When female dogs reach sexual maturity, they are at risk of developing pyometra, either in its open or closed form. While this infection of the uterus is treatable, it can unfortunately be fatal for our beloved canine companions.
It is not necessary for the dog to have mated; any dog can suffer from it without prior warning and, given that its symptoms are not always evident, treatment is often started too late, unfortunately. That is why we want to inform you about this disease, its symptoms, treatments, and ways to prevent it.
What is Pyometra, and how does it affect dogs?
Pyometra in dogs is an infection of the uterus and thus an accumulation of purulent material after oestrus in bitches. A few weeks (4–8) after the oestrus has passed, the uterus undergoes various changes. In oestrus, there is an increase in the hormone progesterone and uterine secretion. This, together with the reduction of muscular contraction of the uterus and bacterial proliferation (E. coli), leads to the pathology of pyometra.
The uterine secretions caused by the oestrus cycle itself can also be stored, producing the same infectious problem.
Symptoms of Pyometra in dogs
There are two types of pyometra in dogs; open and closed. In closed pyometra, the uterus is closed and we cannot observe the excretion of the secretion to the outside as in open pyometra, but we can sometimes observe the abdominal distension of our bitch.
The closed uterus is more urgent as, externally, very few symptoms are visible at first sight.
Therefore, in open pyometra, we will see the discharge from the vulva of purulent content (pus), possibly mixed with digested blood (chocolate color), that has originated inside the uterus, giving us a clear clue that something is wrong.
The main symptoms that can be observed in a bitch with pyometra are:
Expulsion of abnormal vaginal fluids in the open type (pus, digested blood or its mixture).
- Foul odour of contents.
- Abdominal distention.
- Polydipsia/polyuria (drinking more and urinating more than usual).
If the vet were to carry out a blood test, he would see an increase in white blood cells, anemia, increased liver enzymes, etc.
Diagnosis of pyometra in dogs
The vet, in addition to observing most of the symptoms described above, may carry out complementary tests such as a blood test, an X-ray and/or ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis of pyometra. These will show the presence of pus in the dog's caudal abdomen.
Pyometra in dogs treatment
We do not propose any form of home treatment due to the severity of this condition. If we suspect that our dog has this infection (particularly the closed type), we must see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Following a thorough examination of our dog, the vet will determine the appropriate treatment. Surgical removal of the uterus or provision of a drainage system is fairly common.
As well as, obviously, a significant amount of antibiotics to stop the infection and possible septicaemia (spread of this infection to the bloodstream).
The best preventative against this disease is to spay our bitches (castration, not neutering). This prevents this and many other possible pathologies as well as possible tumours.