World Spay Day!

WARNING: This blog contains graphic images of blood and live animal tissue. Please do not continue reading if you do not wish to see these photos.

Today is World Spay Day!

Spaying and neutering your pet’s has numerous health and behavioral benefits.

Spaying and neutering your pet’s has numerous health and behavioral benefits. Then why do we have so many un-altered pets? For some, there is a stigma that it is more “natural” for them to have all of their reproductive organs or others that say they want their pets to be able to “sow their oats” and have a litter first. I have even met some dog owners that feel personal pain even when just thinking about neutering their dogs.

Spaying and neutering pets shouldn’t have a negative connotation. Behaviorally, pets that are altered will display less marking and humping behaviors, be easier to train, have less aggression, and be less likely to run away from home. Medically, pets that are altered are significantly less likely to develop cancer, pyometra, and other costly medical issues.

Pets that are altered are significantly less likely to develop cancer, pyometra, and other costly medical issues.

What is pyometra? Pyometra is a scientific medical term for a pus filled uterus. How does this happen? After an animal has gone through a heat cycle, prolonged hormone release timed with the opening/closing of the cervix causes large amounts of pus to fill the uterus. With the uterus essentially acting like a balloon with a closed cervix, you can imagine that eventually the risk is for the balloon to burst.

Pyometra is a scientific medical term for a pus filled uterus. A pyometra is an emergency and comes with a heavy price tag to correct.

Both the process of the pyometra developing and, in the very scary event that the pyometra bursts, make pets incredibly ill. A pyometra is an emergency and comes with a heavy price tag to correct.

Oftentimes, I am asked the question, “Isn’t it too late to spay my dog? She’s so old!” My answer is always, No. I recently performed an emergency pyometra surgery on a 13 year old dog. This patient had been not feeling well for over a week before she was brought to see a veterinarian. She was not eating, acting very lethargic, and urinating blood. Since she was an intact female, the very first thing we check for is pyometra since this is life threatening. The saying in veterinary medicine goes, “It’s not ‘if’ they will develop a pyometra, it’s ‘when'” because pyometras are incredibly common.

The saying in veterinary medicine goes, “It’s not ‘if’ they will develop a pyometra, it’s ‘when'” because pyometras are incredibly common.

An X-ray image of the patient’s abdomen before surgery. The large structures in the black circle are the pyometra. This X-ray image gives proof that this patient has a pyometra and needs emergency surgery.

After performing abdominal imagining to determine this patient indeed had a pyometra, the surgery to spay this patient and correct the pyometra was scheduled. We would be performing the surgery over our lunch hour as it was the only time to fit it in amongst a busy day of regularly scheduled pet medical appointments.

A uterus with pyometra. Notice that both uterine horns are different in appearance, one is engorged with pus and the other is more flaccid.

A normal healthy uterus being removed during a routine spay procedure.

This pyometra was 10% of this dog’s body weight. When your patient only weighs 10 pounds, this is a large percentage of their body weight!

After the surgery was complete, this patient was sent home with numerous post operative medications and post operative care instructions. I am happy to report that this patient returned to full health after this procedure – even at 13 years old!

Not all pyometra stories have this positive outcome. Pyometra is a life threatening illness. Without the surgery, the pet can pass away a very painful death. Sometimes, a pet that has been sick with pyometra for a prolonged amount of time, even with the surgery, they can pass away.

This emergency procedure came with a hefty price tag of over $2000.

This emergency procedure came with a hefty price tag of over $2000. If the owner had spayed this patient when she was a puppy or when she was younger and healthier, the procedure may have only cost $500-$600.

In closure, pyometra is one of the many health risks pets face when they are not spayed. Today is World Spay Day where we celebrate and educate the importance of spaying your pets! Behavioral, medical, and pet population decreases are just a few of the benefits that come with spaying and neutering. Next time your veterinarian recommends this procedure, hear them out! Ask questions! Be educated on the importance of this life saving procedure!

Remember, pyometra is 100% preventable. Please, spay and neuter your pets!

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