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.
- 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.
- 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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