Aside from the frequent spays and neuters I’ve seen at the clinic, another common surgery I’ve seen performed has been a pyometra surgery. There usually aren’t this many pyometras presented to the clinic, but there has coincidently been an increased number of them while I’ve been on my externship!
Pyometra is a common illness in adult intact (non-spayed) female dogs and cats, where the uterus is filled with pus due to a bacterial infection. The infection can be acute or chronic in duration, but begins one to four months after the estrus period in a dog or cat. The most common bacteria involved with these infections is E. coli, although it can be caused by various other bacteria. Affected animals are usually middle-aged or older, and present with various clinical signs, including anorexia, lethargy, increased urination, increased drinking, increased heart rate, and increased respiratory rate. Vaginal discharge can sometimes be present, depending on the type of infection.
Diagnosing pyometra can be tricky, as some animals may not show any signs of infection. Diagnosis is usually made by performing a thorough physical exam and getting a detailed history, bloodwork, and ultrasound or a radiograph of the abdomen. The enlarged uterus may be palpated while examining the abdomen in a physical exam, or visualized on an ultrasound or radiograph of the area. Surgical treatment is usually the most effective treatment method because the infected tissues and source of infection are removed when removing the uterus and ovaries in a typical spay procedure. It’s important to treat the condition as soon as it is diagnosed, as it can lead to fatal consequences which can rapidly develop!
The best way to avoid a pyometra is to spay female dogs and cats so that the uterus and ovaries are removed in order to prevent them from getting infected. With pyometra, they can develop to be quite big, and some of the cases I saw weighed up to 16 per cent of the total body weight of the animal!
Hope you learned something new about pyometras! Until next time!