Is Your Dog Not Eating After Pyometra Surgery? (Here’s What You Need To Do)

dog not eating after pyometra surgery

You’ve weathered the storm of your dog’s pyometra surgery but now you’re faced with a new challenge. Your dog just won’t eat.

You’re not alone.

My dog has gone through days when food was the last thing on its mind.

Female dogs are known to suffer from pyometra which is an infection of the uterus or womb.

But why is your dog not eating after pyometra surgery?

After your dog’s pyometra surgery, there will be some side effects from the anesthetic agents and pain medication. Your dog won’t be feeling like its usual self for a few days. Your dog won’t have much of an appetite but this will improve over time. You need to inform the vet if it has not eaten anything after more than 24 hours.

In this post, we’ll share actionable tips and insights to help you understand your dog’s needs and support its recovery

What Is Pyometra?

“Pyometra can be life-threatening if left untreated.”

Pyometra is a health condition that only affects female dogs as it is an infection of the lining of the uterus or womb. The main course of this infection is due to hormonal changes in the female dog.

Pyometra only affects dogs that are still intact and is more commonly seen in older dogs.

When the female dog is in heat, her hormonal levels are elevated to prepare her for pregnancy by increasing the thickness of the uterus lining.

The thickening of the lining continues even when the dog isn’t impregnated.

When this happens, cysts can start to form in the walls and the lining will also secrete fluids which can promote the growth of bacteria.

There can also be the presence of pus from the infection.

The bacteria will release toxins that will enter the dog’s bloodstream and make her ill.

Pyometra can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Symptoms of pyometra in dogs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excess thirst
  • Diarrhea

If your dog is leaking clear vaginal discharge, it could be a sign of the early stages of pyometra.

The discharge and symptoms will get worse as the infection progresses up to the point of even being life-threatening.

How Is Pyometra Treated?

Pyometra surgery is typically considered an emergency procedure due to the high risk of a ruptured uterus which can lead to septic shock and death.

The best way to treat this condition is with surgery to remove the entire uterus and ovaries of the dog.

Many vets advise against removing only the infected areas as the infection can reoccur after the surgery.

Pyometra surgery can be considered an invasive surgery as it involves the removal of your dog’s reproductive parts.

On average, the surgery takes about an hour to complete or longer for larger dog breeds.

Why Isn’t My Dog Eating After Her Pyometra Surgery?

Even though the surgery might be a success, there are post-surgery factors that can affect your dog’s appetite

The Use Of Anesthesia

dog under general anesthesia

Every type of surgery involves the usage of anesthesia to ensure that your dog is out cold during the procedure and doesn’t feel any pain.

Anesthesia works by interrupting nerve signals in your dog’s brain and body. This stops the body from sending pain signals and causes the brain to ‘shut down’.

After the surgery is over and your dog is awake, the anesthetic agent will still be present in your dog.

This will cause your dog to still be very drowsy and behave rather weirdly for the next 12-124 hours.

Your dog will be more interested in sleeping than eating once it is back home.

I wouldn’t be too concerned if your dog doesn’t want to eat much on the first day.

When I brought my dog home after his neutering, he couldn’t even stand up straight let alone find his way to his food bowl.

He spent the next 10 hours sleeping on my bed and only started to nibble on some treats when he woke up.

Intubation

“Your dog’s sore throat might put it off food for a short period of time until the throat recovers.”

When your dog is under general anesthesia, it might have trouble or difficulties breathing on its own.

To prevent this from happening, the vet will insert a rather long tube called the endotracheal tube down your dog’s throat.

This tube will help transport oxygen down into your dog’s lungs to help it breathe. Your dog’s throat is very sensitive and can be easily irritated by the tube.

After the tube is removed, your dog might be coughing due to the irritation. Some dogs can even have a raspy bark or a mild post-surgical cough.

Your dog’s sore throat might put it off food for a short period of time until the throat recovers.

Pain Medication

tablets for dogs

Besides administering anesthesia to your dog during the procedure, pain control medication will also be given to help protect the dog’s nervous system from pain.

The vet will also prescribe some pain medication for you to continue feeding your dog when it is home until the pain subsides.

Pain meds can have a powerful effect on some dogs as it makes them feel more lethargic and nauseous after the surgery.

It can also make your dog feel nauseous which can put it off food for some time.

Feeling Of Stress And Anxiety

Many dogs will experience anxiety post-surgery. Medical procedures can be very stressful for dogs especially if they have a fear of going to the vet.

Some dogs can experience a drop in appetite after being attacked by another dog. This can also be due to the psychological stress of the incident.

Unlike humans, it isn’t possible to explain to your dog what just happened and why it was necessary.

Your dog wouldn’t be able to understand why it is feeling all this pain and discomfort as well.

These emotions can cause your dog to lose its appetite until it starts to come around a few days later.

How Do I Get My Dog To Eat?

All is not lost if your dog doesn’t want to eat after its surgery or doesn’t have much of an appetite.

Here are some ways that you can employ to help stoke a little fire in your dog’s belly.

Keep It Bland

“A ratio of 1:3 rice to chicken would be a good mix for your dog.”

The use of anesthetic agents and pain medication can cause your dog to feel queasy.

Chances are, it wouldn’t be too keen on its regular food for now.

Try substituting your dog’s regular food with something like boiled chicken and rice. You can also use rabbit or turkey meat which is easy for dogs to digest.

I wouldn’t use red meat like duck, lamb or beef as they are high in fat which might not agree with your dog’s stomach for now.

Most dogs are ok with some carbs in their diet but I wouldn’t go overboard with the rice portion as dogs are still carnivores at heart.

A ratio of 1:3 rice to chicken would be a good mix for your dog.

Some dog owners have success with baby food too but make sure there are no toxic ingredients like onion or garlic in it.

Refrain from feeding your dog any of its favorite human foods as its digestive system isn’t in the best shape yet.

Use Bone Broth

soaking dog food in chicken broth

Homemade bone broth is my secret go-to ingredient whenever my dog or cat isn’t eating as well as usual.

It is easy to make and has nutritional benefits for our pets.

All you have to do is to boil chicken bones in a pot of water for about 30 minutes to an hour to let all the flavor seep into the water.

Once the broth has cooled, you can soak your dog’s food in the broth to add some flavor to its food and help with its poor appetite.

You don’t have to restrict yourself to just chicken bones, beef bones, pork bones or even fish bones

One important thing to remember is to NEVER feed your dog any of the cooked bones.

Cooked bones are hard and brittle and can break into small sharp pieces easily. These dangerous pieces can cause harm to your dog’s mouth and internal organs.

The use of bone broth is also a good way to get your dog to drink more water after its surgery.

Dogs can go for weeks without eating in the wild but are not able to survive without water after a few days.

Warm Up The Food

“Dogs and cats have a great sense of smell.”

I find eating food (besides desserts) that is cold or at room temperature rather repulsive. It just tastes like a lump of tasteless playdoh to me.

My food needs to be piping hot before I find it tasty.

I’m glad that my dog isn’t fussy like me but by warming up your dog’s food just a little, you can help it eat more.

Dogs and cats have a great sense of smell.

By heating up the food, the food particles and molecules will vibrate faster and move further away from the food.

This will allow the dog to get a much better whiff of its meal and hopefully stimulate its appetite further.

You don’t have to warm up your dog’s food till it’s boiling hot. Just a few seconds in the microwave would suffice.

Be sure to check the food’s temperature with your fingertip before serving it to your dog.

Excessively hot food could cause burns to your pet’s mouth.

Hand Feed Your Dog

hand feed dog

There’s nothing that sends a strong message to your dog about your care and concern than hand-feeding your pup.

Many years ago after my cat got back from his dental surgery, he was pretty messed up.

He was really lethargic and refused to eat.

The amount that he ate over the next few days was not even equivalent to his one full meal.

I was at my wit’s end and sat next to him during his meal time.

I placed some of this food in the palm of my hand and stroked his head while I brought the food to his mouth.

And to my surprise, he started licking the food off my hand.

Maybe he already had his appetite or could sense my desperation and forced himself to eat some.

Regardless, it worked and is worth a try.

Manage The Pain

Your dog will be going through some pain and discomfort. These sensations can discourage your dog from eating which isn’t a good thing.

The vet will most likely prescribe some pain meds to help manage post-surgery discomfort.

Make sure to feed your dog as intended as per the recommended dosage.

Once your dog feels more comfortable, its appetite should get better too.

How Long Is The Recovery Period After Pyometra Surgery?

dog cone not working for dog

Even though pyometra surgery is similar to getting your dog spayed, how fast your dog recovers depends on how unwell your dog was before surgery.

For general spaying, most dogs can fully recover within 7-10 days. Dogs with pyometra that are treated early can recover within the same period.

Your dog might not be eating all its food at once like before but it’s more important for your dog to be eating some than to not eat at all.

But for dogs that have advanced pyometra, it will require a more complicated surgical procedure.

Recovery can take a lot longer especially if there’s damage to the kidneys and sepsis (blood infection).

How Long Can A Dog Go Without Eating?

In the very extreme of cases, a dog can go about 3-5 days without food as long as it is still drinking water.

Anything longer than that and the dog will start to die of starvation.

You do not want to wait so long before doing something about it. If my dog doesn’t eat anything for more than 24 hours, he’s headed for the vet.

An animal’s appetite is an excellent barometer of its health.

Please do not feed your dog human medications of any kind to try and stimulate its appetite. That will do more harm than good.

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