and a fecal Parvo (ELISA) test. Additional diagnostics include blood work and radiographs. Dogs infected with Parvo typically have a low white count. Radiographs help rule out other potential causes for vomiting and diarrhea.
Non-Core Vaccines are those vaccines which may or may not be necessary since the diseases they prevent occur sporadically, are more common in specific circumstances, or are new or "emerging" diseases. These vaccines are available and can be given based on your dog's risk.
Lyme Vaccine: Schuyler County is now considered an endemic area for ticks carrying Borrellia burgdorferii, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. Any dog that may be exposed to ticks is at risk, as the ticks transmit the bacteria during feeding. Rural dogs as well as suburban dogs may come into contact with the deer tick. While effective tick control remains the cornerstone for reducing the risk of all tick-borne diseases, you may elect to reduce the risk further by having your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease. This is given as a series of two vaccines, given 2-4 weeks apart, then an annual booster. Before starting this series, we will test your dog for Lyme disease with the 4DX Heartworm test.
Bordatella or "kennel cough" Vaccine: This vaccine helps protect dogs against some forms of contagious bronchitis, and is recommended for dogs that stay in boarding facilities, go regularly to groomers, visit dog parks, attend dog shows or obedience classes, or frequently contact large numbers of dogs.
Leptospirosis: This disease occurs sporadically in the United States, usually in the summer or fall, and is caused by various strains (serovars) of a bacteria. Infected dogs often have a fever, do not eat well, may vomit, and may suffer liver and kidney damage. This disease, even when treated, can be fatal. Infected dogs shed the bacteria in their urine, and humans can become infected by contact with contaminated ground water, soil, or animal urine. Some serovars are carried by raccoons or skunks, which means the disease is becoming more problematic in suburban areas. Other serovars are harbored by farm animals, deer and mice, and are therefore more common in rural areas. Currently, the recommended vaccine contains four serovars and is boostered every year after an initial series of two vaccines, 2-4 weeks apart. This was often a part of the old "distemper shot", so most adult dogs will only need to continue with this annual booster. The newer vaccine has a lower risk of side effects than previous Leptospirosis vaccines. This disease can be passed on to people ("zoonotic") and the disease can be found sporadically in our area. However, the vaccine may not give complete protection and cannot protect against all strains. Although rare, toy breed dogs may be more likely to have an allergic reaction to this vaccine. If you have a toy breed dog, please discuss the risks with the doctor or technician to decide if we should elect not to do this vaccine. If your dog (of any size) has had a previous reaction to this vaccine, this vaccine will not be given.
Risks of vaccination: in general, vaccines may cause localized pain or swelling, low grade transient fever, allergic reactions such as swelling of lips and eyelids, and mild lethargy. With any vaccine, anaphylaxis (a potentially fatal hypersensitivity reaction) may occur. While there is no direct cause and effect relationship between vaccinations and certain immune-mediated diseases, this continues to be investigated. Overall, the risk of any reaction is quite small compared to the risk of the diseases the vaccines protect against.
Heartworm in Dogs
What are heartworms?
Heartworms are large worms that live in the hearts of dogs and cats. They are also found in other species, including ferrets, foxes, wolves, sea lions, and horses. Dogs are the common host for this parasite. This worm is also known as Dirofilaria immitis. It is a long, spaghetti-like worm that can be anywhere from 6 to 10 inches in length (~17 - 27 cm).
How are heartworms transmitted?
In addition to the animal host, heartworms need a mosquito to complete their life cycle.
1. A mosquito bites a heartworm-infected animal.
2. The mosquito is then carrying microscopic versions of the heartworm, called microfilariae.
3. When the mosquito bites another dog, that animal is now infected with the heartworm microfilariae.
4. Within 70 to 90 days, the microfilariae have made it through the tissues to the animal's heart, where they reproduce (providing both male and female worms are present) and live for several years. If both sexes of worms are present, they will be producing their own little microfilariae within 6 - 7 months after that mosquito bite.
5. The cycle continues.
What are the signs of heartworm disease?
The signs vary according to number of worms present, stage of life cycle, age and species of host. The heartworms live primarily in the right side of the heart and lung, and can cause significant damage and even death. Here are some general signs for the most common hosts, dogs.
Possible heartworm signs:
Acute disease - usually no clinical signs (the dog just acquired the disease)
Mild to moderate - cough, reluctance/inability to exercise
Severe - marked shortness of breath, coughing, fainting episodes, weight loss, fever, abdominal swelling (ascites) death.
Could my dog be at risk?
Yes, depending on your geographic location. Heartworm disease is now worldwide, and mosquitoes are too.
Diagnosis is most commonly done by a blood test in your veterinarian's office. Additionally, x-ray, ultrasound, or other tests may be performed.
Treatment for heartworm is not without some risk. Bloods tests are used to assess kidney and liver function before initiating treatment. The worms are killed slowly, so as not to cause a sudden blockage in the heart or lungs, and the patient must be kept quiet. The next phase is medication to kill the remaining microfilariae.
Your veterinarian will first test your pet and find the heartworm status to be negative. You can then begin heartworm prevention. Annual re-testing is recommended. Prevention is in the form of a chewable monthly tablet, given in the summer months or year round, depending on the climate where you live. The most commonly prescribed oral heartworm preventatives are: Heartgard, Interceptor, and Program.
Roundworms in Dogs
Roundworms are intestinal parasites that are common in dogs. There are two species of roundworms that infect dogs, one of which can cause health problems in humans, too. Roundworms are round, up to seven inches long, and white to pale brown in color (they look a little like spaghetti noodles). They hang out in the intestines, soaking up nutrients from the dog's diet. The medical term for infection with roundworms is ascariasis.
The Roundworm Life Cycle
• common, especially in puppies
• larvae can infect humans
• complex life cycle
Toxocara canis worms can infect dogs a number of ways
• puppies can be infected with larvae while still in their mother's uterus (a very common route of infection for puppies)
• puppies can ingest larvae through their mother's milk.
• ingesting eggs (which hatch into larvae after being eaten)
• eating rodents that have been infected with the larvae
In puppies, the larvae (including those that are swallowed and ingested as eggs which then hatch) migrate through the body tissues. Eventually reaching the lungs, they make their way up the windpipe, and are coughed up, then swallowed. Once swallowed this time, the larvae then become adult roundworms in the intestines. These produce numerous eggs, which are passed in the feces. Eggs only become infective after a week or two in the environment.
In adult dogs, the situation is usually different: after ingestion, the larvae migrate through the intestinal wall and into other tissues in the body, where they enter a dormant state. In a pregnant female, the larvae become active again, and the larvae can cross the placenta into the pups, and be secreted in the milk after birth. They can also produce an active adult roundworm infection in the mom's intestines, so she then sheds numerous eggs that can also infect the pups. T. canis roundworms have a life cycle that makes them very effective at infecting puppies.
• less common
• more often seen in older dogs
• usually do not infect humans
• also seen in cats
Toxascaris leonina has a much more straightforward life cycle. The eggs are shed in the feces, and once ingested they develop into adult roundworms in the intestines (no migration required) that eventually shed more eggs. The eggs are only infective after several days in the environment. Rodents can also become infected with T. Leonina, and dog can become infected from eating an infected rodent.
Signs and Symptoms of Roundworm Infestation
Roundworms (both types) can produce any of the following symptoms, though symptoms may only appear with heavy infections:
-puppies will sometime vomit up roundworms or pass them in their feces
-failure to gain weight, or weight loss
-dull hair coat
-sometimes coughing due to the larval migration through the lungs
Rarely, very heavy infections can lead to blockage of the intestines, which will make a puppy very ill (vomiting, lethargy).
Diagnosis of Roundworms
The eggs of roundworms are detected under the microscope in a routine check of a stool sample (the test process is called fecal flotation). It is possible to tell the difference between the species of roundworm based on the appearance of their eggs. Of course, when roundworms appear in vomit or stool, the diagnosis is pretty clear!
Treatment is the same, regardless of the species. There are a number of medications that can be used to treat roundworms, and your vet can help you pick the one right for your dog. Medications will only affect adult roundworms, however, so need to be repeated to deal with any residual larvae as they mature (e.g. at 2 week intervals). The number of treatments necessary will depend on the age of the dog and the situation, and will be recommended by your vet. If you have a pregnant dog, consult your vet for advice on deworming the mom and pups. Once dewormed, many of the monthly medications designed for parasite control contain medication that will prevent roundworm infections on an ongoing basis -- options that can be discussed with your vet. If your dog is not on one of these preventatives, your vet will recommend a regular deworming protocol to keep roundworms at bay.
Keeping pet wastes picked up, and preventing pets from eating rodents can also help prevent infection with worms.
People and Dog Roundworms
The larvae of Toxocara canis roundworms can infect people as well as dogs. This happens when eggs are ingested, and is most common in children who may not practice the best hygiene, and may pick up eggs on their hands when playing in the yard, for example. Good hygiene is important, both in terms of hand washing practices and keeping pet waste picked up.
The larvae don't develop into adult roundworms in people, but the larvae migrating through the tissues can cause inflammation, especially in young children. Most cases are not serious, but in serious cases, organ damage is possible as result of the migrating larvae (e.g., liver, lung, brain) and sometimes the larvae can reach the eyes, leading to visual disturbances and possibly blindness. Migration of roundworm larvae through human tissues is called "visceral larva migrans" while migration to the eyes is called "ocular larva migrans." Proper prevention of roundworm infection is important to prevent these human health problems.
Tapeworms in Dogs
Tapeworms are commonly diagnosed in dogs and cats. They are one of the more common intestinal parasites seen in the canine and feline species. People also can get tapeworms but they do not typically get them from infected dogs and cats.
There are two types of tapeworms that may be seen in dogs and cats. By far, the most commonly seen is what is referred to as the common tapeworm or Dipylidium caninum. Dogs and cats become infected with this parasite when they swallow a flea, which frequently happens when flea-infested pets groom themselves.
The other type of tapeworm seen in dogs and cats is called Taenia. There are several species of Taenia which normally infect very specific species. For instance, there are species that infect rats and mice. Dogs and cats can get them by eating rats and mice that are infected. There are other species that infect rabbits and dogs can become infected from ingesting an infected rabbit.
Tapeworms in People
Though technically people can become infected with Dipylidium caninum, it requires ingestion of a flea. That is not a common scenario and infection with Dipylidium caninum in people is not typically a huge problem.
Taenia on the other hand is a different story. There are several species of Taenia that can infect people. They can in fact produce disease ranging from mild to serious. People can become infected with Taenia by eating pork, beef, venison or other meats infected with Taenia. Infection can also occur by drinking water contaminated with Taenia. These infections are most common in areas where sanitation is substandard.
Prevent Tapeworms in Pets and People
You can protect yourself and your family from tapeworm infection by always cooking meat thoroughly before serving. Practice good personal hygiene such as washing your hands frequently. Be cautious of drinking from potentially contaminated water supplies. When in doubt, drink bottled water.
Pets can be protected from tapeworm infection by discouraging them from hunting, using effective flea control and not feeding uncooked meat.
Hookworms in Dogs
Hookworms are intestinal parasites that are common in dogs. There are three species of hookworms that affect dogs, and some can also affect humans by migrating through the skin. Hookworms are small, thin worms that are less than an inch long. The appearance of the mouth parts vary by species, but all hookworms have structures (hook-like teeth or plates) to help them attach to the intestinal wall. Unlike roundworms, which just float around and steal nutrients from the dog's meals, hookworms attach to the intestinal wall and feed on blood and/or tissues. They can detach and move to other spots, leaving little ulcers where they have fed previously.
The severity of symptoms varies between the hookworm species and most infections are not life-threatening, but and one species of hookworm, Ancylostoma caninum can cause fatal blood loss in puppies.
The Hookworm Life Cycle
Hookworm eggs are passed in the feces, and under warm, moist conditions hatch into larvae after several days. These larvae have several ways they can infect dogs:
• they can be ingested directly, as when dogs lick the ground or groom themselves when larvae are present on their fur
• they can migrate through the skin, usually through the belly or paws
• they can be ingested by another animal such as a rodent, and then ingested by a dog that eats that infected animal
• puppies can also be infected by larvae present in the mom's milk
Once the hookworm larvae get into a dog, they may develop into adults in the intestines or migrate through the tissues to the lungs, from where they are coughed up and swallowed, and then finally develop into adults in the intestines. In older dogs, migrating hookworm larvae commonly enter a dormant state within in body tissues, and can become mobile again later.
The larvae commonly become mobilized during pregnancy, where they can either go to the mammary glands (for some kinds of hookworms), or develop into adults in the mom's intestines, producing eggs which act as a source for infection of puppies. It is easy to see why hookworm infections are common in puppies!
Signs and Symptoms of Hookworm Infestation
Hookworms can produce any of the following symptoms, though symptoms may only appear with heavy infections:
• failure to gain weight, or weight loss
• loss of appetite
• anemia (pale gums, weakness) sometimes seen, and can be a cause of death in puppies
• bloody or tarry stools may be present
• sometimes coughing can occur due to the larval migration through the lungs (with very heavy infections)
• skin irritation, most often on the feet between the toes, due to migrating larvae
The severity of disease depends on the species of hookworm involved, as well as the number of worms and the age and health of the infected dog.
Diagnosis of Hookworms
The eggs of hookworms can be detected under the microscope in a routine check of a stool sample (the test process is called fecal flotation). It takes a while for infected puppies to shed eggs, so routine deworming of puppies is recommended.
Treatment is the same, regardless of the species. There are a number of medications that can be used to treat hookworms, and your vet can help you pick the one right for your dog. Medications will only affect hookworms in the intestines, not migrating larvae. Treatment should be repeated to deal with larvae as they mature (e.g. at 2 week intervals). The number of treatments necessary will depend on the age of the dog and the situation, and will be recommended by your vet.
If you have a pregnant dog, consult your vet for a deworming protocol for both the mom and pups. Once dewormed, many of the monthly medications designed for parasite control contain medication that will prevent hookworm infections on an ongoing basis -- options that can be discussed with your vet. If your dog is not on one of these preventatives, your vet will recommend a regular deworming protocol to keep hookworms at bay.
Keeping pet wastes picked up, and preventing pets from eating rodents can also help prevent infection with worms.
People and Dog Hookworms
The larvae of hookworms can infect people as well as dogs. This happens when eggs are ingested, and The larvae usually don't develop into adult Hookworms in people, but the larvae migrating through the skin can cause irritation and inflammation, though most cases are not serious. Migration of hookworm larvae through human skin is called "cutaneous larva migrans." Recently, there have been a few cases reported where one kind of hookworm took up residence in the intestines of humans, as well.
Proper treatment and prevention of hookworm infections is important to prevent these human health concerns, as is good hygiene. Keeping pet waste picked up, especially in areas where children or other people contact the ground (e.g. sandboxes) is also helpful in preventing human cases.
Spaying or Neutering Your New Puppy
Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital recommends that all female puppies be spayed (ovariohysterectomy) and all male puppies be neutered (orchiectomy).
At Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital we make every effort to ensure the safety of your pet during anesthesia and surgery. We recommend pre-operative blood tests that provide insight into your puppy's health and enable us to screen for pre-existing disorders that may be undetectable on routine physical examination. These tests may be performed in our clinic prior to or on the day of surgery. During surgery your pet is placed on a thermal blanket to support body temperature, and a technician monitors your pet with a pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor, thermal blanket and EKG to ensure their safety while under general anesthesia.
Female Canine Spay (Ovariohysterectomy)
Surgical sterilization of the female dog (ovariohysterectomy), commonly referred to as spaying, is one of the most significant aspects of female dog care an owner can provide. The benefits to the dog FAR outweigh simply not having puppies, though as pet over-populations looms as a societal problem it is important to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Spaying involves removal of the uterus and ovaries. It is a major surgery but a commonly performed one, ideally performed while a female dog is still in puppyhood, prior to her first heat cycle.
WHY FEMALE DOGS SHOULD BE SPAYED
1. Mammary Cancer Prevention
A female dog spayed before her first heat will have a near zero chance of developing mammary cancer.
After the first heat, this incidence climbs to 7% and after the second heat the risk is 25% (one in four!). It is easy to see that an early spay can completely prevent what is frequently a very difficult and potentially fatal form of cancer.
But is it too late if a dog is already past her second heat? No, in fact spaying is important even in female dogs that already have obvious tumors. This is because many mammary tumors are stimulated by estrogens; removing the ovaries, the source of estrogens, will help retard tumor spread.
Spaying removes both the uterus and both ovaries and is crucial in the prevention as well as the treatment of mammary cancer.
2. Pyometra Prevention
Pyometra is the life-threatening infection of the uterus that generally occurs in middle-aged to older female dogs in the six weeks following heat. The hormone progesterone, which primes the uterus for potential pregnancy, does so by causing proliferation of the blood-filled uterine lining and suppressing uterine immune function. It is thus easy during heat for bacteria in the vagina to ascend to the uterus and cause infection. The uterus with pyometra swells dramatically and is filled with pus, bacteria, dying tissue, and toxins. Without treatment, the dog is expected to die. Despite her serious medical state, she must be spayed quickly if her life is to be saved.
• This is an extremely common disease of unspayed female dogs.
• Without treatment the dog will die.
• Treatment is expensive.
• Treatment involves surgery in a potentially unstable patient.
• Spaying prevents the whole thing.
The older unspayed female dog has an irregular heat cycle. There is no end of cycling comparable to human menopause. If you still decide against spaying, be familiar with the signs of pyometra, which include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, excessive thirst, marked vaginal discharge.
3. Simple Convenience
The female dog comes into heat every 8 months or so. There is a bloody vaginal discharge and local male dogs are attracted. Often there is an offensive odor.
All of this Disappears with Spaying
What is done during the spay surgery?
It is important that the patient has not been fed in at least 8 hours. Anesthetic medications commonly induce nausea and vomiting can be dangerous in a sedated patient (vomit can be inhaled/aspirated leading to pneumonia).
A preoperative evaluation is performed; blood work is recommended for older females and may be recommended as a normal preanesthetic consideration. An intravenous catheter may be placed to facilitate the administration of anesthetic drugs, for any fluid administration, and for use in case of emergency. This necessitates shaving a small patch of skin on one of the legs.
A tranquilizer or other pre-anesthetic medication may be administered to ease the induction of anesthesia.
A medication is given intravenously to induce sleep. This medication is called an induction agent and lasts only long enough to establish the maintenance of anesthesia by the inhalant anesthetic (gas). Once the dog is asleep, a tube is placed in her throat to ensure that a clear airway is maintained throughout the procedure.
Sometimes a cough is noted for a couple of days after surgery. This may have been caused by the tube in the throat. Such coughs only last a couple of days; anything that persists longer should be re-evaluated. The tube is hooked up to a machine that delivers a specific concentration of inhalant gas mixed in 100% oxygen. An anesthesia technician is assigned to the monitoring of this pet so that the concentration of inhalant gas can be changed, color, heart rate, respiration and other parameters are followed.
In the surgical prep area, the abdomen is shaved and scrubbed. The bladder is emptied and the patient is moved to a surgical suite, where she is draped with surgical cloths or papers to isolate the area where surgery will take place.
An incision is made on the midline of the abdomen, and the three points where the ovaries and uterus attaches are tied off and cut. The abdomen is checked for bleeding and two or three layers of stitches are placed to close the incision.
It is helpful to know that should the skin stitches come out, there are two layers below holding everything closed. Sometimes skin stitches are not placed but if they are, you will need to return in 10 to 14 days to have them removed.
The anesthesia technician continues monitoring until the dog wakes up, and the tracheal tube is removed.
The patient is kept in an observation room until she is able to walk.
What to Expect at Home
Some nausea may occur in the first couple of days after surgery and it would not be unusual for the dog to refuse food for a day or two after surgery.
As noted above, a cough may persist for a couple of days as a result of the throat tube. This should not persist longer than a couple of days.
Activity should be restricted during the week following surgery. Excessive activity can lead to swelling or fluid accumulation under the incision. If a fluid pocket does form, it should resolve on its own after a few weeks. If a fluid pocket forms and drains liquid from the incision, the dog should be re-checked with the veterinarian.
What about Behavioral Changes?
The female dog's reproductive tract is dormant for most of the year. It only activates for the three-week period of heat. This means that from a behavioral stand point, the female dog acts spayed most of the time. There has been a documented slowing of metabolism after spays and it may be necessarily to use a reduced calorie food in an adult dog. Check with your veterinarian about nutritional recommendations.
Male Canine Neuter
What are the Health Benefits to the Dog?
There are several health benefits to neutering. One of the most important concerns the prostate gland, which under the influence of testosterone will gradually enlarge over the course of the dog's life. In old age, it is likely to become uncomfortable, possibly even large enough to interfere with defecation. The prostate under the influence of testosterone is also predisposed to infection, which is almost impossible to clear up without neutering. Neutering causes the prostate to shrink into insignificance, thus preventing both prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) as well as the uncomfortable benign hyperplasia (enlargement) that occurs with aging. It is often erroneously held that neutering prevents prostate cancer but this is not true.
Other health benefits of neutering include the prevention of certain types of hernias and tumors of the testicles and anus. Excessive preputial discharge is also reduced by neutering.
What Behavioral Changes can be Expected after Neutering?
The only behavior changes that are observed after neutering relate to behaviors influenced by male hormones. Playfulness, friendliness, and socialization with humans are not changed. The behaviors that change are far less desirable. The interest in roaming is eliminated in 90% of neutered dogs. Aggressive behavior against other male dogs is eliminated in 60% of neutered dogs. Urine marking is eliminated in 50% of neutered male dogs. Inappropriate mounting is eliminated in 70% of neutered dogs.
What is done Surgically?
An incision is made, generally just forward from the scrotum. The testicles are removed through this incision. The stalks are tied off and cut. Castration is achieved. If the testicles are not removed, the desirable benefits listed above cannot be realized. The skin incision may or may not have stitches.
What can I Expect upon Discharge from the Hospital?
The scrotum is often swollen in the first few days after surgery, leading some people to wonder if the procedure was really performed. If the dog is immature at the time of neutering, the empty scrotum will flatten out as he grows. If he is mature at the time of neuter, the empty scrotum will remain as a flap of skin. Sometimes the incision is mildly bruised. Most male dogs are eager to play by the day after surgery but, to keep the incision intact, it is best to restrict the dog from boisterous activity.
At what Age can Neutering be Performed?
Neutering can be performed at any age over age 8 weeks provided both testicles have descended. Dogs neutered before puberty (generally age 6 months) tend to grow a bit bigger than dogs neutered after puberty (testosterone is involved in causing bones to stop growing, so without testosterone the bones stop growing later). The same behavior and prostate health benefits can be realized no matter what age the dog is. (In other words, a dog does not become "too old" to obtain the same health and behavioral benefits of neutering.)
The traditional age for neutering is around 4-6 months of age and many veterinarians still recommend neutering at this age.
Will he Become Over-Weight or Lethargic?
Activity level and appetite do not change with neutering. A male dog should not gain weight or become less interested in activity post neuter.
Will he still be Interested in Females?
His interest will be reduced but if he is around a female dog in heat, he will become aroused by her. Mounting behavior often has roots in the expression of dominance and may be expressed by a neutered male in a variety of circumstances that are not motivated by sexuality.
What if a Dog has an Undescended Testicle?
Undescended testicles have an increased tendency to grow tumors. They may also twist on their stalks and cause life-threatening inflammation. For these reasons, neutering is recommended for dogs with undescended testicles. This procedure is more complicated than a routine neuter; the missing testicle can be under the skin along the path it should have descended to the scrotum, or it may be inside the abdomen. Some exploration may be needed to find it, thus there is often an incision for each testicle. The retained testicle is sterile and under-developed. If there is one descended testicle it will be fertile, but since retaining a testicle is a hereditary trait, it is important that the male dog not be bred before he is neutered.