Pyometra is a condition commonly seen in veterinary medicine. Though this disease is life threatening, it is treatable when caught soon enough. More importantly, it’s preventable.
Pyometra is an infection that occurs in the uterus. As the infection progresses, the uterus fills with pus and becomes enlarged. The uterus can die and/or burst and release toxins into the abdomen. It affects intact, usually but not always, older females.
During each heat cycle, the body produces hormones and the uterus thickens in preparation for pregnancy. With each heat in which pregnancy doesn’t occur, the uterine tissue continues thickening and can become cystic. All of these factors, along with bacteria the uterus cannot expel, create disease. The contribution of each heat to hormones and tissue build-up is the reason most cases of pyometra occur in older females. Left untreated this is fatal. The infection grows and the uterus swells. Toxins can seep into the bloodstream and the uterus will eventually rupture, spilling into the abdomen.
Symptoms are not always present until the pyometra is advanced. This is especially true in cats. Symptoms of pyometra include:
- Swollen abdomen
- Vaginal discharge
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of appetite/anorexia
When pyometra becomes symptomatic, it usually progresses quickly from there and requires immediate medical intervention.
The best and most effective way to treat pyometra is with surgery that involves removing the reproductive tract. The surgery can be expensive and complicated but has a high rate of success. Extra care is necessary to remove the infected uterus without it rupturing.
If an owner wishes their pet to remain intact, it is sometimes possible to treat the infection without surgery. This treatment is far less successful than removing the uterus is, and the infection usually comes back.
While pyometra is treatable, it’s also preventable. Spaying females, preferably before their first heat, is the best way to ensure pets don’t succumb to this disease. Because the age of first heat and the best age to spay vary, it’s important to discuss this with your veterinarian during puppy and kitten wellness checks. Puppies and kittens aren’t the only ones that benefit from spaying. Pyometra is still preventable via spaying for intact adult pets.
Pyometra is a foul and fatal disease of the uterus. When it occurs, it can be treated with great success with immediate medical attention. However, the best way to deal with pyometra is by preventing it. It’s one of the many health benefits of spaying pets.