If your dog was recently spayed, you may have noticed that your dog is bleeding and you may be wondering about whether it is normal for a dog to bleed after being spayed. The answer is that it depends on several factors such as the amount of blood dripping from your dog's private area and how long it lasts. As always, your best option is to simply give your vet a call, but for some odd twist of fate, these things always seem to happen when your vet's office is closed.
A dog bleeding after being spayed is abnormal, but there are a few possible explanations. Following are just a few pointers as to what may cause a bloody discharge in dogs after being spayed, but if your dog is bleeding extensively, appears weak and has pale gums, don't waste any more time and have her seen by an emergency vet! If your dog is bleeding from a spay incision, you may want to inform your vet and see him quickly if you notice persistent drainage. You can read more about this here: dog bleeding from spay incision.
Onset of Heat
If your dog was spayed when she was in heat or about to go in heat, this can be a reasonable explanation for the bleeding showing up after being spayed.
It doesn't hurt to call the vet and ask about the condition of the dog's uterus and ovaries when they were removed.
Chances are, the vet may have noticed changes in your dog's anatomy that are seen when a dog is in heat or very close to going into heat.
When a dog is in heat or about to go in heat, the uterus and ovaries will swell and appear more vascular which makes the spay surgery a bit more complicated. Veterinarians often charge more to spay a dog while in heat because of this.
Most likely, your vet would have known at what point she was at the heat cycle before the spay surgery, but it may happen that the signs are only evident during surgery as the uterus and ovaries are visualized.
If your dog was in heat or about to go in heat, it could be that the stump left behind after removing the uterus and ovaries was already influenced by the hormonal changes that occur when a dog is in heat. Your dog may therefore bleed a bit for some time until those hormones are out of the system.
Consider as well that being in heat affects a dog's blood clotting times and slows down wound healing, points out veterinarian Dr. Scott.
"The vaginal bleeding can be very normal and can occur for up to a week depending on how much of the uterine body was left behind during the surgery... Usually the vaginal blood leakage will stop much sooner, in most cases 24 hours."~Dr. Dan
A Possible UTI
There may be chances that the blood is not coming from your dog's private area, but rather is coming from her urinary tract. This can be an indication that your dog is suffering from a urinary tract infection which is not uncommon after a dog is spayed.
Why are spayed dogs predisposed to a UTI? When a dog is under anesthesia when being spayed, the urethra is relaxed and this makes it easier for bacteria to enter and cause an infection.
On top of that, some dogs will not urinate as frequently as they normally do after surgery as they're groggy or in pain. Holding urine for too long causes it to concentrate creating the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. Next thing you know, your dog has a urinary tract infection.
Dogs with a urinary tract infection will have blood in their urine, will urinate frequently and in small amounts, and they may be licking their private areas frequently. A course of antibiotics is needed to cure a dog's urinary tract infection, so it's important to schedule a vet appointment and ask your vet whether you should bring in a urine sample.
Nothing Major Going On
If your dog's bleeding is very light and watery, there may chances that when you call your vet he/she will tell you it is nothing to worry about, but to keep an eye on your dog if the bleeding increases or your dog develops pale gums. It may happen that occasionally some dogs develop a small amount of discharge after being spayed, explains veterinarian Thomasz Wnuck.
It could be just some residual blood left over from surgery that is being discharged; however, once again, it's important to report to the vet immediately should the bleeding increase or lasts several days and the dog appears weak, lethargic and develops pale gums.
"Some dogs can have a small amount of bleeding after they are spayed. It should be a very small amount and stop normally on the first 3 days after the procedure."~Dr. Debra Primovic, veterinarian
Dog Bleeding Complications
While light spotting with a small blood tinged discharge isn't likely to be overly concerning, a dog who is having a discharge that is bright red (frank blood) is more concerning and should be brought to a vet's attention immediately. Bright red is fresh blood and it can be indicative of complications.
In some instances, bleeding extensively from the surgical incision and/or the dog's private area, may be indicative of a bleeding problem. The affected dog may have a blood clotting disorder that is interfering with the body's ability to heal or could have ingested rat poison. Signs suggesting a bleeding problem include blood in the urine, blood in the stools, bruises on the skin and bleeding gums, points our Dr. Primovic.
Checking the gums in a dog that is bleeding is important as it provides an insight about the dog's circulation. Pale gums can be suggestive of anemia and decreased blood volume, which can be seen when a dog is bleeding profusely. In a healthy dog with good circulation, the gums are bubble gum pink. Pale gums that are light pink to white or any other color than normal, are a medical emergency.
Also, capillary refill time is something else worth checking: if you press on your dog's gums with your finger, they should blanch to pale white, but once you remove your finger they should resume their natural color quickly, in less than 2 seconds.
A Matter of Ovarian Remnant
This is not very common, but worthy of mentioning. Sometimes, a dog who was spayed may still be able to come into heat because of an ovarian remnant. This happens when a spay surgery was not done correctly, and a piece of ovarian tissue was left inside.
When this happens, this piece of ovarian remnant is capable enough to secrete enough hormones to create the onset of a heat cycle. Female dogs may therefore be able to go in heat causing the typical bloody discharge. For more on this read: can dogs go into heat after being spayed? In some cases, affected can also go on to develop what is known as a "stump pyometra."
In a stump pyometra, the small portion of uterus that is left behind after a spay becomes filled with infection. Affected dogs develop a bloody/pus-like discharge, develop a fever along with weakenss, lethargy and a loss of appetite. This is a medical emergency that often requires the dog to be hospitalized and given antibiotics and sometimes some dogs end up needing surgery to remove the "stump."
Better Safe than Sorry
As seen, there may be several things going on if your dog is bleeding after a spay surgery. Your best option is to give your vet a quick call and report your findings. Chances are, it is nothing to worry about, but it's good to feel safe rather than sorry. If your dog is dripping blood and it doesn't show signs of stopping, or you dog is weak, lethargic and has pale gums, see your vet at once. With persistent blood loss, every second counts.