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Pyometra is a very serious and potentially life-threatening infection of the uterus that causes it to fill with bacteria and pus.

Many dogs with a pyometra have vaginal discharge (some do not and they are called a closed pyometra) and may feel very sick with a poor appetite, lethargy, vomiting and sometimes increased thirst or urination.

The most effective treatment for pyometra is surgery to remove the uterus and ovaries, also known as a spay. Any female dog that has not been spayed can develop a pyometra.

Most dogs have a good prognosis if diagnosed and treated promptly, but it can be deadly if left untreated.

Pyometra can be easily prevented by spaying at a young and healthy age.

Pyometra Overview:

- Potentially life-threatening uterus infection.

- Unspayed middle-aged and older female dogs are at high risk.

- Urgent medical attention needed with surgery and antibiotics.

- Good prognosis with early intervention, but fatal if untreated.

- Prevented by spaying female dogs at a young and healthy age.


- Hormonal changes and commonly E. coli cause pyometra.

- Typically during a dog's estrus when the cervix is relaxed.

- Occurs 1-2 months after the previous heat cycle.

- Cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH) can develop from repeated heat cycles.

- Less common: Stump pyometra if not all ovarian tissue is removed post-spay.

Clinical Signs:

- Severity depends on open or closed cervix.

- Open cervix: Cream-colored or bloody vaginal discharge.

- Systemic signs even with a closed cervix.


- Veterinarian diagnosis based on physical exam and history.

- Tests include ultrasound, X-rays, blood work, urine sample, and vaginal cytology.


- Pyometra is a medical emergency.

- Mainstay: IV fluids, antibiotics, ovariohysterectomy (spay).

- Surgery often more complex than a routine spay.

- Medical management with prostaglandin considered in specific cases.


- Untreated pyometra can be deadly from infection and sepsis.

- Good prognosis with early surgery; worse for sepsis or ruptured uterus.

- Medical treatment may lead to recurrence and has potential side effects.


- Entirely preventable by spaying before infection.

- Spaying recommended to avoid pyometra.

- Breeding dogs at appropriate age minimizes risk.

- Safer and less costly to spay while young and healthy.

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