Pyometra in dogs is a deadly disease that only affects females. This condition indicates a ‘pus in the womb’ and is common to adult intact bitches. When left untreated, it may develop blood complications, dehydration, kidney failure, and worse, death. As such, vets and animal enthusiasts have voiced their concerns to all pet owners.
‘If it is left too long the infection will become huge and eventually the animal’s body just can’t fight it,’ Charlotte Hailstones, a veterinary nurse, stated. She added that it is important to recognise early signs considering that such disease cannot be easily treated without severe risks.
How do dogs get pyometra?
Pyometra may be caused by hormonal as well as bacterial infection. It occurs in females typically during or immediately after the oestrous cycle. A bitch in season goes through some hormonal imbalances that expose endometrium (uterus lining) to high concentrations of oestrogen. Moreover, during diestrus —the period after the heat cycle—high concentrations of progesterone manifest. The uterus of an unspayed bitch continues to thicken from the release of both the progesterone and oestrogen. This is when the bacteria can develop and lead to pyometra. E. coli is the usual cause of bacterial infection moving from the vagina through the cervix.
Types of pyometra in dogs
- Open Pyometra
When the cervix is open, this makes the pooch susceptible to infection. This usually leads to blood discharge around the vulva. That being said, it is often mistaken as part of the heat cycle. The dog should immediately receive treatments as it can cause damage to organs, especially the kidneys.
- Closed Pyometra
This is a more life-threatening condition than the former. This type of pyometra occurs when the closure of the cervix is causing pus to bleed within the uterus. The signs are not noticeable because there is no blood discharge. However, this type could worsen in a short period of time. This may cause your dog’s uterus to continuously expand or lead to kidney failure.
- Stump Pyometra
This is a rare type but it is as dangerous as with the aforementioned two types. This occurs unexpectedly to spayed animals. This may occur in the tissue remnants left behind during a routine spray and are filled with infected fluid.
What are the symptoms of pyometra in dogs?
It usually occurs in middle-age bitches and can, unfortunately, happen as early as the first heat cycle. The critical period starts within twelve weeks after a heat cycle.
Symptoms may vary on the condition of the cervix whether it is open or not.
When it is an open cervix, symptoms include:
- Pus or abnormal discharge
When the cervix is closed, symptoms include:
How is pyometra in dogs treated?
Before prescribing any treatments, the vet will need to examine the cervix of your bitch. This is to find out whether the cervix is open or closed and how progressive the infection has developed. The findings will determine the next step.
The most commonly advised treatment for pyometra in dogs is an ovariohysterectomy or spay. The treatment will be performed by veterinary surgeons who will remove the ovaries and uterus. This is to prevent the latter from rupturing.
For dog owners who still desire their bitches to be bred, you may ask prescription for appropriate medical treatment. This entails hospitalisation, fluids, prostaglandins, and getting the appropriate use and dosage of antibiotics. However, if it remains unsuccessful after five days, you should consider spaying your canine. If medical treatment deems to be successful, the bitch should be bred on her next cycle.
Can pyometra in dogs be treated with antibiotics? The use of antibiotics alone will not treat pyometra in dogs. Medical treatment is usually aided with prostaglandin injections to drop the dog’s progesterone production. The goal is to have a uterus contraction and consequent expulsion of the particular infection from the uterus. You will need a professional look on what antibiotics are used to treat pyometra in dogs.
How much does it cost to treat a dog with pyometra? It largely depends on the location and the condition of your dog. On the other hand, consider the following in your calculations:
- Diagnostic tests
- Anaesthetic agents
- IV fluids
- Suture materials used
- Follow-up treatment required (in case there is)
How to prevent pyometra in dogs
The best way to prevent the risk of pyometra is to spay your pooch before her first season. Aside from the prevention of pyometra, spaying protects other reproductive diseases as well. As early as six months of age, the female may undergo the removal of the ovaries and uterus. A routine spay and general anaesthetic on a healthy dog is safer than emergency surgery.
As for breeders, you may still be able to protect your pet by closely monitoring their seasons and beware of any changes in behaviour.