Blog page for Hatton Veterinary Hospital, a full service veterinary hospital in Elk Grove, California. Blog will hopefully allow clients and staff a forum for questions and new information updates.
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
Should I Spay My Dog And What Is A Pyometra Anyway?
Rose”is one of our cutest little patients, but at age 8 she had
not yet been spayed.About two weeks
after being in heat last year, she became severely ill.She had a fever, stopped eating, and was
drinking excessive amounts of water all of a sudden.She also had a mild milky discharge from her
vulva.Stinky Rose had an infection in
her uterus called a pyometra, and she underwent an emergency
ovariohysterectomy, or spay procedure.No
longer a routine procedure, and with high risk of infection spreading, her surgical
expenses were nearly 4 times higher than the discounted routine spay she would
have undergone had she had this taken care of before this happened. And her
chances of a smooth recovery were now much worse. Luckily, the uterus was able
to be removed without rupturing, and the infection contained, before she became
septic.In a few days after
hospitalization, she was able to go home and fully recover.
Dogs have a
reproductive cycle that is unlike human cycles.Female dogs will go into “heat”every
6 months and it is during the heat cycle that they are able to get
pregnant.The heat cycle is often
distinguishable to breeders by a bloody vaginal discharge that lasts for about
2 weeks.Unlike a human menses where
bleeding is due to shedding of the uterine lining when a woman is not
impregnated, the bloody discharge during the canine estrus cycle is caused by
the effects of estrogen on the uterus.There is no “shedding”per
se and as such, no cramps, and no active turnover of the lining of the
uterus.The bleeding in this case
indicates a fertile and receptive uterus.
Dog uterus with pyometra
Normal-sized dog uterus
When a dog
fails to be impregnated after her estrus or heat cycle, she is prone to cystic
endometrial hyperplasia. This is because the uterine wall has been stimulated
and is responsive.Because the lining of
the uterus becomes thickened and vascular, bacteria, which can more easily
enter when the female dog is susceptible and her cervix is open, can get trapped
in this very fertile environment. The
cervix normally closes after the heat cycle and in some cases, this can trap
unwanted bacteria and lead to a serious infection.If the cervix is open enough to allow for drainage
of the infection, one will see a purulent malodorous discharge.If the cervix is only partially open or
closed, the uterus will swell and become filled with pus and could eventually
rupture.The infected uterus is known as
a pyometra.A closed pyometra does not
have a way to drain and is more dangerous because there are less outward signs
and more risk of rupture.Rupture can
lead to an acute peritonitis, or abdominal cavity infection, similar to what
happens with a ruptured appendix in people.This can be life threatening.
If we spay a
female dog before her first heat cycle, she will avoid the risk of pyometra,
which could potentially happen after every heat cycle.She is also more than 100 times less likely
to have a malignant breast tumor if spayed before her first heat cycle, and 500
times less likely than she would be after her second heat cycle.
It is safer
and healthier for your female pet dog not to have these odds working against
her.Please spay your pet before her
first heat cycle whenever possible, and avoid these unnecessary risks.