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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29002
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I'm doing research on my dog's case. My 8 month year old pit is

Customer Question

Hello.... I'm doing research on my dog's case. My 8 month year old pit bull is going through her first heat cycle. According to the vet, her vulva is abnormally swollen, and according to other symptoms, which includes excessive bleeding, the vet might be afraid that it might be "Pyometria" (please excuse spelling). Before getting into the actual diagnosis procedures, I told the vet that she has also been getting into our avocado tree and has been doing so for weeks. The vet was somewhat relieved and explained that avocados are toxic to dogs, which decreased the odds of pyometria. So she gave us antibiotics and anti inflammatory meds for 5 days. Hopefully they will help.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
Playing devil's advocate, I must comment...
There isn't such a thing as an abnormally swollen vulva during a normal heat. We can see hypertrophy or prolapse of the vagina, however. Swelling can vary widely between dogs and between different heat cycles.
There isn't such a thing as abnormal bleeding during a normal heat. Once again, bleeding can vary widely between dogs and between different heat cycles. In rare cases, coagulation defects (hemophilia, e.g.) would cause abnormal bleeding.
Pyometra is a uterine condition that develops 1-3 months after estrus (heat). It shouldn't be a consideration if Nova is currently in heat.
There was no need for either antibiotics or antiinflammatory meds.
I'm disappointed in the standard of care exhibited by Nova's vet. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
I didn't address the avocado issue...
"While avocado is toxic to some animals, in dogs and cats we don't expect to see serious signs of illness. In some dogs and cats, mild stomach upset may occur if the animal eats a significant amount of avocado flesh or peel. Ingestion of the pit can lead to obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, which is a serious situation requiring urgent veterinary care. Avocado is sometimes included in pet foods for nutritional benefit. We would generally not expect avocado meal or oil present in commercial pet foods to pose a hazard to dogs and cats."
....SPCA Animal Poison control
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
As far as the avocados are concerned, I have seen pieces of pits of avocados in her stool. She loves chewing on them. And it's that time of season, the avocado tree is starting to bear fruit and very frequently have undeveloped avocados fall from the tree due to wind and weather. And of coarse the pits are still in them, which Nova loves to go for. She is surely being watched from here on out. But is it possible, Nova might have a gastrointestinal problem? What are some symptoms I should watch for?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Signs of pit irritation or obstruction of her GI tract are pain as evidenced by "splinting" of her abdomen, inappetence, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Should these symptoms arise, X-rays of her gastrointestinal tract are indicated to better evaluate the extent of pet fragments present and if there's a gas pattern inside her GI tract typical of obstruction.
Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Off the top of my head, symptoms include, Loss of energy, excessive sleep, loss of appetite, heavy bleeding during stool passing from vagina, (no blood in stool), softer ribbon like stool.Whenever she does poop, it seems like she is having a hard time. It takes her 2 or 3 squatings at a time before she's done. Again, with heavy bleeding between squatings.NO Vomitin, NO diarrhea.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
By the principle of Occam's Razor, I'm going to attribute her lethargy, inappetence, and bleeding to her heat cycle. She appears to be under the heavy influence of estrogen at this time and is likely to be quite uncomfortable. I expect her to remiss, however, once proestrus ends and estrus begins. That's when bleeding abates and little or no discharge is noted. It's also the time when she's most receptive to a male dog.
Her difficulty defecating, however, may be directly related to her avocado ingestion. If that behavior persists, X-rays are indicated.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
I have to leave my computer for the night but I promise to reply in the morning if need be.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Please forgive my lack of knowledge on the terminology, but your statement "I expect her to remiss, however, once proestrus ends and estrus begins." Pretty much means that symptoms should stop when her cycle is done, correct? On the average, how long does a cycle take? Nova started swelling close to a month ago, but her bleeding started on the 28th of last month.Another symptom is flatulance. She has been passing gas quite a bit for quite some time now.How long should I wait before I get her X-rays... of course if problem persists?So just for piece of mind, so that my family can sleep a little better, it's safe to rule out Pyometra
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
As her heat cycle progresses, she moves from proestrus (bleeding, vulvar swelling) to estrus (little or no discharge, receptive to the male) to diestrus (not receptive any longer) to anestrus (quiescence). Proestrus to diestrus usually takes 3-4 weeks and there's quite a bit of variability to the length of each stage. If she began bleeding on the 28th, I would expect the bleeding to diminish within days. Her vulvar swelling will persist longer but also will diminish as she moves into diestrus.
Passing gas shouldn't be related to her heat period; instead, look at her diet from which you might remove soy protein if present. If bleeding persisted for more than a month, cystic ovaries are suspected. Spaying would be curative. If spaying isn't desired, drug therapy (gonadotropin releasing hormone, e.g.) is available. X-rays aren't indicated; ultrasound is preferred as a more sensitive imaging modality when evaluating the ovaries for cysts. Yes, pyometra can't be present during proestrus or estrus. It's a disease of a uterus under the influence of progesterone as seen during diestrus.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Is spaying safe during the heat cycle?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
If performed carefully, yes. Most of us prefer not to spay dogs during the heat cycle because of the likelihood of inadvertent bleeding when handling the friable tissues present at that time.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Hi Jp,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Nova. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin