Monthly Archives: March 2016
Veterinarian Dr.Tiffany Major of Craig Road Animal Hospital discusses an often fatal infection, pyometra. It is most common in older female dogs that have not been spayed though it can occur in spayed dogs as well. This the story of Blueberry, a female pit bull living in North West Las Vegas.
By Tiffany Major, DVM
Blueberry’s parents started to notice she wasn’t acting herself. She was very lethargic, and laying down a lot. They knew something was wrong, but when they couldn’t find anything, they started to worry. Due to her rapidly changing behavior, they decided to bring her to Craig Road for a check-up.
When I met them in the exam room, I asked them about her clinical signs. They told me that Blueberry was having trouble with her hind legs giving out on her, and that she wasn’t as active as she normally is. Also that Blueberry, who was housetrained, suddenly started urinating all around the house uncontrollably.
That was when I asked if Blueberry was spayed, and they told me she wasn’t.
I suspected she had a pyometra but I wanted to be sure. This is a very nasty infection of the uterus, and if left untreated, is usually fatal. Pyometra is something that all unspayed, female dogs are susceptible to and even with aggressive treatment, can still be fatal.
A pyometra typically follows a dog’s most recent heat cycle. When the animal is going through heat (estrus), white blood cells are blocked from entering the uterus, so that sperm can enter without being attacked. White blood cells usually prevent infections. After a heat cycle has ended, the uterus walls thicken and the progesterone hormone levels elevate to prepare the body for pregnancy and fetal development. When the dog has several of these cycles without becoming pregnant, the uterine wall continues to thicken until cysts start to form. These cysts then start to secrete fluid and becomes the ideal environment for bacteria.
While a pyometra can happen to any intact female dog at any age, the infection is most common in older females.
X-rays were recommended, to diagnose this potentially deadly infection. When I looked at Blueberry’ x-rays, the uterus was engorged as if the dog was pregnant. However, these were not puppies, the uterus was completely filled with pus. It was clear that Blueberry had a pyometra. I let her parents know that the best option was to have surgery right away to remove her uterus, or this infection was likely to be fatal.
We immediately prepped Blueberry for surgery. The removal of the infected uterus is a similar procedure as a regular spay, but with the added complication of a major whole body infection, risk of rupturing the uterus, increased risk of hemorrahage, and a much more complex recovery. After the infected uterus was removed, it was weighed and found to be four pounds! Other patients have been found to have infected uteri up to 10 pounds!!
There are two forms of pyometra, open and closed. Blueberry was experiencing a closed pyometra, which is the more deadly form because the pus cannot drain from the body. Pus then builds up within the uterus, causing the abdomen to swell, and eventually the uterus to rupture, killing the patient. Blueberry wasn’t getting up because her uterus was so enlarged that it caused discomfort while moving. Blueberry was lethargic due to the toxins that build up from the infection. She was drinking a lot of water in attempts to flush the infection out of her body. Both of which, leads to the inappropriate urinating around the house.
In an open pyometra, the infection within the uterus is able to drain from the body, resulting in the dog having a foul smelling, vaginal discharge. More often than not, even if the pet has an open pyometra, it quickly turns into a closed pyometra. Either way, chances of a pet surviving an open or closed infection are extremely low without aggressive treatment.
Because Blueberry’s parents were so in tune to their dog’s behavior, they were able to notice something was wrong right away, and seek appropriate medical advice. It was for this reason they were able to catch the infection early on. Blueberry’s chances of surviving the surgery was much higher than if they had waited.
Blueberry’s procedure went very well, with no major complications. She made a full recovery and a few days post-surgery, was able to go home. Her parents are so happy to have their healthy baby girl back to normal. It was great to see her back to her usual self!
***WARNING*** The image below may be disturbing to viewer
This is what was inside Blueberry’s pyometra and making her ill.
By Tianna Winters
Sara was making her normal rounds on the farm when she stumbled across a brown heap of fur. “He was just curled up into a little ball, and you can tell that he was starved, just skin and bones,” she said. Sara remembers how it was easy to tell he had been out here for some time. When she offered him some water, he slowly uncurled and cautiously walked towards her. That’s when she noticed his injury. “His leg looked like it was completely crushed, it was just limp and bent the wrong way,” Sara said.
She called over one of the field hands to help her pick Bill up and carry him back to the farm. “We all discussed what we wanted to do,” she said. “We knew that the leg was going to have to be amputated because it just looked terrible.” Sara and a few of her coworkers take their pets to Craig Road Animal Hospital which is how we came to know the story of Bill. “We saw Bill right away and decided the best thing we could do was to amputate the leg,” said Katherine Ballor, DVM who saw Bill that day. “We took x-rays to check for internal injuries, we ran blood to check the internal organs, and ran a fecal test to check for parasites,” Dr. Ballor said. “Bill was malnourished, had parasites, and a severely injured leg. The poor guy had it rough.”
After a successful surgery, Dr. Ballor wrapped Bill up and sent him home. A few days later Bill came in for a check-up and the difference was night and day. “The timid, emaciated dog that came in for an emergency turned out to be a playful, affectionate pup,” Dr. Ballor said. “He even started to gain some weight and was already well accustomed to getting around on three legs. He was a completely different dog.” Our entire staff fell in love with Bill the moment he came through our doors. We could not put into words the feeling we had to see him walking around like a normal, lovable dog. And Sara said he’s flourishing at home. “He runs and plays all over the place. He is also starting to understand commands,” she said.
He is also a bit of a guard dog, letting any unfamiliar face know that this is his pack…or at least until Sara tells him to back off. “Overall, he’s just a big teddy bear,” she said. “We all love him on the ranch, he’s our mascot.” His love for his mother definitely shines through. Anywhere she goes, Bill is close by. Her favorite story to share is how affectionate Bill is. He sleeps in his own bed next to hers and throughout the night, Bill lifts his head onto the side of her bed, just to let her know that he’s there. Congratulations Bill, you are our March Pet of the Month!
Watch Bill’s whole story here:
Megan is a Las Vegas local who is studying Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. She was brought back to Las Vegas through Craig Road Animal Hospital’s externship program where she will be getting hands on experience on what it is like to work at a veterinary practice. “I am definitely interested in pursuing a residency in small animal internal medicine,” Megan said. “I’ve always wanted to help animals and the more experience I get, the more I realize that it isn’t just about the animal, it’s about their owners too.”
Megan started working with animals as a Veterinary Assistant while still in high school. “That is where I learned just how important excellent care, medicine, and communication is for the client and patient.”
Megan has a cat named Quincy and a snake named Loki.
“I’m so excited to get started,” she said. “Being a pet owner myself, I can relate to wanting to bring your pets to someone you trust to take care of their loved ones.” After her stay in Vegas, Megan will be on her way to another internship Greensboro, North Carolina before graduating in May.