*Caution – graphic images below*

Photo courtesy of Kristin Erwin

As Houston PetSet prepares to kick off a major free spay and neuter initiative with the City of Houston this week, we wanted to share a cautionary tale to illustrate why getting pets fixed is so very important.

Meet Memphis Belle. She had spent months on the streets, surviving on food from the dedicated street feeders. She looked old and worn out, and had a big, round belly. Her condition caught the eye of a foster from Lola’s Lucky Day, who jumped into action to get Memphis Belle some care. At first glance, everyone thought she might be pregnant, but she also tested positive for heartworm disease which can cause a distended belly.

Her carers brought her into the veterinarian where it was discovered that she wasn’t pregnant, but instead had what’s called pyometra, or an infection in her uterus. Pyometra is unfortunately quite common in intact female dogs and cats who live on the streets, but it can happen to any pet who hasn’t been spayed. 

When a female dog or cat goes through a heat cycle multiple times without becoming pregnant, the uterine lining can continue to build up until eventually cysts form, and the cystic lining then secretes fluids that create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. The thickened uterine wall also prevents the muscles from contracting so the fluid can’t be expelled, causing the intense swelling and painful condition in which Memphis Belle found herself.

Below, on the left, is a photo of Memphis Belle’s uterus as it was being surgically removed. On the right, for comparison, is a photo of a Giant Schnauzer’s healthy uterus being removed during a routine spay surgery. The dogs are roughly the same size, but you can see the discoloration and swelling of Memphis Belle’s diseased uterus.

There are no two ways about it – if left untreated, pyometra is deadly. Unfortunately, often the symptoms go unnoticed until the animal is very ill. In Memphis Belle’s case, her foster scooped her up just in the nick of time. Without surgery, Memphis Belle would have died painfully on the streets. 

Houston PetSet was happy to pay the $600 to cover the cost of her emergency surgery, and we’re pleased to report that she’s feeling much better in her foster’s care. But other dogs and cats aren’t so lucky. That’s just one of the many reasons why it is so important to spay female pets. Their lives could depend on it!

Memphis Belle feeling much better!
Photo courtesy of Kristin Erwin

To learn more about our spay/neuter initiative with BARC and the City of Houston, please click here.

Lisa Tynan