Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pyometra - a preventable condition

This blog is in memory of Mia - a sweet 10 yr old labrador that was used for breeding and was not spayed after her last litter. She died from a Pyometra today – a deadly condition that is totally preventable!

This may not be the most pleasant discussion but it is so very important that people know about the dangers of NOT spaying a female dog.  Everyone knows to spay your dog to help with the pet population or even to help prevent cancers.  But many people do not know about pyometra – this is when the uterus becomes infected and fills with pus. The toxins and bacteria leak through the uterine wall and into the bloodstream – inevitably causing death.

This usually happens to older female dogs that finished their last heat cycle about 1-2 months prior.  She may act lethargic, start to vomit, have a decrease in appetite and may or may not have vaginal discharge.

Why does it happen? You see, with each heat cycle, the uterine lining engorges in preparation for pregnancy. Eventually, some tissue engorgement becomes excessive or persistent (a condition called cystic endometrial hyperplasia). This tissue is perfect for infection and when bacteria travel up from the vagina - the uterus becomes infected and ultimately pus filled.

The treatment is removal of the uterus (spay).  However, when a female dog (this does happen in cats too) – has a pyometra, surgery becomes a huge risk and many die during surgery – like Mia did. So it is always best to spay a female dog when she is younger and in good health. 

I can only hope that Mia’s story will help other female dogs avoid this condition in the future.

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