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Pyometra

What is a pyometra?

This is a potentially life threatening condition which requires immediate veterinary treatment.

Pyometra is an infection of the lining of the uterus which often occurs shortly after oestrus (heat or season). Following a normal oestrus, progesterone levels remain increased for 8-10 weeks to prepare the uterus lining for a potential pregnancy.
If pregnancy does not happen, the progesterone levels do not return to normal and the lining continues to thicken, forming cysts. These cysts produce fluid which creates the ideal environment for bacteria to develop.

The cervix, which is the entrance to the uterus, usually remains closed unless oestrus is occuring. While the cervix is open, bacteria which normally live in the vagina will enter the uterus. Normally these bacteria won’t survive, but in a thickened uterus with the ideal environment created for bacteria they will thrive. Due to the thickening of the uterus it is also unable to contract fully and expel the bacteria.

Pyometra can occur in any unneutered dog or cat. It is more commonly seen in middle aged to older dogs, although young dogs are also susceptible. It occurs rarely in cats.

Older dogs which have had many oestrus cycles without a pregnancy, have the perfect uterine wall to promote this disease. It usually occurs 4-8 weeks after oestrus.

Clinical signs

These can vary considerably so you should always seek veterinary treatment.

  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Lethargic
  • Temperature

If the cervix is open allowing drainage you will see a pussy, vulval discharge which is usually foul smelling. Your dog will often be continually cleaning her back end. This is called an open pyometra.

If the cervix is closed the pus continues to build up without draining causing the dog to become seriously ill, extremely quickly.

Diagnosis

A full clinical examination is performed by your veterinary surgeon. Pyometra is often suspected if the dog is not neutered, drinking more and has a vulval discharge, 4-8 weeks after oestrus. A blood sample may be collected and X-rays or an ultrasound scan may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

The most recommended option for treatment is surgery to remove the infected uterus and ovaries- an ovariohysterectomy or spay. Depending on the severity of the infection, your dog may need to be stabilised first using intravenous fluids and antibiotics, prior to surgery. Although the surgery being performed is a neutering operation, the surgery is much more complicated due to the enlarged and weakened uterus. It must be removed without rupturing to prevent the pus from leaking into the abdomen. Additionally there is always an increased anaesthetic risk when the patient is unwell. This is one of the reasons why veterinary surgeons always recommend spaying your dog at an early age when they are young, fit and healthy!

Medical treatment for pyometra is possible using injections containing prostaglandins which reduce the progesterone levels. This causes the cervix to open and expel the pussy contents of the uterus. Medical treatment for pyometra can be expensive especially in large dogs. It is not always effective and surgery may still be necessary.

Medical treatment can be considered for young bitches from whom the owner would like to consider breeding from at subsequent seasons. It can also be considered for older bitches where general anaesthesia and surgery is considered inadvisable.

Your veterinary surgeon will discuss the best course of treatment for your pet. If you do not seek any treatment for your pet suffering from a pyometra the outcome will potentially be fatal.

Neutering Your Female Cat -Spay

What is spaying?

This operation involves removal of the entire uterus (womb) and ovaries via an incision usually made on your cat’s left flank or midline into their abdomen. Your cat will be admitted as a ‘day patient’ and following a pre-operative check by your veterinary surgeon, she will be given a pre-medication and analgesic (pain killing) injection prior to her general anaesthetic. After surgery and following her recovery from the anaesthetic she will be ready to go home later the same day. You will be given full discharge instructions on how best to care for your cat after surgery and she will be checked by your veterinary nurse 3 days later to ensure the wound is healing. If there are any sutures present these will be removed 10 days later. While the operation is more complicated than castration, it is still a routine procedure and their recovery is usually fairly quick.

What are the advantages of spaying?

Spaying has a number of advantages especially if performed between 4-6 months of age.

Unwanted kittens-Most obviously spaying prevents unwanted litters. There are thousands of unwanted kittens and cats that need homes due to irresponsible owners who do not neuter their cats.

Behavioural-Cats are ‘spontaneous ovulators’ which means your cat will only ovulate (release her eggs) if she is mated. If she comes into season and is not mated she will come back into season every couple of weeks until she is. Due to physiological and behavioural patterns she will try to seek out male cats and may attempt to escape from the house in an attempt to do this. She will also attract male cats into the area. During her season she will be ‘calling’ and displaying unsociable behaviour which is often loud, persistent crying and rolling around on the floor.

Prevent spread of diseases- Mating and fighting can also spread diseases like FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukaemia Virus) which can be fatal.                                                                                                     

Medical-Spaying prevents the chance of infection of their uterus (pyometra) and greatly reduces the incidence of mammary (breast) cancer.

Are there any disadvantages?

The operation carries a small risk associated with general anaesthesia. Your cat will be assessed prior to surgery to ensure she is fit and well for the procedure, and full instructions will be given when she goes home to minimise the chances of a problem occurring with the wound.

It is a common fallacy that a neutered cat will become fat and lazy. They may have a decreased activity level following neutering, which in turn causes weight gain IF your cat continues to be fed the same amount of food as before they were neutered. Neutered pets can require up to a 30% reduction in their feeding requirements. This is due to no longer utilising energy in to reproduction.This extra energy may then be stored as excess body fat instead.
After your cat is neutered, we recommend moving her onto a neutered cat food. Royal Canin have developed a competitively priced, veterinary exclusive pet food which is high in protein and low in fat to help combat against any weight gain. Your veterinary nurse will be able to advise you on the best feeding regime for your cat.

Royal Canin also have an S/O Index with their food which is an abbreviation for struvite and calcium oxalate crystals. The S/O Index indicates that the food helps provide a urinary environment unfavourable to the development of struvite and calcium oxalate crystals.

These crystals can cause blockages in male cats due to their narrow, long urethra. In females blockages are less of a problem but can still occur.

Click on the video below to find out more about why you should neuter your cat.

Useful links:
www.royalcanin.co.uk

Neutering Your Female Dog – Spay

What is a bitch spay?

This operation involves removal of the entire uterus (womb) and ovaries via a midline incision into the dog’s abdomen. Your dog will be admitted as a ‘day patient’ and following a pre-operative check by your veterinary surgeon, she will be given a pre-medication and analgesic (pain killing) injection prior to her general anaesthetic. After surgery and following her recovery from the anaesthetic she will be ready to go home later the same day. You will be given full discharge instructions on how best to care for your dog after surgery and she will be checked by your veterinary nurse 3 days later to ensure the wound is healing. If there are any sutures present these will be removed 10 days later. We usually use intradermal (under the skin) sutures for our bitch spays, so there are no skin sutures requiring removal or to aggravate your dog while their wound is healing. Your dog will go home with some pain relief medication for a few days as well as a Buster collar to prevent any interfering with their wound. While the operation is more complicated than castration, it is still a routine procedure and their recovery is usually fairly quick.

What are the advantages?

  • Your dog will not have seasons and therefore cannot become pregnant.
  • Removal of their uterus and ovaries reduces the chances of infection in later life.
  • If your dog is spayed the incidence of mammary (breast) cancer is greatly reduced.
  • False (phantom) pregnancies are stopped.
  • Vaginal polyps (small nodules) are prevented.
  • Mismatings and unwanted puppies are avoided.

Are there any disadvantages?

Any surgical procedure involving general anaesthesia carries a small risk.  As with castration, your dog will be assessed prior to surgery to ensure she is fit and well and full instructions will be given when she goes home to minimise potential problems.

A small proportion of larger breeds can develop urinary incontinence, which may require treatment later in life.

Minor coat changes may be noticeable in certain breeds such as Irish Setters.

It is a common fallacy that a neutered dog will become fat and lazy. They may have a decreased activity level following neutering, which in turn causes weight gain IF your dog continues to be fed the same amount of food as before they were neutered. Neutered pets can require up to a 30% reduction in their feeding requirements. This is due to no longer utilising energy in to reproduction.This extra energy may then be stored as excess body fat instead.  

After your dog is neutered, we recommend moving her onto a neutered dog food. Royal Canin have developed a competitively priced, veterinary exclusive pet food, Royal Canin range. This is high in protein and low in fat to help combat against any weight gain. Your veterinary nurse will be able to advise you on the best feeding regime for your dog.

When to spay?

Bitches can be spayed from six months of age so prior to their first season.  If they have had seasons then ideally three months after the end of their last season i.e. in-between seasons.  The younger she is the greater the benefit from surgery.

Are there any alternatives?

Cinque Ports Vets are pleased to be able to offer our clients the option of keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery for routine bitch spays and other procedures where appropriate.

Keyhole spay involves the introduction of a camera and specialised instruments into the abdomen through two or three small incisions. Many of the traditional surgical procedures such as spaying can be now performed laparoscopically. Traditional surgery involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus (ovariohysterectomy) but laparoscopically generally only the ovaries are removed (ovariectomy).

The tissues are visualised under high magnification and blood vessels are cut and sealed using specialist equipment.

It is well established in human surgery that laparoscopic procedures provides quicker healing time and less post-operative complications than other methods. This is proven also in modern veterinary medicine.

The benefits of laparoscopy for our pets are similar and aim for a faster and more comfortable return to normal activity. One typical example is the young, very active bitch that is not likely to accept easily periods of complete rest from exercise post neutering.

After Keyhole surgery dogs will still need to be kept on the lead but the risk of damaging the surgical wounds (because of the small size) is greatly decreased. Please be aware that we do need to shave a little more fur than with a traditional procedure and Keyhole surgery is a little more expensive due to the cost of the equipment required and the expertise.

Useful links:
www.royalcanin.co.uk

Neutering Your Female Rabbit – Spay

What is a rabbit spay?
This operation involves surgical removal of the entire uterus (womb) and ovaries via a midline incision into your rabbit’s abdomen. Your rabbit will be admitted as a ‘day patient’ and following a pre-operative check by your veterinary surgeon, she will be given an injection of a combination of sedative and analgesic (pain killing) drugs to induce anaesthesia.

After surgery and following her recovery from the anaesthetic she will be ready to go home later the same day. You will be given full discharge instructions on how best to care for your rabbit after surgery and she will be checked by your veterinary nurse 3 days later to ensure the wound is healing. There are generally not any sutures that require removal  10 days later as we usually use intradermal  (under the skin) sutures in rabbits as they have a tendency to gnaw on them! We will however request a post operative check 10 days following surgery to ensure that their wound has completely healed. While the wound is healing we recommended only using newspaper as bedding as hay or sawdust can get caught in the wound and be a tract for infection. Hay should still be provided in the diet but not used as bedding. Your rabbit may go home with some pain relief medication for a few days. While the operation is more complicated than castration, it is still a routine procedure and their recovery is usually fairly quick.

What are the advantages?

  • No unwanted kittens (baby rabbits)
  • Reduced incidence of mammary tumours
  • No ovarian tumours
  • No uterine tumours (especially common in rabbits)
  • To help prevent behavioural problems such as aggression

Are there are disadvantages?

Any surgical procedure involving general anaesthesia carries a small risk but unfortunately rabbits do have an increased risk of death under anaesthesia. This is quite a complex issue but it is mainly due to them being prey animals which makes them respond to stress differently than cats or dogs. The physical and psychological effects of stress can unfortunately result in a fatality during surgery or in their recovery period. Luckily anaesthetic complications are relatively rare in rabbits and every care is taken to ensure this does not happen. Many advances have been made in regards to the anaesthetic agents used for rabbits. If you have any concerns relating to the anaesthetic please speak to your veterinary surgeon for more advice.

Following a stressful procedure like surgery, rabbits can often suffer from reduced gut motility or gut stasis. This is when their digestive system slows down.  It is vitally important that your rabbit continues to eat normally following surgery and any changes in their appetite should be reported to your veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse. Supportive care may be needed to increase your rabbit’s appetite. It is also helpful to monitor the faecal output of your rabbit following surgery and any reduction in droppings should also be reported.

Following neutering it is not uncommon for your rabbit to gain weight. This is due to their energy requirements decreasing due to the reduction in hormone production. Careful monitoring of their diet and an increase in exercise will help to ensure this doesn’t happen. Your veterinary nurse will be able to advise you further.

If you have 2 rabbits of a different sex living together you must ensure that they are kept separate for at least 6 weeks following surgery as they may still be capable of reproducing.

When to spay?

Rabbits can be spayed from 4 months of age or later in life if required. The anaesthetic risk increases in older rabbits so the surgery is best performed when your rabbit is still young to provide the optimum benefits.

Useful links:
Neutering Your Male Rabbit