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When you get a dog, you want to tell everyone your good news! And often the topic of spaying comes up. You might wonder why people seem to want you to spay your dog, and it’s because it’s a very important factor when considering their health!
In this blog, we’ll talk about a dangerous disease called pyometra. We’ll explore what it is, how it’s treated, and why spaying is the solution to avoid this ailment. Oh, and we’ll take a peek at other reasons to consider spaying too.
IS PYOMETRA A PROBLEM?
You bet. Pyometra is an infection in a dog’s uterus that can be life threatening. While spaying may be a controversial subject, it is factual that getting your dog spayed eliminates risk of pyometra. (There is also evidence that spaying can decrease the risk of mammary cancer, but that’s for another blog!)
One cause of pyometra has to do with their estrous cycle. This cycle includes what we commonly call “going into heat.” Changes occur in the dog’s reproductive organs, hormones are released, and in the final stage of the cycle, the uterus repairs itself from all of the changes.
On average, dogs cycle approximately two times a year. And over the years, if left intact, they will continue to cycle over and over. The cycle is natural and makes it possible to mate and eventually breed. But sadly, this process that females undergo drastically increases the risk of acquiring a pyometra due to the uterus becoming the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
THE TWO TYPES OF PYOMETRA INFECTION
There are two kinds of pyometra—open and closed. Here’s what you should know about the different types of pyometra.
- Open pyometra – with this type, the infection is not sealed within the uterus and instead will slowly leak, thus leading to signs of yellow-to-brown discharge coming from the vulva. This makes it easier for the dog owner and a veterinarian to identify that pyometra may be occurring.
- Closed pyometra – this is more life-threatening, since you may not see any discharge, and unfortunately the infection may go undetected for even longer periods of time. The danger is that as the pyometra continues to fill and swell with the infection, and the uterus could eventually rupture. This most likely will result in sepsis, which is a much more difficult disease process to treat and can be fatal.
SIGNS OF PYOMETRA IN DOGS
By now, dog owners reading this might be a bit nervous. Fortunately, there are signs you can watch out for and then take action: Signs and symptoms of pyometra in dogs include:
- Pain – Does your dog seem uncomfortable or is whining or crying?
- Discharge – This is more noticeable with open pyometra
- Lethargy – Your pooch is pooped; if your dog is seeming very tired or disinterested in everyday activities, seek veterinary attention
- Increased urination – The wee-wee pad is more wet than usual or your dog wants to go outdoors more times than average
- Increased thirst – Is your dog visiting the water bowl more than usual?
WHAT WILL THE VET DO FOR PYOMETRA?
If you suspect pyometra, getting your dog to an emergency vet like Veterinary Emergency Group should not wait. At VEG, we follow a strict protocol to give us the best chance at a correct diagnosis. For starters, we’ll collect your dog’s history, perform a physical exam, and perform the following:
- Stabilization – Most likely, fluids and antibiotics are necessary
- Blood test – If your dog does have pyometra, the white blood cells will likely be elevated. On occasion, the kidney values may also be raised. We can see this through blood testing.
- Point of care ultrasound (POCUS) – No hocus pocus, this technology really helps us get a good look at what’s going on. Through the POCUS, we can see if there is evidence of a fluid-filled uterus.
- X-ray – If the ultrasound does not confirm pyometra, we’ll get a different internal perspective from taking radiographic images.
HOW DO YOU TREAT PYOMETRA?
If the diagnosis is pyometra, once your dog is stable, ultimately your dog will have to go to surgery for an emergency spaying. During this, the uterus and ovaries are removed. You’ll no doubt feel alarmed or worried, but we can help with that. We’ll talk over the treatment steps so you know what’s going on with your fur baby every step of the way.
We’ll perform an ovariohysterectomy (aka spay), where the uterus and ovaries are removed. Sutures or staples will be used to close the abdominal incision. Since you and your dog can stay together the entire time at VEG, you can even watch the surgery if you want. Some pet owners find comfort in keeping a close watch and we welcome that.
POST-OP PYOMETRA SURGERY
Here’s where the spa treatment comes in. Okay, not the massage and yoga kind, but close! Your dog will be hospitalized 24-48 hours after spaying. We’ll do our best to make you both comfortable and less stressed. We say you can stay with your pet the whole time and that includes throughout their hospitalization. It’s true! VEG hospitals are ready for overnight stays with complimentary snacks, drinks, a cot, and blanket.
Post-op, you can expect that your dog will wear an Elizabethian collar, you know, the cone dogs love so much! This is so she can’t lick, irritate, or open the incision. After being discharged from VEG, we’ll need to see her again to check how she’s healing. We’ll remove the sutures or staples approx. 7-10 days after hospitalization.
FINAL THOUGHTS THAT MAY SWAY YOU TO SPAY
Ridding your dog of the risk of pyometra and giving her overall a chance at a better, healthier life are fantastic reasons to consider spaying. But those aren’t the only benefits.
Animal control resources will tell you that in many communities, there’s an animal surplus in the shelters and on the streets. Spaying eliminates the chance of pregnancy. Less litters equals less overpopulation of animals in need of homes.
Pets on the prowl
If you own an outdoor pet, you know that they can get into fights with other animals. Especially when they’re trying for the attention of a mate. Claws out. It’s sparring time. Getting your outdoor female pet spayed reduces her drive to mate, which in turn reduces the risk of injury from competing potential paramours!
CALL VEG IF YOU NOTICE SIGNS OF PYOMETRA
While we don’t do regular spaying at VEG, we certainly perform enough of them due to pyometra and other illnesses, like cancer. Give the signs and symptoms another look. If you notice any of these in your dog, call VEG or come right in to your nearest location. You’ll see a doctor right away and keep you and your pet together, always.