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Date:   11 October, 2010  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
2003 Case: Nymphomania in the female dog - Hyperestrogenism?
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Case  written: 6 March 2003 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

Heads turned when she walked into the veterinary surgery. Then all the four males gravitated towards her wanting to make friends with her. Mr Chan held her up high as he was worried about his constant companion. 

The males could not tear themselves away from her. They had big rolling eyes and looked at her in a non-threatening way, a romantic sort of interest. 

She was nonchalant, unfazed by the attention of males, as if she was the princess used to such adulation of the opposite sex and the jealousies and envies of her gender.

"Why is your bitch panting?" I asked Mr Chan as the Silkie put out her tongue and breathed very fast, as if she had sprinted hard. "Is she always panting at home too?"  The middle-aged Silkie Terrier was brought in for her annual vaccination and if she was panting, she might be having a fever or was not well and therefore was not fit to be vaccinated.

"No," Mr Chan said. This was a good looking blonde Silkie. If four male dogs at the Surgery were interested in her, she must be on heat and emitting an attractive smell which make  male dogs refusing to go away and their owners were rather upset as well. 

I quickly closed the consultation room door.

The bitch was never pregnant but her nipples were much longer than those of a maiden bitch.  As if she had been pregnant and had nursed puppies. 

I continued the examination. 

"Beware of her, she bites sometimes when she is moody." Mr Chan cautioned me. 

Never judge a book by the cover. She looked like a very nice lovable cute Silkie terrier bitch. She was quiet during examination. No ovarian tumours or cysts large enough to be felt as I pressed my fingers against her slim abdomen.

I said: "The vulval lips were too swollen, around twenty times larger than normal. It is not normal and this was a sign of an excessive production of the feminising hormones by the ovaries.  The medical name was hyperestrogenism and it is more common in middle-aged to old dogs." 

The hair around the lower thighs and vulval area thins out, as a result of hyperestrogenism. 

"What will be the effects on her health?" Mr Chan asked.

"She may have prolonged episodes of vaginal bleeding but you may not notice this as she licks off the blood, being a clean bitch. Continual bleeding will lead to loss of blood and then anaemia.  The bitch will feel tired and short of breath on the slightest exertion. In addition, she produces pheromones which are naturally occurring chemicals. These elicit sexual behaviors and attract the opposite sex. Pheromones are detected by the Vomeronasal Organ in the Nasal Pit directly under the nose. When the Organ receives a pheromone scent, it sends a message to the brain that creates a subconscious increase in sexual desire."  

"What is the solution?"

"One way is to remove the cystic ovaries or functional ovarian tumour such as granulosa-theca cell tumour. This will  stop the excessive production of the feminizing sex hormones such as estradiol, estriol and estrone.  These hormones are produced by the ovary, testes (in the male dog), adrenal cortex and by the peripheral conversion of precursor hormones and affect the skin (failure of hair to grow after clipping, bilateral, symmetrical alopecia beginning at the flank and perineum), urogenital tract (enlarged vulva, blood in the urine) and the haematopoietic system, causing bone marrow suppression and anaemia". 

"Does this mean that my bitch is a nymphomaniac?  Do male dogs suffer from hyperestrogenism and mounts all dogs all the time too?" Mr Chan asked.   

"Your bitch may or may not be a nymphomaniac, depending on the amount of the endogenous hormones produced.  Yes, Male dogs with tumours in the testicles such as the Sertoli cell tumour, a seminoma or interstitial cell tumour, small atrophied testicles, cryptorchidism pendulous prepuce." I said although I doubt Mr Chan understood all these medical terms.

"Removal of the ovaries will lead to a reduction of female hormone production. This was also not good for the bitch. Would she then be in premature menopause?" Mr Chan asked.

"Yes," 3rd eyelid gland grows to protrude out of the eyelid on the right eye.I said. "There is another medical condition. She has a "cherry" eye on the left eye. This is an enlarged protruding eyelid gland at the inner corner of the eye blocking the flow of tears into the nose. She may need an operation to remove or tuck in the gland." 

An annual veterinary examination at least told Mr Chan what's was the health status of his companion.   

Mr Chan just wanted to vaccinate his dog and would wait for some time before deciding on what to do.  The bitch appeared normal and therefore there was no urgency for surgery. 

The Port of Singapore Authority had retrenched hundreds of employees and the Housing Development Board wants to retrench around 900 employees.  Manufacturing firms had closed down and relocated to China, Malaysia and Indonesia where the cost of rentals and labour are at least ten times lower. It was gloom and doom in many families in Singapore. Therefore, it was important to preserve cash as he did not know when he would be retrenched in the private company he was working.


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