In the female dog, the reproductive system consists of all those organs that have something to do with giving birth: the ovaries, uterus, mammary glands, cervix, vagina, vulva, clitoris, and Fallopian tubes. When everything is going well for the female dog, all these organs work together in harmony. Her season of heat comes twice yearly; she conceives then, if you mate her, and 9 weeks later she whelps a healthy litter, which she proceeds to take car of. For most females, this is a natural cycle of life. It is only the exceptional case that causes difficulty.
Most of these difficulties can be effectively cleared up if treatment is prompt. While diseases of the reproductive system may occur more often than before, it is still the uncommon case when a female has severe trouble. furthermore, many of these ailments usually do not affect the younger dog, although they possibly might.
Eclampsia is a disease that afflicts pregnant or nursing females when their supply of calcium and other minerals is disturbed. When she is pregnant, the fetuses will absorb her calcium and other minerals for their own needs. Similarly, when the female nurses the litter, they will suck her breasts dry, and unless there is a calcium and mineral supplement she may lose what she herself needs. The chief preventive is to give a vitamin and mineral supplement, plus calcium, to the pregnant and nursing female. Also make sure the milk is available. The condition is more common in the nursing female than in a pregnant female.
The signs of eclampsia are clear and dramatic. The female will start excessive panting and shaking, and she may go into fits or convulsions. She will have a wild look in her eyes. The condition is serious. Her temperature will rise and her mouth will become rigid. You might think she is rabid. When you see these signs, be sure to call a veterinarian and describe the symptoms. He will sometimes have to inject calcium gluconate and sedatives to return her to normal. Relief is very rapid and dramatic in most cases.
If the nursing female has eclampsia, remove the puppies and do not let them nurse for 2 or 3 days. Feed them prepared puppy formula. When the condition occurs in the pregnant female, the puppies may be born with a mineral deficiency. Prevention is the best treatment.
Strange as it may seem to you, the unspayed female may suffer from false pregnancy. If the condition recurs, you have a problem dog. In false pregnancy, the female shows all the symptoms of real pregnancy: expanded belly, swollen and sensitive breasts, a need to make a nest for her litter, even general nervousness as whelping time approaches. Only she is not pregnant.
such a female needs special care, especially if the false pregnancy occur often, as frequently as every 6 months. Hormone injection might help the condition, but if not, she will have to be spayed. The condition may also occur with bred females. Ask your veterinarian about a medication that can in most cases eliminate the condition.
When the nursing female's breasts become inflamed and swell up as a result of infection, she probably has mastitis. At first, the milk may be removed easily, but then it suddenly stops; the infection follows.
If you touch the mammary glands, they will be hot, and the female may feel severe pain. This is a condition that needs immediate professional treatment. During the infection, the secretion coming from the glands may make the puppy suckling it sick. While most puppies will refuse the teat when the milk is infected, there is no guarantee that they will. Also, the female will be in danger, as the infection can spread throughout her body. There is also a condition called mechanical mastitis: the puppy's teeth, biting into the teat when there is no milk present can cause an inflammation or mastitis. The female needs professional care in this case also.
Common Reproductive Diseases
Metritis means the inflammation and swelling of the uterus. It generally occurs 6 to 8 weeks after the heat. It may also occur during whelping, or right after whelping, or at almost any time. It affects only unspayed females. One of the reasons for spaying a female dog, in fact, is to avoid ailments like metritis.
Its symptoms are common to many other diseases: increased thirst, vomiting, vaginal discharge, loss of appetite, general depression, and listlessness. A veterinarian may clear it up with antibiotics if the condition has not progressed too far. A chronic or long-term metritis may require a hysterectomy (removal of female organs).
Pyometra is an accumulation of pus in the uterus, perhaps as a result of hormonal imbalance. It occurs more often in unbred females over 5 years of age, most frequently in those between 8 and 9. It is accompanied by thirst and increased urination, vomiting (of solids or even water), a rise in temperature, pain and bloating in the abdomen. The female will sometimes have a discharge form the uterus, as though in continual heat. These are symptoms common to many ailments, but with pyometra the female's hindquarters may give off a sickly sweetish odor if she is discharging.
One symptom of pyometra is the distension of the uterus, which increases as the pus forms. If the condition is left untreated, the outcome is usually fatal. A bloody discharge with pus from the vulva will alert you to the infection. When this happens, the veterinarian will probably have to resort to surgery to correct the condition.