Cats and dogs that are not spayed are susceptible to a uterine infection called pyometra. It is commonly diagnosed in most veterinary practices. After a cat's or dog's oestrus (heat) cycle, the uterine lining becomes less able to fight off colonization by bacteria, and can rapidly lead to a severe infection. Pyometra literally means 'uterus of pus.' Gross. And dangerous: These pets often are brought to hospital for generalized lethargy, malaise, fever, lack of appetite, and excessive thirst.
In severe cases, these dogs and cats are often septic (bacteria in the blood) and in shock. These cases must be handled as a medical emergency. Treatment involves correcting the animal's dehydration (sometimes aggressively), antibiotics, and surgically removing the infected uterus and ovaries (i.e., spaying the pet). This disease can also be medically treated (more often in Europe) with antibiotics and a class of drugs called prostaglandins, but it is my opinion that pyometra should be treated surgically, and not medically.
I am posting photos of a case that I saw recently, of a cat that had the most severe pyometra I (and my colleagues) have ever seen. With the owner's permission, I am sharing this case: This was a darling older unspayed cat, about twelve years old, that presented to me with a decreased appetite and a massively distended belly. I took two radiographs (x-rays) of her belly, and this is what I found:
X-ray on her side
X-ray on her back
Without advanced knowledge of radiology, one can appreciate the distended abdomen. For those wtih some understanding, there is a large (massive actually) tubular soft-tissue opacity taking up much of the abdominal cavity that is consistent with pyometra. Keep this in mind when having a look at the following photos. These were taken while in surgery. What you see is the cat's uterus (and ovaries) that has almost completely been removed. It is huge.
This is the uterus after surgery. Take special note of the normal cat uterus to the right, which was removed that same morning during a routine spay. Astounding.
The very sad news is that the cat died two days later. We were all saddened by this.
Please everyone, this is one very good reason to have your female pet spayed.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I received some feedback from some of my great clients regarding my previous post. While they understood the point of my post, they also thought I may have been a tad harsh. Let me set something straight: I love dogs and cats - for being just that: dogs and cats. I like them for their canine-ness and their feline-ness, not for the eccentricities subjected on them by humans. One of those eccentricities involves dressing dogs up in Halloween costumes. BUT! They are darn cute, I admit it... I mean, how could I not?