ASK THE VET

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS - BY CRAIG REILLY

QOur eight year old Labrador has just had an­other heat about a fort­night ago. She usu­ally is “on” for three weeks reg­u­lar like clock­work every six months. To­day she started bleed­ing again, and she is a bit swollen down there. Why should she come on so soon again?

Cather­ine, Mil­lisle

AI agree with you Cather­ine that this is far from nor­mal, even for a bitch not as reg­u­lar as yours. Ob­vi­ously, if she had been mated there would be the out­side pos­si­bil­ity this is a mis­car­riage. I am as­sum­ing she was not mated how­ever as you don’t say she was.

Bleed­ing per vagina can of course be a nor­mal heat/sea­son, but there are other causes far more wor­ri­some in an older en­tire bitch. I would sug­gest you see your vet ur­gently, as he/she will want to ex­am­ine her firstly for any bleed­ing dis­or­der, and then for signs that the bleed­ing is po­ten­tially from a diseased/ab­nor­mal womb or vagina.

Py­ome­tra is a com­mon and life-threat­en­ing in­fec­tion of the womb which oc­curs of­ten fol­low­ing a heat. In most bitches who are not spayed, the lin­ing of the womb be­comes thicker with age, and can de­velop cysts which fill with mu­cus nat­u­rally. If these cysts be­come in­fected, then a hor­ri­ble womb in­fec­tion can de­velop.

Many bitches with a py­ome­tra de­velop a mild fever and malaise, and start to drink fe­ro­ciously. This thirst can be the rea­son own­ers seek ve­teri­nary at­ten­tion be­cause some­times the in­fec­tion does not even drain at all and there is no ex­ter­nal clue, un­til the wee dog col­lapses vom­it­ing.

There is also a rare pos­si­bil­ity of a can­cer af­fect­ing the re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem which can bleed fol­low­ing a heat, af­ter the surge of oe­stro­gens causes the tu­mour to en­gorge and swell. Vagi­nal masses in par­tic­u­lar are sus­cep­ti­ble to this ex­ac­er­ba­tion by hor­mones. Many bitches also get a false preg­nancy af­ter a heat, but they do not usu­ally bleed with that, although the vulva can be dra­mat­i­cally swollen.

Please don’t de­lay hav­ing a ve­teri­nary ex­am­i­na­tion as an emer­gency hys­terec­tomy will cure the prob­lem if it is a py­ome­tra, which must be the most likely of all I have dis­cussed!

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