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Last week I saved a life

My patient was a nine year old Bichon Frise. She was new to me. I have known some pets
for their whole lives, and can read how they are feeling, being familiar with their foibles.

But this pet behaved like an ancient. Her head and tail were down, and she was hunched up.
Her owner said her belly was distended as if she were pregnant, she had been sick several
times and was not keeping any food down.

The poor little soul had a suspicion of pus from her lady parts, and groaned when I palpated
her abdomen. I suspected a pyometra.

Pyometra is the term that describes when a dog’s womb fills up with infection, instead of
puppies. It can only happen to those that are not neutered, and is of itself a major reason
why I recommend routine neutering of lady dogs once their breeding life is behind them.
The womb is designed to be tremendously elastic. So it can enclose large volumes of pus.
Poisons from this enter the blood stream and cause septicaemia. My poor patient was quite
far gone and needed emergency surgery to save her life.

The surgery is moderately routine for me, but a huge experience for the pet and her owner. I
was amazed to take out a womb that should normally be about as thick as my little finger but
was actually closer to my wrist in diameter. She was only six kilos!

With intravenous fluids, pain killers and antibiotics she made a rapid recovery.

We met again three days later, and I could hardly believe it was the same pet! She arrived
dancing: tail up, ears up, eyes shining with enthusiasm, hopping from foot to foot for some
treats! It was the most wonderful outcome.

Her appetite is back, she has not vomited again, and she has already gained some weight. It
was as if I had made her years younger!

If you are reading this story, and it reminds you that your own lady dog is middle aged and
not yet neutered, you might like to consider a conversation with your vet about whether
neutering soon would be better than facing a pyometra.

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