If the ligaments that hold the uterus in place become limp, the organ may sag and protrude from the opening of the vagina.
The symptoms of a uterine prolapse often occur suddenly. If the incident is not limited to the interior of the body, a pinkish/reddish mass of mucous membrane may protrude through the labia. Depending on the size of the female, and the extent of the incident this protruding part may be as big as a lemon. Outside of the body the mucous membrane is exposed to mechanical influences, which can lead to inflammations, injuries and a drying-up of the tissue. If not immediately treated, it might lead to infections and tissue breakdown. In this situation a dangerous blood poisoning, known as sepsis, might develop.
Vagina related incidents frequently occur after pregnancy or heat. In case of a pregnancy, the ligaments of the uterus are often still stretched and therefore move freely in the abdomen. In unfavorable circumstances, the uterus can sink down into the vagina and push through the vulva. Hormonal imbalances during heat may also have similar effects and cause a uterine prolapse. Larger breeds are more often affected. Some breeds, such as Dalmatians or Doberman Pinschers have a genetic predisposition for this disease.
The visual appearance of the disease is usually sufficient to diagnose a uterine prolapse. A small surgical procedure performed with the dog under anesthesia is needed to put the uterus back in its place, and to treat any smaller damage and injury. Afterwards, the vulva is closed with a circular suture and left like this for 10 days to prevent a recurring incident and to give the tissue some time to recover. Unfortunately, female dogs that already have had a uterine prolapse before have a high risk of recurrence. In this case, spaying is the most effective method of prevention. If that is not possible, hormonal treatment may lower the risk.
Immediately consult a veterinarian if your dog shows symptoms of a uterine prolapse.