Pyometra: Symptoms and Treatment in Dogs
Another Reason Why Dogs Should Be Spayed
The simple thought of having a female dog potentially go through a condition as serious as pyometra, should allow new owners to quickly make the decision of having their dog spayed. Pyometra is basically a life-threatening infection in the uterus causing an accumulation of pus in the uterine cavity. The condition appears to typically occur in non-spayed female dogs over the age of 6 years old.
Typically, a case of Pyometra may present approximately between 4 to 8 weeks after the last heat. Because during a dog's heat the cervix is relaxed, bacteria may easily have access and flourish on the thickened uterus walls. Once the bacteria has set ground, shortly thereafter, the uterus will become thick, fill with fluid and cause symptoms of malaise in the dog.
Symptoms of Pyometra
There are two types of Pyometra: open and closed.
- In an open pyometra, the cervix is relaxed and the dog will have foul, pus-like vaginal discharge often resembling tomato soup. Such discharge may be found on the floor or in places where the dog lays on. There may not be many other accompanying symptoms.
- When the Pyometra is closed, the dog pus is trapped inside causing the uterus to enlarge often causing abdominal swelling. Some times the enlarge uterus become so heavy that the dog has a hard time getting up and the rear legs will be weak.
Because of this toxic build up, closed pyometra affected dogs will begin to appear lethargic for no reason. They may refuse to eat and may drink a lot of water in an attempt to flushing the harmful bacteria out. Increased drinking obviously will cause increased urination. Vomiting and diarrhea may also develop. If left untreated, the uterus may rupture and the dog may develop sepsis with a high fever with rapid pulse and symptoms of shock. The condition at this point will ultimately be fatal within 24-48 hours.
Diagnosis of Pyometra
Any time an intact female dog becomes sick for no obvious reason, it is a good idea to rule out this serious condition. Diagnosis is usually obtained via blood work confirming signs of infection such as a high white blood count. An ultrasound or X-ray may show an enlarged or pus-filled uterus.
Treatment of Pyometra
When diagnosed early treatment can be very effective, Treatment mainly consists of fluids to correct dehydration, antibiotics to fight off the infection, and surgery, which in reality is a spay with the removal of the uterus. The surgery can be quite risky, because any spill of the toxic contents of the uterus may cause peritonitis.
In some cases, when the pyometra is open and the dog is a dam used for breeding, antibiotics may be given and prostaglandins (Lutalyse) that relax the cervix and stimulates contractions that help remove the pus from the uterus. However, there are high chances of the pyometra to recur unless the dog is bred on the next heat cycle.
As seen, Pyometra is a very serious condition not worth the risk. If you own an intact female, but yet, you are not a professional breeder, it is strongly advised to have your dog spayed.
Vet Explains Pyometra
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Can a spayed dog develope pyometra?
Technically, no, because when a dog is spayed the uterus is removed, and when a dog develops pyometra the uterus becomes infected. However, when dogs are spayed, in some cases it can happen that the vet accidentally leaves behind a bit of uterine tissue. This may lead to what is known as "stump pyometra." In such a case though, the situation is less critical than a pyometra in an intact female dog and antibiotics may help.Helpful 13
What kind of vitals would a dog with pyometra have?
A dog with pyometra would typically have an elevated temperature, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking and increased urination. Because these symptoms are vague and may resemble other illnesses, any non-spayed female dog not acting right should be seen by a vet to rule this life-threatening condition out. Pyometra typically appear one to three months after the dog has finished the heat cycle. If you suspect pyometra in your dog, have her seen as possible, in the veterinary field there's a saying "never let the sun set on pyometra" for the simple fact that things can go downhill fast.Helpful 19
My dog eats and isn't lethargic, she is playful and runs and wags her tail and is very loving as she has always been and she plays with my rescue dog. I am taking her to the vet 3/23/18 and I'm going to have her spayed. Is there anything I can do for the next six days?
Dogs with pyometra generally act quite sick, most likely you are dealing with open pyometra at the very early stages. In the vet field, there is a saying, "never let the sun set on pyometra" to emphasize how quickly things can go downhill. I can see waiting for the surgery a day or two possibly with the vet giving fluids before surgery, but a week sounds like a long stretch. The vets I worked with wanted to do surgery the same day of the diagnosis. You attain best results when the surgery is done sooner rather than later.Helpful 16
My dog died at 12 years of age. She had dark red discharge and was urinating on the floor and vomiting. She died within 48 hours. What could have caused this?
The symptoms of pyometra include discharge that may be mucus-like or bloody, lethargy, anorexia, increased thirst and increased urination, vomiting and diarrhea, and abdominal swelling. In the veterinary world, there is a saying "never let the sun set on pyometra" meaning that affected dogs should be treated as soon as possible as life-threatening complications may soon set in.
Left untreated it can quickly progress to sepsis and death. Pyometra usually arises 60-70 days after a heat cycle, but it can occur earlier. Of course, other things may have happened such as exposure to rat poison may cause bleeding from any orifice. Only a necropsy can truly determine the cause of death.Helpful 13
My dog just had Pyometra surgery ten days ago, and is now bleeding from the vaginal area. What could this be from?
This doesn't sound normal. You should consult with your vet on this sooner than later. The bleeding can be due to several factors such as infection of the uterine stomp, the vet accidentally leaving behind some ovarian tissue (causing her to go into heat) or perhaps it's a UTI. Keep an eye on her on her gum color; make sure it's nice and pink. Of course, see an emergency vet immediately if the bleeding is profuse, you notice pale gums, lethargy, restlessness or the abdomen is enlarging.Helpful 12