A woman holds a cat.

Most people who adopt an animal spay their new pet as one of the first acts of care after the adoption is official. Veterinarians recommend pet owners spay their pets to prevent litters of new puppies and kittens that need homes. Pet overpopulation is definitely one of the most important and humane reasons to spay your new pet, but it is not the only one. Dogs and cats that are not spayed are at risk for certain health issues.

The team at Elmhurst Animal Care Center wants to help our clients understand these potential health concerns, especially pyometra and how it can harm a new pet.

Pyometra in Pets

Pyometra is a uterine infection that is commonly seen in pets who are not spayed. During the estrus cycle, hormones naturally change. Sometimes, this transition can lead to the infection. 

After the heat cycle is finished, the body raises progesterone levels to thicken the uterine lining and prepare the body for pregnancy. When humans menstruate, they shed this lining monthly, but the lining does not shed in animals. If the dog or cat experiences multiple cycles without a pregnancy, this thicker lining creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.

Once the bacteria has set up residence, the animal becomes much more likely to suffer an infection. As the infection worsens, pus accumulates and might even drain out of the reproductive tract. If it cannot drain, however, it remains within the uterus. Without the proper attention, this can lead to a rupture or sepsis. Unfortunately, either scenario could be fatal for your pet.

Pyometra is a condition that affects both cats and dogs. Middle-aged and older animals that have never been spayed or gotten pregnant are especially susceptible to the infection.

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

Helping To Stop Pyometra

Pyometra in pets is serious and potentially fatal. Unless they have experienced it before with an animal, many pet owners do not even know this is a potential health risk. If your pet has not been spayed and has never been pregnant, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment so we can perform an examination. We can use diagnostic testing to check for infection.

If pyometra is present in your pet’s uterus, we can often use IV fluid therapy, antibiotics, and antiemetics to ensure the animal is stable before performing a hysterectomy. 

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