Pyometra is an infection within the uterus that commonly occurs in older un-spayed female dogs but can also be seen in other mammals and can occur at any age. We consider it an important disease for dog owners to be aware of due to the speed with which it can cause serious illness and death.
It is caused by hormonal changes and bacteria such as E.coli gaining entry to the uterus when the cervix is open during a dog’s season or following pregnancy. The uterus fills with pus and can be very heavy, the uterus in the picture weighed half a stone!!
Signs of pyometra
Signs usually appear 1-2 months after a season and include:
– Licking back end – Vomiting
– Depression and loss of appetite – Collapse
– Drinking/urinating more
– Vulval discharge (not always)
If the cervix has closed to seal in the infection you will not see a discharge but it is very serious as the dog will quickly go into septic shock and the uterus can rupture or the kidneys can fail leading to death if left untreated.
Treatment of pyometra
Treatment of the condition involves intravenous fluids, antibiotics and emergency spaying which carries more risks at this time than the routine operation carried out electively in healthy dogs.
The best prevention of this horrible condition is simply to have females spayed at a young age when they are fit and healthy; we recommend six months of age before first season. If the bitch is used for breeding then spaying when they have had their last litter is highly recommended. The use of hormone injections are a risk factor in the disease process so avoiding their use or careful monitoring afterwards is also advised.
Pyometra is unfortunately a common and serious problem and is one of many good reasons to get you bitch spayed early.