There are many benefits to spaying your pets, but did you know that it could also be a life-saving procedure? Female dogs and cats that are not spayed have a high risk of developing something called pyometra, or an infection of the uterus. This preventable infection makes your pet very sick and can be potentially life-threatening.
A spay, also called an ovariohysterectomy, is a surgical procedure that involves removal of the ovaries and uterus. This procedure is used to prevent your pet from going into heat, becoming pregnant, and can decrease the risk for certain types of cancer. In addition these benefits, spayed patients are no longer at risk of developing a uterine infection.
In dogs, pyometra, or a uterine infection, usually occurs about 1-2 months after they have had a heat cycle. Symptoms commonly encountered include increased drinking and urination, lethargy, fever, and decreased appetite. In order to diagnose a pyometra, radiographs or an ultrasound may be needed to assess for evidence of an enlarged uterus.
If your pet develops a pyometra, the only true treatment is surgery. The surgery is similar to a spay, however the operation has evolved from an elective procedure in a healthy pet to a life-threatening emergency surgery in a critically-ill patient. The surgery usually requires hospitalization as well due to the need for fluids and antibiotics. If left untreated, these animals are at risk for a uterine rupture, resulting in a severe systemic infection and possibly death.
Fortunately, the prevalence of spaying pets has increased in recent years making pyometras less common. At Guilford Veterinary Hospital we would love to discuss any questions you may have regarding spaying your pet – such as when the procedure should be performed, what it entails, and how it can benefit the life and longevity of your pet.