Senior Female Dog – Discharge Dangerous


l have a 17 year old Pomeranian. She is in heat and no, l never had her fixed. She is bleeding way more than usual. It’s not bright red like blood but l know she’s uncomfortable. She is usually very active but I know she’s hurting. Should I be concerned? Is there something l can give her for pain?

Dr. Nichol:
I am concerned about your senior girl. Unlike humans, a normally aging female dog’s reproductive cycle continues throughout life. There is no canine menopause. The normal, somewhat bloody, vaginal discharge from a dog “in heat” should reoccur in a similar way about every 6 months, interrupted only for a few months if she finds herself in a family way. Any change causes us to suspect trouble.

Reproductive problems are common in aging girl dogs, more often seen in those who’ve never had puppies. If your Pomeranian’s cervix (the opening to her uterus) did not close following a previous heat cycle, bacteria may have invaded. The resultant slowly advancing infection creates a major physical stress that also damages kidneys and heart valves.

The appearance of your dog’s vaginal discharge is a strong indicator of a substantial accumulation of pus in her uterus. A big internal abscess like this, without decisive treatment, is lethal. The name for this serious infection is pyometra. If not corrected early it will get a lot worse. Antibiotics and pain control are certainly necessary but that overwhelming reservoir of bacteria and dying tissue must be eliminated ASAP.

It’s OK if this mature little lady lies about her age but she is unquestionably elderly; she can’t handle much more. Without emergency surgery she is certain to get much sicker. She needs a hysterectomy (spay) right away. It’s her only chance. Pretreatment with IV fluids and antibiotics, along with warmth and very careful anesthesia, will set her up to return home in much better shape.

Most veterinarians are equipped and skilled in pyometra surgery. I’ve done many with excellent outcomes. Do whatever it takes. Your good dog deserves the best.
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Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet behavioral or physical questions on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.