Uterine Prolapse

May, 1999

Uterine prolapse is an uncommon complication to whelping. A prolapse occurs when an organ turns inside out and protrudes through a normal body opening. Anal and rectal prolapses occur from straining to defecate. Prolapse of the uterus occurs from a prolonged labor, up to 48 hours after whelping, when the cervix is extremely dialated. It has been known to happen in first-time pregnancies, but is most likely after a bitch has had several litters, with or without complications. The reasons for a uterus to prolapse may involve stretching of muscles, severe straining during intense labor contractions or an underlying unhealthy uterus with endometritis.
Because a dog’s uterus is Y-shaped with 2 long horns, either one horn or both may prolapse into or through the vagina. If only one horn prolapses and the other horn still contains live pups, they will likely need to be delivered by Caesarean section.
If the bitch and the uterus appear to be in healthy condition, the uterus may be able to be manually replaced. This will probably require a general anesthetic. It is highly recommended to spay the dog at the earliest opportunity. A prolapsed uterus has decreased bloodflow due to constricted blood vessels. This can lead to a permanently devitalized uterus and, more importantly, the bitch may be in a shocky condition, weak or non-responsive. This is a life-threatening situation, and the dog needs to be stabilized, probably with intravenous fluids, before anesthesia is given to remove the uterus.

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