CRITTER CARE

Unspayed dogs susceptible to uterine infection

‘Pit bull’ on city streets treated by warden, available

7/15/2013
BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Anthony LaRocca and Lyndsey Leady hold Polly. The 4-year-old dog almost died from an infection of the uterus.
Anthony LaRocca and Lyndsey Leady hold Polly. The 4-year-old dog almost died from an infection of the uterus.

Getting picked up by the Lucas County Dog Warden on March 13 might have been the best thing to ever happen to Polly, a black and white “pit bull”-type dog.

The 4-year-old female, who was running at large on Lawton Avenue in Toledo, was suffering from a uterine infection, otherwise known as pyometra, to which unspayed dogs are susceptible.

Dr. Cindy Thurston, veterinarian for the dog warden, spayed the dog and put her on antibiotics.

“She almost died,” said Laura Simmons, operations manager at the pound. “She was very sick for a bit and we didn’t think that she would make it.”

Dr. Thurston nursed Polly back to health and the dog was transferred to the Lucas County Pit Crew, which has the dog in foster care, seeking a home.

Pyometra usually occurs in middle-aged female dogs that are unspayed — meaning, they still have the organs necessary for reproducing. It is a common reproductive disorder which affects nearly a fourth of all female dogs before age 10, according to research by the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

If Polly hadn’t been picked up by the dog warden, she may have died on the streets from the infection. Her uterus could have ruptured, similarly to how infected appendixes can rupture.

“It’s much more common in dogs, but it does happen in cats,” said Dr. Gary Thompson, a veterinarian at West Suburban Veterinary Hospital in Sylvania Township. “Treatment is usually with emergency surgery since they present with vague symptoms of increased thirst and urination, lethargy, and no outward sign of a uterine infection.”

The disease is much easier to prevent — by spaying the dog when it is healthy — than it is to treat, he said.


Unneutered male dogs middle-aged or older can suffer from something similar — prostate problems.

“Again, it’s much easier to prevent then treat,” Dr. Thompson said. “It is very difficult to clear prostate infections once established.”

Polly was completely bald when she was taken in two months ago by Pit Crew foster volunteer Lyndsey Leady.

“They think it was a side effect from the stress of her infection mixed with the stress of life at the dog warden,” said Ms. Leady, who lives in Toledo’s Point Place area with her fiance, Anthony LaRocca.

Since getting some TLC from Ms. Leady, Polly’s hair has grown back and she has blossomed, said Ms. Leady, who has been taking care of such animals for about three years.

“She’s very mellow and low-key,” Ms. Leady said. “She’s housebroken, crate-trained, and good with kids and other dogs. She walks well on a leash. She’s really the total package. She even lets me paint her nails.”

The young dog loves to play fetch and “goes crazy” for peanut butter-filled rubber Kong toys.

“She could go to any home, she’s literally the perfect dog,” Ms. Leady said. “I feel like a lot of people overlook her because she’s black. Black dogs are always overlooked.”

For more information about adopting Polly, email pitcrewapplication@gmail.com for an application to adopt or visit lucascountypitcrew.com.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @TanyaIrwin.