Pyometra in Cats and Dogs

Many people wonder ‘what is the big idea behind veterinarians being advocates for spaying your female animals?’ Besides helping control the animal population, spaying your female pet helps to prevent cancer development but also unwanted uterine infections called Pyometra.

Understanding Pyometra

The word Pyometra is derived from Latin ‘pyo’ meaning pus and ‘metra’ meaning uterus. A Pyometra is an abscessed, pus-filled infected uterus where toxins and bacteria leak across the uterine wall and into the bloodstream causing life-threatening toxic effects. Without treatment, animals do not survive.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Older female cats or dogs are at risk of getting a Pyometra. Usually, she has finished a heat cycle in the previous 1-2 months and presents with a poor appetite, vomiting, and drinking excessively. Typically, an ‘open pyometra’, where the cervix is open, you will notice cream coloured, foul smelling vaginal discharge. However, there is also a ‘closed pyometra’ where the cervix is closed, there is no vaginal discharge noted and therefore it is more difficult to diagnose. These patients tend to be very ill because the toxins have nowhere to escape except for into the blood system. Bloodwork, x-rays and potentially an abdominal ultrasound are usually required for a proper diagnosis.

Treatment and Management

The treatment for a pyometra is surgical removal of the infected uterus and ovaries, which can be challenging depending on the severity of the infection. Intensive IV fluids, antibiotics and pain medication are necessary prior to and after surgery in order to prevent systemic and life threatening infection from spreading. Most animals require multiple days of hospitalization to regain their strength and receive treatments post operatively.

Importance of Spaying

Spaying cannot be over-emphasized since it is the complete prevention of this condition. Often owners are unsure whether or not they wish to have their pet spayed. Spaying your animal (dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits) prevents this life-threatening disease. The best time to spay your animal is around 6 months however even older animals will benefit from spaying. Please contact Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital if you have any questions regarding spaying your pet.

Written by Dr. Sarah Hanson, Veterinarian