As most fellow pet lovers would agree, a dog or cat is like a baby. You talk to them, you cuddle up with them and you know that no matter what, their happy wagging tail will be waiting for you when you arrive home. It is a pretty amazing bond to share and the bond between man and dog has long been proven to be one of the strongest connections on Earth. But what happens when this bond that you share with that loved pet is threatened, when that pet gets so sick that you are filled with fear that you might lose that special little 4 legged companion.
There are many illnesses, infections and diseases that can threaten the life of your pet. Over the next 8 weeks, I will provide a breakdown of the various illnesses that can threaten the health of those pets which we love so dearly.
Pyometra is only seen in females and is more common in older females (above 5 years of age). However, it can be seen at any age. The symptoms usually develop around 4-6 weeks after the female has finished bleeding from her last cycle, but in some cases it appears that the female has what seems like a prolonged heat cycle.
Early symptoms that you may notice are that your dog is:
- licking her rear end more than normal
- off colour
- off her food
- Lack of energy/enthusiasm
- Sleeping more regularly than usual
- drinking a lot more than normal (and will probably urinate more)
These signs will develop and you will see the initial symptoms get worse. As well as the above, you may see the following:
- Pus (yellow/red/brown discharge) from her vulva
- She may have a swollen abdomen
Eventually If left untreated signs will worsen to the point of dehydration, collapse and death from shock.
I found that on arrival to the clinic, as soon as I described the symptoms as well as Kokos history, the vet knew more or less straight away what we were dealing with. From an ultrasound she was able to tell that Koko had a womb infection/Pyometra. Koko was kept in overnight and put on a drip of fluids and antibiotics. At this point, knowing that I had to leave Koko in overnight, I was fighting back the tears as I was so worried about her. The following morning I got a call to tell me that Koko would need to have surgery performed to remove the uterus.
Removing the uterus is generally the treatment of choice as it removes the infection completely. Alternative treatments include a long course of antibiotics. However, cases where the dog has been treated with antibiotics as opposed to a spay, the infection will generally return in future heat cycles and has been known to be a lot more dangerous to the health of the dog. Therefore the best option for the health of the dog is to remove the uterus.
Dogs will usually make a full recovery following the spaying. Although there is a higher risk associated with the surgery with a sick dog as against spaying a healthy dog, it is the best option for the health of the dog in the long run. Koko did recover from her ordeal and her appetite did gradually return. While she did gether enthusiasm back and had a spring in her step again Koko was later diagnosed with Cancer. It’s believed that this may have been the result of a secondary infection at the time which was not picked up on by the original vet. It was only a year later when we switched vets to the wonderful crew at Treaty Veterinary clinic, that this was discovered. Koko hadn’t been herself, and after an unfortunate ordeal where the cyst was burst, Koko’s cancer did get worse over time. We eventually made the heartbreaking decision a month later to put her to sleep.
In the time that has passed, Our golden labrador Milly has also had an identical operation for Pyometra to what Koko had. For Milly however, while we spotted the symptoms a lot faster, Milly spent almost 2 weeks in the care of Treaty Veterinary Clinic where the vet told me, it was one of the worst cases of the disease that he had witnessed in all of his years as a vet.
Luckily Milly did fully cover to my absolute relief. Today, she is her bouncy happy self and I can thank the amazing team at Treaty Veterinary clinic for this.
All I can say to any dog owners out there, if you spot the symptoms of Pyometra, if you think something is not right, then see your Vet. It might just save your best friends life.