Pyometra - Explanation and a true story
I decided to write about pyometra so that i can help and inform everyone that has a female cat or dog at home. It was about 2 years back that i first discovered what it was, since one of my cats was acting strange, didn´t wanted to eat, was always hidden, so i began to search the internet for information before taking her to a vet.
One of the things i stumbled upon was an infection of the uterus called pyometra that had the same symptoms that she was showing. The next day i went to a vet and he confirmed what i read, it was indeed a pyometra infection. The next events i decided to call "an incredible veterinary mistake" and i will tell you why. He tried to treat the infection with antibiotics. It didn´t worked as he espected, and im going to show you why. (i will continue my story after i write a brief explanation of pyometra and its complications with the animal health)
What causes pyometra?
First of all pyometra happens from hormonal and structural changes in the uterus. Theres no specific age for this to happen, and it doesn't matter if the animal has bred or not (some vets says its has less probabilities of gaining the infection if the animal has bred, altough that's not a good fact to hold on).
The main risk period is normaly after 8 weeks after her heat cycle, since at this time her cervix begins to close the inner lining gets to its normal state. Howver it may appen that during this time cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH) occurs as an incorrect response to progesterone.
When this happens, bacteria that has migrated to the uterus begins to grow, mostly because progesterone causes mucus secretion. Following this, the cervix closes wich prevents the uterine drainage. The major factor to diagnose the severity of this condition is to watch the cervix.
- If the cervix is open, the infection can leave the body, and its easier to treat. Its called open pyometra
- If the cervix is closed, there cant be any discharge of infected material. The uterus may rupture and pus starts to spread trough the abdomen, causing a worse infection and an iminent death. This is called closed pyometra
Symptoms you may watch
The most easier way to detect this problem is by the discharges of pus trough the animal vulva. However when a close pyometra happens, symptoms are harder to detect. But for both cases there are: vomiting, loss of apetite, depression, increased drinking and urinating. Fever may also occur.
When the animal is broght to a vet for the first time he will observe for the most obvious signs of the condition. If the cat or dog has closed pyometra he will request an X-ray of the uterus to confirm if there is presence of fluid in the uterus.
After the confirmation of the condition (and this must be made the more quickly as possible since time is a crucial factor here), the best way of treating the animal is the surgical treatment (ovariohysterectomy) wich completely removes the infection, prevents any rupture of the uterus and recurrence of pyometra. The alternative treatment (only if the animal owner wishes her to breed) is antibiotics to help expel the pus from the uterus when its an open pyometra. But if the animal has a closed one , this treatment is not recommended, since the animal can expel the infection and uterine rupture may occur. If the animal is treated with longterm antibiotics there are some high probabilities that infection may occur, so its best to let her breed and then ask your vet for a surgical treatment.
And now returning to my story...
So my vet tried to treat her with antibiotics, it was 3 sessions as far as i remember. The problem was that the infection had grow fast and the antibiotic wasn't working. I remember asking for another solution and he talked about surgical treatment. I agreed with that (altough it should have been sooner but the lack of information at the time made me believe in that vet´s work).
So the surgical day arrived, i prepared everything to take my little animal, but i noticed that she was weaker than before. Something was very wrong, my first thought was " can she make it trough the procedure?". I took her, and the vet told me that at night would be the best time to pick her up , since she had to awake from the anestesia and he had to check if she was responding well. I agreed and went to lunch. Later at night i arrived at the vet´s place, and there she was with a big bandage all over her belly, aparently the procedure went well, but there was already a little rupture so the infection was starting to spread. But he told me that now what she needed was some rest, some care so that the bandage always stays, and trying to keep her warm and make her eat something. That's what i did, but then something wrong happened some days later. She didn't wanted to eat, and began to get weaker, always hidding in a spot. I tried to call the vet but for my incredible bad luck , the vet had a heart problem and was in the hospital recovering (yes was bad luck indeed). Unfortunately she died in my arms the next day, her little heart just gave up. It was a very sad day, and i still get sad when i remember that.
About 1 year and 5 months after that event.
Another female cat i have (that was the mother of the one that died with pyometra), started to show the same symptoms. I urgently rushed to a diferent vet and he she said without great delays "this is pyometra, but to make sure im going to ask for an X ray, and tomorrow you give me the resuslts". And so i did. She confirmed my suspicions again, and she said that the cat needed surgery as fast as possiible to prevent something worse. In the next day by the moring i arrived at the surgery place, and she was already especting me and my cat. And so the same thing was told "Come by later at the end of the day to pick her up"
This time it was an happy ending
My father went to pick her up, and when i arrived at home there she was, looking like the other one i had in the same conditions, and i had to go trough another couple of days watching carefully step of the cat´s recovery. And she recovered well. The crucial thing that helped her stay alive was the rapid diagnostic and surgery. It took her almost 2 weeks to fully recover and now she is a lively cat running around like crazy (altough a little more fatty hehe).
Point of the story
I care very much about animals, and since this is a problem that may occur to anyone that as a female cat or dog at home, i decided to write so this may help people that are in the same situation. Remember pyometra is curable, if diagnosed and treated in time.
(One more thing i call uppon your attention. When an animal is in its heat cycle, I DON´T RECOMMEND by any means giving her a pill to calm her and end that cycle, since that can cause an abnormal function that may cause pyometra. Contact your vet first and always ask for a second opinion)