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Hi all, new to these forums. Quick back story, we found our little Viv in the beginning of October running loose on a busy street. We had placed multiple lost ads and went knocking on doors, and after a month of nobody contacting us, we decided to keep her since she won us over from day 1 anyway.

We got her spayed at a low cost clinic last Wed. (Nov 27th) she was doing as well as can be expected for the first two days after surgery, with only one incident where she jumped off our lap suddenly.

Her incision looks fine, and isn't infected, however Saturday she started becoming very lethargic, and losing interest in food, and then just started hanging out in her bed and not even wanting to get up.

Sunday we had to hand feed her and bring the water to her. She was (and still is) using the bathroom just fine, no vomiting or diarrhea.

This morning we took her back to the low cost clinic and they said she wasn't bleeding internally and didn't have an infection, and sent us on our way. I wasn't happy with that answer, and I knew something was wrong, so we took her to our regular vet.

He said the same thing about infection, at least at the incision site...everything looked good on the outside. However, she had a 103 fever and was very hot to the touch (since Saturday)...and he thought she had an infection of some kind inside.

He gave her a high dose shot of Keflex antibiotic and told us if she isn't better by tomorrow to call and they might need to do surgery to find out what is going on inside.

I will also add, they gave us Rimadyl for pain relief, we were giving her 1 half of a pill each day up til yesterday. I had NO idea it was Rimadyl because it was labeled Carprofen. Our other dog almost died taking Rimadyl and I am very upset with myself for not checking before giving it to Viv.

We got her to eat a decent amount of boiled chicken around noon today, and she has drank water when we bring it to her and coax her.

Does anyone have any advice here? I am scared to death that we'll lose her, she isn't herself and so lethargic. It's breaking my heart. Could the Rimadyl cause these symptoms? Has anyone else ever heard of anything like this?
 

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Serious complications following a spay are rare and usually come down to infection (damage to the intestines being the most serious cause), damage to the urinary tract (lacerations to the bladder or accidentally closing off one of the ureters coming from the kidney), or kidney problems secondary to anesthesia/decreased blood pressure. It is very common for dogs to be lethargic following anesthesia/surgery. Pain is often underappreciated, and is a common cause of delayed recovery. The very low grade fever may or may not mean anything (stress and post-surgical inflammation can drive the body temperature into the 103 range). The fact that your dog is eating/drinking/urinating are all good signs.
My personal standard is to check some bloodwork if a pet is not recovering well to look at the red cell count (bleeding), the white cell count (infection), and the kidney values. Bloodwork would also allow you to look at the liver, since you are concerned with possible problems secondary to Rimadyl. If she is having any abdominal distention or pain, your vet may want to perform an "abdominocentesis" (putting a needle into the abdomen to see what fluid/cells are obtained), or even an abdominal lavage (putting saline into the abdomen and then removing it, as a more sensitive measure of what is happening in the abdomen). Having to go back in surgically is truly rare, and you should have some serious abnormality on bloodwork or abdominocentesis to justify doing so.
 

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Thank you so much for the very detailed reply. It does help ease my mind.

She ate more chicken this morning, and has been drinking water all day. Still very lethargic but has gotten up on her own today a few times to move to another position which she wasn't doing yesterday. Still going to the bathroom as well.

She doesn't feel super hot to the touch anymore. Sunday-Monday she was radiating heat! Her eyes look a little more bright today, but perhaps I am just looking and hoping for something that might not be there.

At what point should I look into taking her back for the blood work if she isn't better? After the shot of Keflex the vet said we should see small improvement each day, by the weekend with her being back to normal.

And also, everything I read about spaying makes it seem like they should be back to themselves bouncing around with energy within a few days. How much of her lethargy could be related to her just still being in pain? I forgot to add, she is a 6 pound chihuahua mix and is roughly a year or so old...so she is young and was healthy before surgery.

Once again I thank you so so much for your detailed reply. I have been crying my eyes out for three days now, it's just terrible to sit by and watch helplessly when they can't tell you what their symptoms are :(
 

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Most dogs recover very quickly after surgery, but a small number do not. To some extent this also depends upon what anesthetic drugs were used. Most of the newer anesthetic drugs are very short acting and have minimal side effects, but there are a lot of the older ones still in use, and with some of these the recovery can be much slower.
If she is steadily improving, eating well, and increasingly active than likely you are OK to continue to observe her. If she is not continuing to recover, or if she relapses, I would work her up further. If you think that the fever returns you can certainly check a rectal temperature at home (normal ranges from 100.5 to 102.5).
The pain factor is hard to measure. Most dogs seem only mildly to moderately painful following a spay procedure, but some dogs are definitely more painful. There are also a lot of factors in the surgeons procedure itself that can influence the degree of pain. (Were the Rectus muscles cut, torn, or bluntly separated? Was the peritoneum over the kidneys torn when the uterus was elevated? Did the surgeon enclose muscle when closing the Rectus sheath or just the tougher midline tissue?). So, we treat for pain (or we should!) in all dogs, and in a small number treat much more aggressively if they seem more painful. Good luck. Update us when you get a chance.
 

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If she is not improving I would get a second opinion. There is such a thing as a stump pyometra. Rare but it happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well this morning we saw a big improvement in Viv. She woke up and was happy to see us, she stretched a bunch and came over to lick our faces. She went and got water on her own! And went outside willingly. We had an easy morning after that I kept her with me in bed, still and quiet even though I think she wanted to be more active. She is also grooming herself now as well...something she hasn't done in days. Her eyes are alert and bright now.

She ate twice yesterday, and ate this morning without us having to coax her. She also ate two mini cookies when she came in from going potty a little while ago, so she is showing interest in food again which is a HUGE relief. She is also following me if I leave the room.

Two days ago, she wouldn't even lift her head on her own and was so lethargic that she just laid there uninterested in everything. So to me this seems like a decent improvement.

At this point, if she continues to show signs of improvement do you think it is safe to say she'll recover and I don't need to take her back to the vet again?

And once again I thank you very much for all your information. I have learned more from you than both of the vets I saw combined! If you have a good vet you can recommend in the Fort Worth, TX area please let me know ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi beardiedawg, we are not too far from Keller, my chiropractor is actually in Keller. But we're right on the boarder of Saginaw in Fort Worth.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I am in that area at least once a week anyway, and it'd be worth it to me to find a vet I am really happy with. I'd drive to Dallas if I had to. The one we see now isn't terrible but I don't love him either, and feel like we could be more informed. We have four dogs and give them a lot of business, and he has suggested things to me or prescribed things to our dogs that I didn't feel comfortable with more than once.

You can either message me your vets name or put it here, and thanks for your reply :) stay safe and warm in this crazy weather we're having here this weekend!
 

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Update: Overall she is back to her normal self, and doing MUCH better. She is eating, drinking, active and happy again.

However one thing I have noticed is that she starts choking a few times a day. At first I thought it was reverse sneezing but I am thinking it may be her actual throat closing up. Could this be a side effect of surgery? Something I should take her in for and get checked? How long would a dogs throat stay irritated or sore after a surgery? It's been 10 days now, but the choking started about 3 days ago. She never had this before.

Thank you all again for your input, it really helped me a lot. I am just so thankful that my little baby is recovering.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I looked up symptoms of kennel cough, it doesn't seem like that is it. She isn't coughing, it's more gasping inwards for air. Our other chihuahua reverse sneezes all the time, and it sounds sort of similar to that but it looks like her throat is collapsing or something and it isn't rhythmic.

Other than that she is still doing just fine. I do want to take her by the vet to get this looked at though...but we've been iced in our house for 4 days now with this stupid ice storm. Roads are frozen solid :( hope it clears up soon.
 

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Could she possibly have something stuck in her throat that she may have swallowed sideways or something? Just a thought. Hopefully it is just an irritation of sorts.
 
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