by Dr. Terry E. Reed
Over the past several years there have been various types of metritis (uterine infections) that have been identified throughout most parts of the United States.
It has been proven that various types of the infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics & hormones. The specific type of antibiotic depends upon the specific type of infection that is present. Therefore, it is impossible to give a specific type of antibiotic to utilize as it would relate to the type of infectious agent that is causing the problem. The various types of hormones that are utilized will depend upon the time the animals are injected. If the animals are injected within the first 24 hours after kindling, one usually utilizes Oxytocin U.S.P. for the evacuation effect it has upon the uterus to constrict very rapidly. When the uterus constricts, this forces all the foreign materials that may be contained in the uterus, as a result of kindling, out of the uterus so it does not allow infection to take place.
If the animal is injected after 24 hours of kindling, it is then recommended that one use some type of estrogen product in order to enhance the blood supply to the uterus. By the utilization of estrogen with the antibiotic, this allows the antibiotic to be much more effective.
Holland Lops probably have more difficulty in parturition (kindling) than many of the other breeds due to the fact that these breeds are noted for their very large bold heads. This often times presents a problem as the kits are delivered & this large head has difficulty in passing through the narrow pelvis. Often times, this will slow the birthing process down & causes enhanced incidents of uterine infections. Once an animal has a uterine infection, there is a portion of that uterus that becomes nonfunctional & will not have a sufficient blood supply to maintain a pregnancy. Therefore, it is very important that these infections be kept at a minimum due to the fact that the Holland Lop will usually only have from 2 to 5 kits. If there has been a scaring of the inside of the uterus, due to infection, the litter size dwindles even further & often times it is very difficult to get the animals bred.
In my opinion, particularly in the breed described, I feel it is very important that the breeders inject the animal with at least Oxytocin within the first 24 hours after kindling. The Oxytocin can be obtained in some states from farm stores; or it may need to be obtained from your veterinarian. The dosage for Oxytocin will be one-fourth cc per animal. This should be administered subcutaneously or intramuscularly within 24 hours after kindling. If one does not inject the Oxytocin with in 24 hours, it loses its effectiveness in causing the uterus to contract. The purpose of injecting the Oxytocin is that it causes the uterus to constrict pushing out all the debris of kindling; particularly, any retained kits or retained afterbirth.
Some individuals, in addition to injecting Oxytocin within 24 hours after kindling, will also inject a small amount of Penicillin G to assist in preventing any infections. There is some very strong evidence that the administration of Oxytocin & Penicillin G, post kindling, will enhance the future breeding & will reduce the number of does that must be eliminated from the herd due to breeding problems. Penicillin G is usually utilized as a general antibiotic & is administered at the rate of 200,000 international units per ten pounds of body weight.
Some of the signs of metritis are enhanced breeding problems, increased amount of stillborn kits in the litter, does that fail to show maternal instincts & mother the kits, does that scatter kits on the wire, vaginal discharge, & multiple pinpoint abscesses around the vaginal area or in the sheath of the male animal.
HLRSC Official Guidebook - 5th Edition 2002