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