Pyometra Surgery In A Dog And Cat

Health care questions and answers about puppies and dogs

What is pyometra in a dog and cat?  
Questions and answers about pyometra in dogs and cats.

Several disorders of the ovaries and uterus can occur in dogs and cats and one of the most serious is a pus-filled, swollen uterus called pyometra.  The usual signs are drinking more water than usual, tense abdomen, loss of appetite and often a fever.  There may or may not be an infected vaginal discharge.  Any patient diagnosed with pyometra needs immediate attention; antibiotics alone seldom are curative.

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     I just left the vet's office and my 8 year old Sheltie is having emergency surgery for pyometra.  My vet didn't have time to explain much about it but said she needed to be spayed right away.  
     She didn't seem that sick but did have some bad smelling discharge from her female area.  What is a pyometra?

Answer: dog... cat... pyometra... spay
     Seen more often in dogs than cats, pyometra means pus in the uterus.  Pus (white blood cells that accumulate in defense of infection) buildup can escape through the uterine tract and is seen as a discharge from the vulva and often collects on the fur under the tail and back legs.  In some cases no discharge is present... called a closed pyometra.  Various factors play into the development of pyometra such as irregular heat cycles, bladder or vaginal infections, hormone imbalance, and false pregnancy episodes.
     The uterine cavity becomes infiltrated with pus and mucous from the infection and distends, stretching and thinning the uterine wall.  Bacteria and toxins enter the bloodstream and cause havoc with the kidneys, liver and other organs and may lead to endotoxic shock and sudden death. Veterinarians  treat pyometra as an emergency surgical case and are reluctant to simply "try some antibiotics".   Pyometra can be fatal!

Doctor's Notes
     There are a number of health enhancing effects on dogs and cats from being spayed or neutered.  In female dogs and cats any chance of pyometra is eliminated by being spayed. Spaying means the ovaries and uterus are removed and is referred to as an "ovariohysterectomy".

False Pregnancy...
     This condition occurs when the dog or cat feels, looks, and acts like she is pregnant and even produces milk in the mammary glands, and yet no fetuses are present.  It is more common in dogs than cats. 

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dog_pyometra_discharge dog_pyometra_uterus dog_pyometra_ovary dog_pyometra_whatis
 In an "open pyometra" infected drainage is visible A greatly distended uterus 
in a dog with pyometra
Close-up view of  pus-filled uterus during the spay procedure  The uterus and ovaries are removed as in a spay procedure

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  I was always told a cat or dog should go through at least one heat cycle before they got spayed otherwise they would never be contented, happy pets.  Is this true?

Pyometra... a distended and infected uterus filled with pus

Answer:     cat... when to spay... how old
  No.  It is not true that cats or dogs "should" have a heat cycle prior to being spayed.  The only proven undesirable effect of spaying or neutering at any age (other than being unable to have offspring, which for most people is an advantage) is a decline in total daily calorie needs.  That simply means that you can feed your cat or dog less food after being spayed or neutered.
     The "disadvantage" is that if you continue feeding the same amounts of food after the spay or neuter procedure over time the pet will almost certainly become overweight.  The fact is, though, that cats and dogs cannot prepared their own meals so you, the pet's owner, have the ultimate responsibility for your cat or dog's body weight.
     Every day we veterinarians hear well-meaning people state emphatically that their cat or dog "got overweight after she was spayed"... as if the surgery created the weight problem and the amount of food being eaten is unimportant!  This is a classic cop out to deflect responsibility for the pet's body condition to something other than ourselves.


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