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Date:   21 December, 2009  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pig & rabbits.

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures

Would the Silkie Terrier be alive
 if the vet had operated earlier?

Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: Oct 25, 2006
Updated: Dec 21, 2009

 
"Are you grooming yourself?" I asked the pet shop girl who twirled her long bronzed shoulder length hair behind the counter.  A thin teenaged girl working as a part-timer was busy cleaning up the kennels. A notebook displaying beautiful pictures of Victoria Secret's handbags were switched on.

As I was on the way to vaccinate 2 puppies at another pet shop in Oct 2006, I dropped by to see whether she had puppies for vaccination. I really hated to go to any pet shop just for one or two vaccinations as this was time wasting.

"No, I am not grooming dogs,". the pet shop girl's mind was on another planet as she did not get what I meant. I was referring to her preening herself.  

"Would the Silkie Terrier still live if she had been operated by the vet 2 days earlier?"
, the pet shop girl asked me one of several questions in this period of grief. "The vet said she needed an operation after 2 days of antibiotics and drips.  During the weekend, the vet surgery was closed. 

"We telephoned but there was no reply.  Yesterday, the vet phoned to say that a surgery was necessary. The Silkie died during surgery. I did not even see her as she was sent for cremation by my sister. If only she had been operated on earlier."
 

"I do not comment on another vet's case as every case differs." I said to the pet shop girl with the bronze stained hair. "In this case, an earlier operation does not guarantee that the dog would live, since the dog has had been vomiting continuously for several days."

In moments of grief, it is best to provide a listening ear.  From my experience, chances of survival are slim if there is persistent vomiting for many days.

A vet gets the blame when he or she operates and the dog dies, as in this case.   

The toxins from the bacteria infecting the womb would have damaged the kidneys and that was the reason for the daily vomiting.  Sticky vaginal discharge had dirtied the floor tiles.

The owner of this dog was not the grieving pet shop girl. The owner thought that vomiting was common. After all, the dog had occasional vomiting for the past months.

She urged the owner to consult the vet but the owner said that the vomiting was normal as the female dog had vomited occasionally in the past months.

When the 7-year-old female dog collapsed, she took her to a vet.

Would an immediate emergency surgery save the female dog?  It is hard to predict. Whenever the dog dies, the vet sometimes get the blame.

 

In this case, I visited the pet shop regularly for puppy vaccinations and had seen the pet shop girl just a few days ago. 

Free advices and consultations for the past years.  As to why the case was not referred to me, such mysteries do happen to any service provider.   

Coincidentally, I had a case report of a Silkie Terrier having the same problems at:  Closed pyometra in a female dog. Thanks to google search, I was able to retrieve this article for dog lovers.

In conclusion, this Silkie would still be alive if she had been spayed at a young age. 

As the dog grows older, many busy Singapore dog owners have no time for them or ignore signs of poor health for various reasons.

In this case, the chances of this Silkie Terrier surviving if operated 3 days earlier, are very slim. But miracles do happen.

I would advise an immediate emergency surgery. The owner must be thoroughly briefed and know the risks of death on the operating table.

This is because the toxins had accumulated and damaged the kidneys. It was a matter of life and death at this stage. If the dog lives, the owner is always grateful. If not, the owner or her family members bad mouth the vet. The vet has done his or her best. 

Tuesday, Oct 24, 2006.
Deepavali, Singapore. A public holiday.

Cocker Spaniel 18 months, spayed, uterus and ovaries of 2nd heat
A normal uterus in the female dog is not swollen with pus.  Pyometra.  Pus accumulates inside the infected uterus causing it to swell considerably. 

Pet Shop Visit in December 2009

Three years had passed by. I seldom kept in contact with this pet shop girl till recently as I don't go to the shop to do puppy vaccinations. However, I visited to ask her to re-pack some Hill's Prescription d/d dog food for me as many owners want small packets.

Another aged female Cocker Spaniel of around 12 years old, belonging to her sister had open pyometra some months ago. The sister had put the dog on antibiotics for some time. "It is best to spay her," I advised. But the sister just would not want to. I don't know why.

Finally, the dog was operated by another vet and survived. "But I have to provide my dog (Golden Retriever) for blood donation as the platelet count was very low," the pet shop girl said when I visited her pet shop. That was good news. But there was a high cost involved.

Spaying the female dog early would have prevented pyometra in these two cases which were not handled by me or my Surgery.  As an alternative, inspect your female dog monthly. Record her dates when she has her heat. Observe the colour and nature of the blood spots. If the blood looks brownish or yellowish and starchy, it is time to get her spayed. Unfortunately, in closed pyometra, there are no discharge. Just vomiting. Or loss of appetite and lethargy.

It seemed a repeat of history during this visit. There was the pyometra of her sister's dog. There was also a
slim teenaged girl working as a part-timer busy cleaning up the kennels at 11 am when I visited. However, this short girl was not thin She was OK and could be considered "handsome".  But she had a ring in between her nostrils. Her unique selling proposition.

She reminded me of the bulls I saw practice as a 4th year vet student some 30 years ago in Scotland in 1973. Such bulls have a ring between their nostrils if my long-term memory is still intact. Why would such a young teenaged girl with normal good looks put ring her nose I just cannot understand. She hung with her friends past midnight at the Junction 8 shopping mall in Bishan and was working part-time to earn some money.

"Do you want to employ her as a part-timer," the pet shop girl asked me. "She can try out for one day without payment first."

"I need a girl who knows how to write reports and use the Excel and Microsoft Word," I told the pet shop girl.  It is difficult to find such part-timers. I can't employ any nose-ringed girl or boy as part-timers no matter how hard working they are. Buttons embedded in the girl's tongue. Well, I don't know how such girls do it. It must be very painful.  However times have changed for some young adults.

Morning sunlight 10 am. Bougainvillea flowers close up. Singapore. Toa Payoh Vets.As for pyometra in aged female dogs, things have not changed much in the treatment or cure. Prognosis is poor when the owner delays veterinary treatment and when there is vomiting. Spaying would not be of much help once the female dog has persistent vomiting for several weeks as the kidneys had been damaged. Some 10 years ago, I had an uneducated owner bad-mouthing me for not curing the dog after the spay of her persistently vomiting dog. The dog survived the spay but continued vomiting due to kidney disease, not to professional incompetence of spaying! The lady owner did not want any blood test but the cheapest veterinary cost. Sometimes it is best not to handle such personalities who want "cheap and good" veterinary services if the vet cares about the reputation built up over the years. They tend to bad-mouth the vet in the Singapore internet forum nowadays and this webpage will persist forever for people all over the world to see.

For aged female dogs with pyometra, family members may suffer the pain or in this case, the younger sister felt the pain of the suffering of the aged female dog.

For those who believe in prevention of pyometra, spay your female dog early, 3 months after the first heat.   
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