BRAVERY AWARD APRIL 2022

by | May 4, 2022

Minty, the 9 year old Shih Tzu X had been not at all like herself for awhile, straining to defecate, urinating frequently, lethargic and just out of sorts.  She presented to Dr. Tom at our Wellness Centre once her owners suspected that something sinister may be going on.  After an ultrasound of her abdomen, Dr. Tom suspected that there was a high chance that she was suffering from pyometra, and referred her straight over to the Berwick Hospital for further treatment and surgery with Dr. Tracy.

A pyometra is a secondary bacterial infection in the endometrium of the uterus of a female dog, and occurs as a result of hormonal changes in the female’s reproductive tract.  This usually occurs a few weeks after the dog has been ‘on heat’, but the time frame is variable relative to the heat cycle.

Dogs that are examined early in the course of the disease may have a slight vaginal discharge and show no other signs of illness. However, most dogs with pyometra are seen later in the illness. A very ill female dog with a history of recent heat that is drinking an increased amount of water should be suspected of having pyometra. This is especially true if there is a vaginal discharge or a painful, enlarged abdomen.  Symptoms of pyometra include early warning signs of the animal feeling unwell, such as vomiting, refusal to eat, lethargy, increased thirst and frequent urination. They may also appear to be uncomfortable and not themselves, as pyometra is a particularly painful condition for dogs, while being somewhat less so for cats.

Dogs with pyometra usually have a severe elevation of the white blood cell count and often have an elevation of globulins (a type of protein often associated with the immune system) in their blood. The specific gravity (concentration) of the urine is generally low due to the toxic effects of the bacteria on the kidneys.

If the cervix is closed, radiographs (X-rays) of the abdomen will often identify the enlarged uterus, which we saw in Minty’s radiographs. If the cervix is open, there will often be such minimal uterine enlargement that the radiograph will be inconclusive. An ultrasound examination may be more helpful in identifying an enlarged uterus and differentiating that from a normal pregnancy. Ultrasound changes that indicate pyometra include increased uterine size, thickened uterine walls, and fluid accumulation within the uterus.

The best and only real prevention for pyometra is to have your dog spayed. Spaying removes the hormonal stimulation that causes both heat cycles and the uterine changes that allow pyometra to happen.

Minty’s owners were so very grateful of the quick and thorough action by our team and are delighted to report that she has made a full recovery at home and can live out her golden years without any risk of her female anatomy giving her any further grief!

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