The most common problem that SAGE Compassion for Animals gives grant awards for dogs is also the MOST easily preventable problem! Pyometra is an infection in the uterus of a dog that has not been spayed. It is estimated that up to 25% of dogs less than 10 years of age can get this disease – but only if they are not spayed!!
It happens commonly because dogs go through a heat cycle when their hormones change to allow the uterus to be more susceptible to infection. The more heat cycles, the more susceptible the uterus becomes. Overtime, bacteria that naturally live in the vaginal area of the dog, find their way up into the uterus and fill the uterus with essentially pus! This infection cannot be treated with antibiotics and can spread throughout the dog’s body – or even worse – cause the uterus to rupture. This is why pyometra can be life-threatening! A dog can do well with surgery if caught in time – however, that surgery is now an emergency and not only is your dog at risk, but also your wallet!
Within the San Francisco Bay Area, there are a lot of options on where to spay your dog. A number of shelters will spay the dogs prior to adoption, however, a number of people might get their dog from well-meaning friends and family members giving away a “free” puppy. Puppies should never be considered free, especially since they will benefit from being spayed before their next heat. Not only will you prevent pyometra, but you also bring the risk of breast cancer (also common in dogs) to almost zero if done early in life. Not to mention, preventing pregnancy and certain behavioral issues.
The cost of a dog spay is often related to the size of the dog, but can range from $100-200 at a low-cost clinic up to $500-800 for a routine spay in a full-service primary care facility. Often times, wellness plans offered at your primary care veterinarian can include a spay at a discount.
Compare those costs to a pyometra surgery! Of the 14 dogs with pyometra that SAGEC4A has saved, the average grant was around $1,500 plus the costs the client covered. Costs can range from $1,500 at low-cost clinics (that are difficult to book cases in because they are so busy!), $3,000-4,000 at a primary care facility, and upwards of $6,000-8,000 at a specialty 24-hour facility – which may be necessary given the timing of the problem and the severity of the state that the dog is in.
Luckily, all of the dogs that we have helped have gone home to live normal, healthy lives and that is often the case with pyometra if caught early. But you do not need to even worry about this problem if you get your dog spayed!!