Pyometra in dogs is a uterine infection that can occur in unspayed females. This infection can occur swiftly and escalate speedily, with potentially life-threatening consequences for your dog. Think of pyometra as being comparable to appendicitis in people; in that if caught early on, treatment options allow for a good recovery. But since some instances of pyometra can lead to a dog’s uterus rupturing, the consequences of not treating the infection in time can be severe.
The only way to prevent pyometra is by spaying your dog, which removes the risk entirely. If your dog is unspayed, find out more about when pyometra can occur, as well as the symptoms, so you can swiftly get your dog the necessary treatment.
Causes of Pyometra in Dogs
The sequence of events that leads to a dog contracting pyometra begins with an unspayed dog going through heat. During estrus, the cervix opens up to allow sperm inside. As well as allowing for impregnation, this creates an opportunity for the bacteria within the dog’s vagina to enter the uterus, leading to the infection. Pyometra will generally appear around two months after a dog’s cycle, and the infection can occur as either open pyometra, with the cervix remaining open and pus draining from the dog’s vagina, or closed, with the cervix closed, and all the infectious pus stuck inside the dog’s body. This second instance of pyometra is more dangerous, and also more challenging to detect.
Symptoms of Pyometra
With the open form of pyometra, the main symptom is pus and discharge from the dog’s vagina -- this can be either yellow in color or may be slightly bloody and red. Dogs will often lick their genetal area in an attempt to clean up and remove the discharge. Both the open and closed forms of pyometra will result in the dog experiencing a lack of appetite, increased drinking and urination, and possibly vomiting. Fever can also occur as a result of the infection. If you observe these symptoms in your dog, and she is unspayed, take her to the vet immediately.
Treatment for Pyometra
Diagnosis of pyometra is easier if it’s open, and the vet can see the discharge. Your vet may also ask when the dog’s last heat occurred, and take blood to check if the dog’s white blood cells are elevated, which can occur with pyometra. Ultrasounds and x-rays can also be helpful for detecting the infection.
Once it’s determined that a dog has pyometra, surgery to remove the dog’s uterus and ovaries will be necessary. Note that since the dog has an infection, this generally low-risk surgery is more tricky than it would be in a healthy dog. However, when caught early, the prognosis after surgery for a dog with pyometra is strong. After surgery, the vet may also need to prescribe antibiotics and IV fluids to counteract dehydration in more severe cases.
The best and only prevention against pyometra is spaying your dog.
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