Bloody Wednesday... That's what it was for us, starting at around 3 pm yesterday afternoon. We took delivery of a rug for a friend, and the delivery man carried it into the house for us. Our three puppies (Mako, Cabo, and Ipo) were in their crates in the kitchen, and they went stark raving mad. It's very exciting for them when a stranger comes into the house. Ordinarily that sort of commotion just means a bunch of noise and a chaotic feeling. This time was different, because Ipo had just been spayed a week ago. She managed to split open her incision, about a half inch of it at the end toward her head. A week after the surgery you wouldn't expect that to bleed a lot – but this time it did. Blood wasn't gushing out, but it was flowing steadily and stopped only when I applied pressure through a paper towel.
So Debbie called our vet's office (more on those wonderful people below) while I kept pressure on the wound. There was blood everywhere – in her crate, on her bedding, and (especially) all over the kitchen floor. The paper towel I was using to apply pressure was soaked in it, and my hand looked like it was made of blood. Ipo looked totally unconcerned, other than being curious why her papa was holding her on her back and pressing on her stomach. She obviously wasn't in any pain The vet tech who answered the phone at the vet's office got just enough of a description from Debbie to ascertain that this really was something that needed urgent attention, and then gave us the go-ahead to bring her in immediately. Debbie had the brilliant idea of putting an old washcloth on her belly
and holding it in place with an elastic male incontinence strap that we
had for Mo'i a few years ago; this worked very well (and impressed the vet a little later :)...
One of the things we love about living here is that our wonderful vets are just 3 minutes (and I mean that literally) up the highway from us. Their clinic is on the same road we live on, less than three miles north of us. So about eight minutes after we first noticed the bleeding, we were in the vet's office. By this time we know most of the people there, both vets and vet techs, on a personal level. I take them flowers once in a while (just did last week, actually) when we think they need cheering up. So when we walked in with Ipo in my arms, it was a bit like walking into a friend's house. At this point the bleeding had slowed down to a seep. The vet techs got everyone notified right away. Dr. Clark happened to see us in the lobby, and came over to check Ipo out. He was obviously unworried (a relief to us) and said he'd see us as soon as he'd finished with the patient he was working on. A few minutes later, we were in with Dr. Clark and he gave her a quick check before telling us what was going on – and to assure us that there was nothing to worry about.
It seems that when they do the spay, they actually make two incisions. The first is through the outer skin layer, the second through the muscle layer that's just inside the skin. When they're done with the surgery, they make two sets of stitches: one to close the muscle incision the other to close the skin. Sometimes the dog will accumulate blood and plasma in the area between the muscle and the skin. That's what happened to Ipo: there was some fluid (probably on the order of a cup's worth) buildup there, and when the skin incision split open, that accumulated fluid started flowing out. None of this is harmful to the dog. He made sure she didn't have any sort of infection, then put one staple in the place where the incision had split and sent us home. That's it!
The competence and proximity of our vets is a great source of comfort to us. For many years, when we lived in Jamul, California, we were a 45 minute drive from our vet. We always worried about what would happen if we needed a vet urgently. Fortunately for us, that need was never tested, though we did have a few incidents that were rather too close for comfort. The fact that we like all the staff there is just some very nice icing on the cake...