A dog with a prolapsed uterus will require prompt treatment due to the threat of the tissue drying out and dying. The longer the prolapse is out, the harder it becomes to deal with in the long run. There are a few steps you can take on the way to your vet to prevent the tissue from drying out and becoming quickly devitalized. Fortunately, a prolapsed uterus is quite rare in dogs (vaginal prolapses are more common), with a reported incidence of less than 0.03 percent, but when it happens, it can affect mother dog's ability to have puppies in the future, especially if the issue is not tackled in a timely manner.
A Dog With a Prolapsed Uterus
A dog's uterus is an organ meant to provide support to a litter of puppies. This organ is meant to be tucked safely in the dog's abdomen. As the name implies, a prolapse occurs when an organ drops out from its normal position. In uterus prolapse, the dog's uterus slips through the cervix and out of the dog's private area causing a visible protrusion.
Also known as uterine prolapse, or prolapsed womb, a prolapsed uterus in dogs is often dogs who have recently delivered a litter, after the last puppy. Typically, it occurs during or immediately after delivering the last pup or up to 48 hours later. It can also be seen after spontaneous abortion.
A prolapsed uterus may also take place during pregnancy sadly leading to mother dog losing her pup/pups. Older dogs are prone to uterine prolapse due to repeated whelping over the years, but it may also happen the very first time a dog gives birth.
Regardless, of when the prolapsed uterus takes place, the underlying causes that may have prompted the prolapse may vary. A prolapsed uterus may occur as a result of straining due to birthing difficulties in dogs, oversized puppies, inappropriate forceful handling in extracting the puppies out, a retained placenta, an inflamed uterus (metritis), the presence of polyps, cysts or tumors ( e.g uterine cancer). Sometimes, no exact cause can be found, in which case it's referred to as to being "idiopathic."
A dog with a prolapsed uterus will typically show swelling, discharge, restlessness, pain and constant licking of the affected area. Dog owners will readily notice a protruding, tubular red mass. Due to the presence of this mass, affected dogs will often be seen straining as if trying to eliminate.
Because a prolapsed uterus is exposed to exterior contaminants, the affected dog is susceptible to infections. On top of that, affected dogs may also be predisposed to life threatening internal bleeding. A dog's uterine prolapse may be partial with the uterine body and one horn protruding, or complete, with both horns protruding.
"The prolapsed uterine tissues are at risk for maceration and infection from exposure and contamination."~ Thomas Baker, Autumn Davidson DVM
First Aid for Dog Prolapsed Uterus
Should a dog's prolapsed uterus not be treated in a timely manner, there are risks that the protruding tissue will become devitalized (necrosis), swollen, and difficult to return into its correct position. Not to mention the complications mentioned. This condition therefore, requires immediate attention and represents an emergency.
If you cannot see the vet right away, it's important that the area remains moist and lubricated. The best way to do this, is by placing some sterile KY jelly on the prolapsed mass and keep the dog as calm and still as possible to prevent potential internal bleeding, suggests veterinarian Dr. Maggie. Moving around too much may cause hemorrhage due to rupture of the uterine artery.
A dog sitting down on the floor will also cause the prolapsed area to touch the floor and become easily contaminated. It is therefore important, that the dog is monitored carefully, and that licking or chewing at the prolapsed areas is prevented so to prevent infections. The temporary use of an Elizabethan collar may turn helpful.
" If the tissue is left out, it can dehydrate, lose its blood supply, and die (the tissue not the dog). If she does have a uterine prolapse, then it will need to be surgically repaired... If you did not have her treated, then the tissue would die. Toxins from the dead tissue would be released into her body. She most likely would also have an infection."~Dr. Gabby
At the Vet's Office
Once at the vet, your dog will be examined carefully paying close attention to your dog's reproductive system. If the vet confirms uterus prolapse, the vet may then decide to pursue further testing including a complete blood count, urinalysis and further tests to confirm or rule out potential underlying disorders.
The vet will also determine whether the dog is showing signs of sepsis. Fluids and antibiotics may be given.
The vet may examine the area using a scope to detect any abnormalities such as lesions or growths. Sometimes, benign polyp-like tumours can protrude and appear as a uterine prolapse. A biopsy of tissues may be carried out should cancer be suspected.
Uterine prolapse should also be distinguished from vaginal prolapse. An ultrasound may confirm uterine prolapse by noting the absence of a uterus. The ultrasound will also confirm proper positioning of other organs within the abdomen which at times may prolapse as well.
At this point, the vet may clean the uterus, lubricate the uterine horns and gently try to manually return the uterus to its normal position; however, there are no guarantees this will be a permanent solution. In many cases, the uterus will just likely prolapse and pop out again sooner or later.
An ovariohysterectomy (spay surgery) may be suggested. Since this surgery entails removing the ovaries and the uterus of the dog, this means the dog can no longer have puppies. For a mother dogs who recently gave birth, removal of the uterus shouldn't affect the way she interacts and cares for her puppies.
For breeders who wish to not spay their females, there are chances a surgical tacking procedure can be done but only if the dog is a good candidate for that ( if the organ is still vital and not too much time has elapsed). The tacking consists of tacking the uterus in place by attaching it to the dog's abdominal wall.
The prognosis of uterine prolapse repair is guarded and depends on how quickly veterinary intervention takes place, as well as the onset of secondary complications (e.g. swelling and pain and trouble urinating due to urethral obstruction).
Cost of Uterine Prolapse Repair in Dogs
What's the average cost to repair a prolapsed uterus in dogs? The cost for repairing a prolapsed uterus in dogs can range between $1,600 to $2,500. Costs vary greatly based on whether the procedure is done by an emergency vet, surgery specialist or regular vet.
The procedure is not easy and may take some time. The dog's uterus may need to be repositioned inside before the spay surgery could be done properly. However, if the uterus is too contaminated it might not be feasible to push it back into the abdomen. The goal is to prevent or eliminate a uterine infection.
- International Journal of Veterinary Science, Manual Replacement of Bilateral Uterine Horn Prolapse Coupled With Retained Fetus in a Great Dane, T Sathiamoorthy, Cecilia Joseph, P Sridevi and K Kulasekar, Department of Animal Reproduction, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Madras Veterinary College, Chennai, India