Last month we a hat-trick of pyometra surgeries in a span of just one week! Pyometra is an infection of the uterus, causing it to fill with pus. This condition is caused by the peculiar reproductive hormonal cycles in un-desexed females. Pyometra can be quite painful and if not treated quickly, it can be life threatening
Dogs suffering from pyometra often present not wanting to eat, being dull and lethargic, drinking a lot of water and sometimes have a bloated abdomen. One of the other most common tell-tale signs is discharge from their vulva but this doesn’t always happen making diagnosis tricky to the untrained eye.
Within the span of one week, 3 un-desexed, female dogs presented to our clinic with some or all of the above symptoms. We performed blood work and x-rays to confirm the diagnosis and took them straight into theatre.
Timing was critical and emergency surgery was required to remove their pus-filled uterus. In two of the cases, any further delays could have caused the uterus to rupture causing the infection to spread into the abdomen and their condition could have become exponentially complicated from there. We are extremely happy to report that all three patients underwent surgery and have gone on to make brilliant recoveries!
So what can be done to avoid your female pet getting pyometra?
Well, fortunately for us pyometra is completely avoidable by de-sexing at an early age! No uterus, no ovaries, no reproductive hormones and no pyometra … simple!
De-sexing before the first heat season also helps to reduce the risk of mammary cancer in female dogs. Statistics showed that their chances of forming these cancers jump from 0.5% up to 8% if not desexed before their first heat cycle. After this the numbers become alarming as the risks increase up to 23%!
In a study of 260,000 un-desexed female dogs, 19% of these were diagnosed with pyometra some time before the age of 10 years old. Another 13% were diagnosed with mammary tumors. We think these numbers are huge and just not worth the risk!
Based on our combined experience in the veterinary industry and ongoing studies, our most sincere recommendation based on experience and current literature is that all female dogs should be desexed early, ideally before the age of 6 months.
For more information about desexing benefits and ages, click here for our blog.