Many of the younger generation in Singapore loves their old dogs much more as they spend their growing up years with the dog. Generally, I find that the wife is much more caring than the husband when it comes to a dog with serious illness requiring much expenses in treatment.
Nowadays, with proper care, many of my patients whom I see as puppies are now over 10 years old and diseases of the uterus and breast manifest. One of them is pyometra. It is a relatively common disease in the older female dog and sometimes much harder to detect when there is no discharge of pus as in this 13-year-old female Pomeranian which was presented with vomiting during boarding at the kennel.
The kennel operator was most alert and rushed her down to the Toa Payoh Vets as the owners were overseas. An emergency spay was done when the owner returned to Singapore. This was a most unusual case in that sticky strands of tissue stick the intestines together and to the uterus. The bladder adheres to the uterus. There was likely a leakage of the toxins from the gigantic swollen uterus into the peritoneal cavity, causing reactions of inflammation and stickiness of organs.
The dog was practically recumbent and comatose and the chances of survival were practically nil. However, there was a request by the wife and young adult son to operate. The dog survived the surgery but passed away the next day. Personally, I was affected by the death of any patient under anaesthesia but this case had a very poor chance of survival as the dog was in a comatose-state but delay would lead to uterine rupture, spilling all pus into the abdomen and leading to death.
For other dog owners, it may be best to do annual health screening or to spay the female dog when she is young.
Yesterday, two young ladies came in the evening with a 10-year-old terrier X. The dog has two undescended testicles. The left one now has grown gigantic within 2 months to the size of a hen's egg. The right one was not cancerous, being half the size of a quail's egg.
"Undescended testicles may become cancerous in old age in dogs as well as in man," I asked whether she knew about the famous cyclist Armstrong who had testicular cancer. "At this old age, the anaesthetic risks are very high. Why didn't you neuter the dog when he was young?"
"We thought it was not necessary. What if I don't do the surgery?"
"The cancer cells will rot later. The dog would lick the swelling till the skin is thinned. Then the skin ulcerates and the tumour falls out."
"So you have no choice but to get surgery done now or later when the dog is not active."
The dog would be neutered 2 days later. A health screening using blood test would be done and the dog would be on antibiotics.