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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18390
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 8 yr old St. Bernard is in season and the amount of blood

Customer Question

My 8 yr old St. Bernard is in season and the amount of blood is extremely heavy . Her whole back area is covered in blood . Is this normal for her age
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 month ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 month ago.

I am sorry to hear that your pup has had an abnormal heat cycle with heavier bleeding than usual. My apologies on your wait for a response, I just came online and saw your question and I would like to help.

In short no this is not a normal old age change, although older intact (unspayed) females are more likely to have reproductive tract issues and changes in heat cycles.

I hope that she feels fine otherwise, eating and drinking normally with her normal activity level. If not and she is drinking more water then usual or has a decrease in her appetite I am more concerned.

An increased vaginal discharge can indicate endometritis, which is due to a thickened, abnormal uterine lining. This isn't necessarily dangerous for her, but it does indicate that she likely has abnormal fertility because of her thickened uterine lining.

Another reason for an increased discharge can be a uterine infection called a pyometra. Pyometras can rupture, causing peritonitis and/or the infection can spread to her other organs leading to abscesses in her kidneys, liver spleen and even her heart valves. The toxic metabolites from the infection can affect her appetite and cause her to drink lots of water as the infection progresses.

Early on the symptoms of an open pyometra and endometritis can be very similar as long as the pyometra is draining. That is because if the infection is draining she may not feel the effects of the bacterial toxins as quickly as if the infection was closed in and the toxin levels build up more quickly in her uterus and bloodstream.

Antibiotics alone do not work to treat a pyometra as they have poor penetration into an infection filled uterus and do not address the pool of infectious material and toxins in her uterus. We sometimes use prostaglandin injections and combination antibiotics in dogs that owners want to breed another time, but the success rate is variable. And even if it works if she isn't bred successfully on the next heat the chances of the infection returning are very high. At her age it is unlikely that she would be a good candidate for breeding anyway.

Ideally she would see her veterinarian for an examination and to check her vaginal discharge to try and differentiate between endometritis and an early pyometra. The sooner that she is examined the better as if this is a pyometra the sooner that is addressed the better chance she has of doing well. Treatment for a pyometra is stabilizing her with intravenous fluids and antibiotics and surgery to remove the infected uterus. The longer that you wait the more opportunity this infection has to spread and the more difficult it will be to save her.

If she seems to feel great otherwise I recommend that you have her seen as soon as possible by her regular veterinarian. Even if this is endometritis I would recommend having her spayed after this heat cycle as she has an abnormal uterus.

If however her appetite is off and she seems to be drinking more water then usual, or is running a fever (rectal temperature greater then 103F) then this probably should not wait until Monday, she should be seen as soon as possible.

It has been my pleasure to help you today, and I hope that I have earned my 5 star rating. Please remember to rate my service by selecting the 5 stars at the top of the screen (rating me now does not close your question). You are welcome to ask follow up questions about my response here until you are satisfied, simply use the reply box and let me know. Thank you!

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 29 days ago.

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your pup. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****