“She’s just not right. She’s off her food and drinking more and she’s just not herself” and that is often the first clue when an owner brings in an unneutered bitch that is feeling down. The immediate thought is that she has a pyometra or infection of the womb.
Bitches have an unusual reproductive cycle compared with other animals. She comes into season approximately every six months and obviously, if mated she will undergo a nine-week pregnancy. However, if she is not mated it still takes a while for her hormones to return to normal. Progesterone levels stay high and cause a thickening of the uterus to prepare for a possible pregnancy and there is an increase in fluid production. However, this environment is also ideal for hosting bacterial infections and this is precisely what happens in a pyometra. Your bitch becomes ill 2-3 months after her season develop into an emergency very rapidly. Pyometras can be classed as open or closed. In an open pyometra pus and debris leak out of her and she produces a nasty, smelly, coloured discharge at her back end. In a closed pyometra this infectious material is trapped within the uterus and makes her even more ill.
The condition tends to occur in older bitches, but it can occasionally occur after the first or second season. Your bitch may become very lethargic and anorexic. Bacterial toxins leak out of the uterus to affect the kidneys causing her to pass a lot of urine and drink a lot to compensate. Your vet normally diagnoses the condition with a scan of the uterus, but blood work is also needed to determine how badly her kidneys are affected. Cats can also be affected by pyometra and can become just a sick as a btich.
The surgery to remove an affected ureterus if much riskier than a normal spay. The uterus is much more fragile and there is the danger of pus leaking into the abdomen causing peritonitis. There is also an increased anaesthetic risk due to the possibility of sepsis and damage already done to the kidneys. However, spaying and removing the ureterus and ovaries is nearly always curative and your btich can return to full health.
Occasionally, we use hormone treatment to clear the pyometra and this can be a short-term option but there is still an intact reproductive system waiting for a time to become re-infected.
Spaying your animal is one sure way of preventing this veterinary emergency, saving yourself and your pet from heartache.