Labrador puppy with purple flower on it's head.

Most people choose to spay their pets because they wish to avoid unwanted litters of puppies and kittens. While pet overpopulation is a big problem, there are certainly other reasons that spay and neuter is a good choice for most families. 

The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital want our clients to understand these reasons, and pyometra in pets is a big one.

All About Pyometra in Pets

Pyometra is the term that refers to infection of the uterus. This is not an uncommon occurrence that can happen as a result of the hormonal changes that occur during a normal estrus cycle.

In our pets the hormone progesterone increases as a heat cycle is completed, resulting in the thickening of the uterus lining in preparation for pregnancy. Because this lining isn’t really shed in our pets, multiple cycles without a pregnancy causes continued thickening and a perfect, nurturing environment for bacteria to live. 

When bacteria begin to thrive, an infection occurs, resulting in the accumulation of pus. This pus may drain out of the reproductive tract if the cervix is open, or it may remain within the uterus if the cervix is closed. Over time, if untreated, the uterus may rupture and/or sepsis can occur. 

Any intact dog or cat can be affected by pyometra, but it is most common in middle-aged or older animals that have not ever been pregnant. It most often happens about 6 weeks after an estrus cycle. 

Symptoms of pyometra in pets may include:

  • A distended abdomen
  • Pain
  • Lethargy/depression
  • Discharge from the vulva
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Increase in thirst

Other things can certainly cause some or all of these symptoms, so it is important to let us know right away if your pet is having problems so that we can get started helping immediately. 

Why You Need to Know

Pyometra in pets is a serious and potentially life threatening problem. Knowing that it’s a possibility and what the signs are can help you to take action sooner and potentially impact the outcome for the better. 

Knowing that pyometra is a possibility is also a very compelling reason to spay your pet before trouble ensues. 

If we suspect your pet may have pyometra, diagnostic testing including a physical examination is in order to try to confirm the diagnosis. 

When a patient is diagnosed with a pyometra, oftentimes intensive care is in order. Intravenous fluid therapy, antibiotics, and antiemetics are often needed to stabilize the patient. Once the pet is stable, surgery to remove the uterus is indicated. While this is similar to a normal spay surgery, the overall status of the patient and the uterus can make this much more complicated.

Without surgery, patients with pyometra often will die due to sepsis or shock. The good news is that pyometra is very easy to prevent. Simply spaying your pet early in life can eliminate pyometra from your list of potential worries. It is also much less expensive and safer for your pet to do this before pyometra occurs. 

Please call us should you have any questions regarding pyometra, or to schedule a spay appointment for your pet.