Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Congratulations, It's an Infected Uterus: Miku's Story

Miku is a female Akita, about seven years old. My friend is "babysitting" her. Kind of. The exact circumstances aren't that important.


The whole story started with my friend asking how long a heat cycle should last.


I have to admit I know very little about these things because I never had an intact dog. And given our plan to only adopt or foster adult dogs from now on, the odds of having one in the future are low.

Generally, heat cycle lasts between 2-4 weeks. That's all I know, and I had to look it up.

I asked the friend why she wanted to know.

"I think she's bleeding longer than she should," the friend replied.


Since it hasn't been over 4 weeks yet, the friend was satisfied that it might still be normal.

Another week later, I got another inquiry about Miku. She was becoming increasingly picky with her food and would accept only the most attractive items. I was asked whether it could still be from the not feeling well due to the cycle.

While I suppose that could be possible, I felt that the heat should have been over by then.

I noted that a dog that doesn't want their food is usually a concern to me.


Even though Miku had some history of being a finicky eater, this was a turn for the worse even from that. I recommended the owner be notified and Miku brought in to a vet for a good "look over" and some labs.

The owner, however, didn't believe there was a problem.

A few days later Miku not only didn't want to eat but wasn't even interested in anybody coming out to see her.

Miku was always inside out every time anybody showed up.


But now she wouldn't come up to greet. This time I really insisted something was wrong for sure and Miku needed to be seen.

The most dangerous thing that can make a dog start acting sick after coming out of heat is an infection of the uterus, pyometra.


"I do not want to scare you," I said, "but this would be my primary concern. And I explained to her what pyometra is. "I hope I'm wrong, but Miku should really see a vet to at least rule this out."

Pyometra can be life-threatening. If that is what's going on, it calls for a prompt action.

It took Miku becoming severely lethargic for her owner to finally take her into a clinic.


Later that day my friend reported that the vet said it was a minor infection and Miku got sent home with antibiotics.

A mild infection? Of what? Having three degrees of separation between myself and the vet, I wasn't going to be getting any more detailed information. Surely the vet would have thought of and ruled out pyometra before just sending Miku home with a bottle of antibiotics?

I figured I was wrong about it which would have been great.


Once on the antibiotics, Miku did start looking better. Maybe it was some kind of a "mild infection" whatever that kind of a diagnosis meant. Though I did find it very strange for a dog to act so sick just because of a mild infection.

Miku finished her medications a seemed to have been in a better shape. She even got more interested in food.

Yet another week later, it turned out she was still discharging.


And her appetite and energy level were sinking again. "The owner is taking her back to the vet to be spayed," my friend updated me.

Miku was dropped off in the morning for her surgery, expected to return home the same day.

Instead, she remained in the hospital for IV and intensive care.

"Her uterus was twice the size of a normal one," the vet relayed, "I've never seen uterus this big."


Funny; I have. Though, fortunately, only on photos and videos. I've seen uteri much larger than twice the normal size; full of pus.

Miku was suffering from pyometra after all.


I so hate being right. But I'm glad that Miku finally got the intervention she needed. I'm glad I kept pushing the matter.

Miku did recover, and she's doing better now than ever.

How close did she get to getting deathly ill?


Pretty damn close.

While I do believe that dogs should not be spayed or neutered as early as many vets still promote, I also believe they should definitely get "fixed" by the age of two or less, depending on the breed. Unless science comes up with a reason why they shouldn't be "fixed" at all.

Most importantly, though, please remember this:

If your intact female dog starts acting sick after the end of the cycle, please, think pyometra.


If it's not, the better. But if it is, acting early can be life-saving.

"I can't believe she's still alive," Miku's vet said.

I can't believe the vet didn't suspect pyometra the first time Miku was in her clinic.

All is well what ends well, though if everybody did things just a little differently, it could have saved Miku quite a long time of suffering.

20 comments

  1. OH boy - now this sounds unpleasant for the poor dog! Sometimes you need your own knowledge to help you as well don't you!

    I always listen to the adivce of fellow cat lovers especially those who deal with rescue cats, they deal with the sharp end and see stuff the vet might not, or read signals differently.

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    1. Pyometra is way worse than unpleasant; it can be deadly.

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  2. Yikes. So scary on so many accounts. I'm a quick one to see my vet since they tend to be able to at least rule some things out. Sucks when the vet is wrong, good thing it was caught in time.

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    1. Very scary. I can't believe the vet didn't consider pyometra the first time around.

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  3. Poor Miku! I'm so glad your friend kept reaching out to you about her situation. How sad for her that her owner put off vet care. I'm glad to hear she's better.

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    1. So many people are convinced that "the dog will be fine" all on their own. And yet, at the end, the vet was surprised that Miku was still alive.

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  4. Poor dog.

    Our breeder almost lost Brulee's mom because she developed pyometra. She developed much later after Brulee was born, but Mikayla almost died. She was spayed and is living a wonderful life with Terri.

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    1. Yes, pyometra can be deadly. That's why I kept pushing given the circumstances.

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  5. Poor Mika. That sounds horrible. Thank goodness she finally received the care she needed (how horrible that it took so long for the vet to figure it out). I always adopt older dogs who are already spayed, but still glad to know about this just in case.

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    1. Yes. I don't know much about intact dogs either but I surely do know this.

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  6. Wow, I'm so glad she survived that! I hope that vet will think a little harder before making a diagnosis. I wish the owner would have heeded the advice you and your friend gave her sooner.

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    1. I wish that too. Just glad everything did work out at the end.

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  7. My gosh! Thanks for writing about this. Like you, I've never had an intact dog. But I have friends who for one reason or another won't have their dog spayed (in spite of me telling them repeatedly why they should, don't even get me started on that topic). I'm going to share this with them. May be the motivation they need to get their dog spayed. Thanks a ton!!!

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    1. It they have a good reason to keep a dog intact, fine. But AT LEAST they need to be aware of this potentially deadly risk.

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  8. That dog is lucky to be alive. I wish more pet owners would ask questions of the veterinarian and learn the details. Or even get a second opinion if she was unsure. Thank goodness this was caught in time before it got much worse.

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    1. Yes, she's lucky to be alive. One tough girl.

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  9. Wow...how scary. I'm certainly glad Miku is doing fine now, but that is so frightening. Thank you for sharing this important info. Miku is beautiful! Here is to forever health for her. <3

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    1. Thank you. It was very frustrating not being able to control that situation. But it all worked out at the end.

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  10. Pinning! Wow, thank you for sharing this valuable information. I was speaking with someone at the vet's office today about when to spay. Not too soon and not too late.

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    1. Yes, generally between 1 and 2 years of age depending on the breed/size as it seems of now.

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