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Health & Nutrition

Effects Of Spaying

by tom holcomb   |  September 23rd, 2010 0

…Plus, ACL recovery time and chronic limping

(Question) We recently had our two-year-old female Brittany spayed. She had a litter of six puppies in April of this year. About a week after being spayed she began spotting which lasted for about two days.



The last thing I would think about is that there might be an ovarian remnant remaining following surgery. This is not a common finding but it does happen as the ovary is rather surrounded by a fatty mass and can be difficult to identify accurately.
 

She also acted as though she was coming into heat. She attempted to mount our male. She had no real signs of being in heat before being spayed but was probably close to her next heat.

Is it possible that she could have come into heat or is it just hormones that may be left in her body? She seems quite healthy otherwise. Any comments or advice would be appreciated. –SJ

     (Answer) Some things that I would consider are healing of the uterine stump, estrogens remaining in the bloodstream and the possibility of a piece of ovary left intact during surgery.

As part of the standard ovariohysterectomy in the bitch, both ovaries along with the two horns and body of the uterus are removed.  The body of the uterus is removed by ligation and transaction at about the level of the cervix. This leaves a stump that must heal and during that healing process sometimes there is a discharge out through the vagina and it may appear on the vulva as a drop or two of blood-tinged fluid. If this is the cause in your dog it should resolve in a few days.

Estrogen is the hormone responsible for the external signs of heat that we see in the bitch. These signs include bleeding from the vulva, swelling of the vulva and odors that attract male dogs. This estrogen hormone is secreted from the ovary and is commonly excreted in varying amounts even at those times that the bitch is not in obvious heat. I don’t think that enough estrogen might remain to cause these signs.

The last thing I would think about is that there might be an ovarian remnant remaining following surgery. This is not a common finding but it does happen as the ovary is rather surrounded by a fatty mass and can be difficult to identify accurately.

I would suggest that you take an approach of monitoring this condition. The best way would be to have the bitch examined and include palpation of the uterine stump, vaginal smears to monitor cornification of the vagina, changes in the vulva and general health of the bitch.

      (Question) I have a springer spaniel, 55 pounds, UK lines, who goes flat out all the time. He blew out his right ACL three years ago. His recovery was slow, but he’s doing pretty well overall. On occasion there’s some stiffness after a day in the field.

Then in March he blew out his left ACL. I had surgery done April 14th. I received my instructions for rehab from the surgeon and followed them to the letter. He was given a “good to go” on June 21st. My vet, not the surgeon, told me this.

My concerns are that my springer is really struggling with this rehab process. Two weeks ago I started swimming him, wanting to gradually increase his exercise time. To keep him from plunging in the water, I put on a pair of waders and stood in the water with him. The first trip was probably five minutes and yesterday he swam for 20 minutes. After that, he couldn’t walk on the leg for the remainder of the day.



NSAIDs are wonderful drugs with great anti-inflammatory properties that give pain relief. In my mind I feel that lesions require a certain amount of inflammation to bring to the wound certain products of the body that contribute to healing.
 

Yesterday I gave him a little rubdown to try to massage the leg and noticed a huge difference in the muscle mass on the left leg vs. the right. He’s on Purina Pro Plan Adult during the off-season and Purina Pro Plan Performance during the fall and winter months. In addition, I’ve got him on Medicam daily to cut the pain.

I tried Rimadyl after his first surgery but nothing cut the pain like Medicam. After his first surgery I remember the rehab was slow, but I don’t remember this pattern.

Another question mark is his age. He’ll be nine this December. I know age is a factor but I feel I’m not pushing him at all. In fact I had to make him get out of the water yesterday to go home. In your opinion, is his age the main factor here? And should I just continue to take it easy on him and let things develop as they will?

Besides him being my buddy, I work as a guide at one of the posh clubs in New York during the season and I’m concerned about whether I should hunt him this year. I have talked to others who have had the ACL surgery and it sounds like their dogs are doing much better than my springer is at this stage of the rehab process. –RC

  (Answer) Age certainly can be a factor in the course of healing in a dog or any animal. I don’t subscribe to the direct application of the old “one year of a dog’s life equals seven years of a human” adage but it is obvious that dogs do age faster than we do and three years does become a relatively long time, in this case probably 1/4 of the dog’s life.

I think you need to take more control of the dog during exercise, shorten times up, and plan on it taking longer. Try daily walks on leash. Keep them at 15 minutes to start and don’t let the dog free run. Then use restricted water work. That is, don’t let the dog free swim in a pond but control time and intensity by having the dog on a leash or in a pool where you can control time and intensity.

Some large veterinary facilities have these tanks that allow the dog to walk on a treadmill while being supported by water. I feel swimming is good but again must be controlled.



I think you need to take more control of the dog during exercise, shorten times up, and plan on it taking longer. Try daily walks on leash. Keep them at 15 minutes to start and don’t let the dog free run. Then use restricted water work.
 

Have as your goal that the dog will be comfortable on the leg and ultimately able to return to field work, not that he necessarily will be ready to hunt on the preserve in September. Remember, all ACL surgeries, and any other surgery for that matter, do not produce 100 percent success and do not follow the same post-operative recovery course in each individual or even in each leg
of the same individual.

(Question) Have attached a brief medical history and four vet records for your perusal.  I am a 71-year-old avid hunter and this dog is in the prime of her life and now after walking about a block on a leash, she is lame.

She is a five-year-old female German shorthaired pointer; she weighs 49 pounds and resides in Wisconsin; and is a professionally trained hunting dog who has tested in the NAVHDA system through the Invitational level.  She is a high prey, high energy and big running dog.  We follow vet recommendations with inoculations, etc.

Since March of this year she has been troubled with chronic limping on her left foreleg, and sometimes holds her leg in an elevated position even when resting. Numerous x-rays have revealed nothing wrong with the leg or forepaw, and various treatments including splinting, restricted activity and several different medications (NSAIDs, etc., detailed in the attached vet records) have provided temporary relief. But the limp always eventually returns after the treatment ends.

Any suggestions you can provide would be greatly appreciated. –JB

(Answer) You have certainly gone all out to diagnose your dog’s problem and have not found a definitive diagnosis yet. And you may never find one. I would be tempted to remove the NSAIDs from the treatment plan and use something as simple as rest and hot packing (soaking) to change whatever is going on in this foot.

NSAIDs are wonderful drugs with great anti-inflammatory properties that give pain relief. In my mind I feel that lesions require a certain amount of inflammation to bring to the wound certain products of the body that contribute to healing. Drug manufacturers might not agree with this thinking but the use of Previcox for six months really has not gotten you very far toward a solution of this problem.

Hot packs or soaking will also encourage increased blood flow to the area and encourage healing. This simple treatment plan of no NSAIDs, hot packing and rest for a couple weeks will do no harm and may give you the information you need to define this dog’s problem.  

Good News!
I finally got a new puppy. She is a German shorthaired pointer, with big liver spots and ticking in the white. She is nine weeks old today and helping me as I write this column. She seems like a good solid pup and will be fun to watch grow up and become a real hunting dog. More about her in future issues. Until then, I remain at htholcombdvm@qwest.net for more questions or comments.

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