Whether a dog is too old for pyometra surgery is something dog owners may wonder about. On one hand, you want your dog to live and the surgery can certainly save her life, on the other hand, you don't know if the surgery will be too risky.
Losing a dog on the surgical table or during the recovery process can be as devastating as losing a dog to untreated pyometra, however, you always have the reassurance of having at least tried your best as a coping mechanism if things don't work out.
Yet, putting an older dog through surgery isn't without any stress. Your dog may not like going to the vet and the recovery period may be hard on your dog's health and emotional wellbeing. So what to do in these cases?
Evaluating Your Dog's Lifespan
An important factor to consider is your dog's natural lifespan. Not all dogs have the same life span. How long a dog lives is something that varies a whole lot based on size.
For the great part we know that the lifespan of giant dog breeds is between 8 and 10 years, for large dogs it's 10 to 12 years, for medium dogs it's anywhere between 12 and 14 years and for small dogs it can be anywhere between 12 and 16 years. Of course, these are just rough estimates.
So, if for example, your dog is a large breed dog and she is 12, you know that she is already at an advanced age and is therefore on borrowed time. Every extra day should be perceived as a gift.
Being at an advanced age, makes your dog more susceptible to any number of diseases. Diseases that may pop up their ugly head right when your dog should be recovering from an important surgery.
However, this is not always the case. There can be chances that your dog recovers uneventfully, and then blesses you with another 2 to 3 years of quality life.
One important factor to consider is therefore that, even if you treat the pyometra, eventually some other health issue will pop up, only that you won't know when.
"Never Let the Sun Set on Pyometra"
In the veterinary field, there is a popular saying: never let the sun set of pyometra. This means that dogs should be treated as soon as possible, considering the life threatening events that may occur when this condition goes untreated.
It's unfortunate, but with a serious condition like pyometra, what's known for certain is that, unless the dog undergoes surgery, the dog will likely die from the disease.
Running Some Important Tests
Something that may help a lot in these cases of debate, is running some medical tests so to gain a deeper understand on the senior dog's current health status.
Running a complete blood profile, or even better, a whole senior panel may prove to be insightful on your dog's current status of health and what to expect during recovery.
This may be more feasible in a case of open pyometra where the dog is stable, versus closed pyometra where surgery is needed ASAP as every second counts.
Should there be any signs of significant organ compromise, you would then know that this may impact her recovery and bring more troubles down the road in the near future. In such a case, the surgery may not be the best course of action.
However, if bloodwork comes back normal and there is no evidence of systemic disease, then an important decision will need to be made, hopefully with the help of the vet.
Age doesn't factor too much into performing anesthesia, rather what counts more is the dog's overall health status.
"When dealing with a situation like this, though, risk usually isn't much of a factor because there is a far greater risk of dying from pyometra," observes veterinarian Dr. John.
A Difficult Decision Nonetheless
The biggest hurdle when it comes to having an older dog undergo an important surgery is that one cannot predict what diseases may lie in the dog's future, and when.
With an older dog, a life-saving surgery can certainly save her from a certain demise, only that we don't know how much longer we may get.
Ultimately whether an older dog should undergo pyometra surgery or not remains a very personal decision.
You'll have to factor in your dog's health, then look into your heart, and decide what it best. You may ultimately find that there is really no right or wrong and answer.