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Uterine Abnormalities in Dogs

Subinvolution of Placental Sites in Dogs

The involution process of the uterus involves its contraction to its pre-pregnancy size following the delivery of offspring, typically occurring over 12-15 weeks. Subinvolution, however, refers to the failure or delay in this natural process. It tends to affect female dogs younger than three years old, especially those having their first litter. This condition can occur across all breeds and warrants veterinary attention to distinguish it from other reproductive issues, despite not usually posing a significant health risk.


In affected dogs, systemic signs are generally absent. The primary complaint typically involves a persistent sticky discharge from the vulva (the vaginal opening) extending beyond the six-week postpartum period, prompting owners to seek medical attention.


The exact cause is unknown, but there seems to be a heightened risk among young and/or inexperienced dogs.


Your veterinarian will gather your dog’s medical history and perform a physical examination to assess overall health. Routine laboratory tests, including a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, usually yield normal results in these cases. Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays to visualize the internal abdomen, should be employed to detect a thickened uterine wall.


In some cases, symptoms of the condition resolve spontaneously either before or during the next estrus cycle (heat). Medical therapy may be necessary to address complications if they arise. While most cases do not result in complications, severe anemia may occur rarely, necessitating a blood transfusion to save the patient’s life. If the condition adversely affects your dog’s health, surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus may be recommended by your veterinarian, especially if future breeding is not intended. This surgical intervention typically resolves the problem permanently.

However, if you plan to breed your dog again and your veterinarian approves, subsequent pregnancies are usually uneventful with no major concerns. The success of subsequent pregnancies may be influenced by your dog’s overall health and her response to the breeding process.

Living and Management

Complications are rare in patients with this condition. However, if complications related to subinvolution arise, anemia is a potential issue to watch for. It’s important to closely monitor your dog’s mucous membranes to ensure an adequate blood supply. Any changes in membrane color—whether they appear pale or bluish—should be promptly reported to your veterinarian for further assessment. Laboratory tests are also recommended to evaluate for possible anemia.

Additionally, keep an eye out for any excessive vaginal discharge and inform your veterinarian about its consistency, color, and quantity.

In cases where there’s no infection, spontaneous remission occurs, or surgery has been used to address the issue, the overall prognosis is typically excellent. Patients usually recover without further complications.

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