Subinvolution of Placental Sites in Dogs
Involution of the uterus is the process by which the uterus contracts to its non-pregnant size after the delivery of the young. This usually takes 12-15 weeks to complete. Subinvolution, on the other hand, is the failure or delay in this normal process. This problem is more common in female dogs that are younger than three years of age, and/or in dogs that have experienced their first litter. All breeds are equally susceptible to this problem.
This is usually not a significant health problem, but because it resembles other reproductive problems, it must be checked by a veterinarian and differentiated as such.
Symptoms and Types
Generally, no systemic signs are present in these dogs. The only complaint is a sticky discharge from the vulva (vaginal opening) that goes beyond the six-week postpartum period, which provokes the owner to seek medical advice.
Unknown, but young and/or inexperienced dogs appear to be at increased risk.
Your veterinarian will take background medical history and will also conduct a physical examination to evaluate your dog's overall health. The results of the routine laboratory tests include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, all of which are typically normal in these patients. Diagnostic imaging should be used to view the internal abdomen; X-rays may reveal a thick walled uterus.
In some patients, the disease symptoms resolve spontaneously before or at the next point in the estrus cycle (i.e., heat). In case of complications, medical therapy may be required to resolve these symptoms. In most cases, there are no complications, but in rare instances, severe anemia is present and a blood transfusion may be required to save the life of the patient. If it appears to be affecting your dog's health in an adverse way, your veterinarian may recommend surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus. If future breeding is not desired, this is the best option. Surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries is normally helpful in permanently resolving the problem.
If, however, you do wish to breed your dog again, and your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead, in most cases, subsequent pregnancies are normal and there are no concerns. This may depend on the overall health of your dog and her response to the breeding process.
Living and Management
Few complications are known to occur in patients with this condition. In the rare instance that there is a complication related to subinvolution, anemia is one of the most likely problems. You will need to closely observe your dog's mucous membranes to make sure that her blood supply is sufficient. Any change in the color of the membranes -- whether they are pale or bluish in color -- should be reported to your veterinarian immediately for further evaluation. Laboratory testing is also recommended for assessing the status of a possibly anemic condition. Similarly, you will need to watch for any excess discharge from the vagina and report to your veterinarian about the consistency, color and quantity of the discharge.
In cases that are absent of infection, show spontaneous remission, or where surgery has been employed to resolve the issue, the overall prognosis is generally excellent and the patient recovers without any further complications.