So Much Pus.....
Pus in Her What??
You've heard it over and over, "Spay and Neuter Your Pets!" But you're a responsible pet owner, you keep Fluffy and Fido inside; there won't be any unplanned pregnancies on your watch! So, why put poor, sweet Princess Fluff Butt through the surgery (not to mention your wallet)? Well, there are many reasons, but today we are going to focus on just one.... pyometra. So, what is that, you ask? Well, pull up a chair and put down your food, because it's storytime.
When your dog or cat has her ovaries, and therefore her hormones, the phases of her cycle can result in changes in the uterus and its lining. These changes are necessary to get the uterus ready to grow puppies or kittens. When a cat or dog is consistently bred, all goes well. But when they progress through their heat cycles without having babies, the lining inside their uterus continues to get thicker each cycle. Unfortunately, inside this warm, thick uterus, bacteria that enter through an open cervix find the perfect place to multiply. Because the lining has become so thickened over the multiple unbred heat cycles, the uterus does not function as it should and bacteria are not expelled. In time, the uterus becomes engorged and full of pus (yum!). A pyometra can present in one of two ways. If the female is in the phase of her cycle where the cervix is open, purulent discharge may be seen exiting her vulva. This is by far the preferred presentation as the uterus is in less danger of rupture. Alternatively, if the cervix is closed, the pus accumulates and the uterus gets larger and larger. This is a very dangerous situation and these animals are usually very ill. In both cases, owners typically report lethargy, poor appetite, possibly vomiting, and notably, an increase in thirst. This is due to toxins from the bacteria in the uterus affecting the kidney's ability to concentrate the urine. This dilute urine leads to dehydration and increased thirst. This is a hallmark of pyometra.
If you suspect your intact female may have a pyometra, get her to a veterinarian immediately. There is a saying in vet med, "Never let the sun set on a pyo!" This is a testament to the fact that a pyometra is a surgical emergency and these animals need to be surgically addressed as soon as possible. The only treatment is to surgically remove the infected uterus. The cat or dog will need blood work to evaluate organ function as well as IV fluids to rehydrate, improve blood pressure, and correct electrolyte imbalances. Treatments will also include antibiotics and pain medications. These can be complicated surgeries and the outcome is improved by a timely intervention. The main goal of surgery is to safely remove the uterus without it rupturing. A ruptured uterus can lead to secondary complications such as septic peritonitis, which is often fatal.
Normal Dog Uterus
14lb Dog with Pyometra
Normal Cat Uterus