What is Pyometra?
Pyometra is a uterine infection where the womb is filled with pus, it is a well known condition in entire (not neutered) female dogs that can be fatal if not treated.
What Causes a Pyometra?
There are many factors that can lead to a uterine infection, some are listed below.
- Hormonal imbalances
- An ascending infection – an infection that spreads from the vulva in to the womb
- An infection elsewhere in the body
- After whelping
The signs we see in dogs with a pyometra can be very vague, often your vet will need to consider many factors to make a diagnosis. They can also vary depending on whether the pyometra is close (cervix closed) or open (cervix open).
The common things we see are;
- Increased thirst
- Discharge from vulva (open pyometra)
- Licking around back end
Pyometra is most likely to occur 6-8 weeks post season but can be seen at other times.
Many diagnostic tests may be needed to investigate a suspected pyometra.
- Your vet may perform an ultrasound scan or radiographs of the abdomen to check for a fluid filled uterus.
- Blood tests are often used to check the white blood cell count and for any other imbalances.
- Exploratory Laparotomy may be required to get a definitive diagnosis. This is when your vet performs surgery to look inside the dogs abdomen.
The treatment for a pyometra is surgery to remove the uterus once the dog is stable.
Stabilisation may require intravenous fluids, antibiotics and pain relief prior to surgery.
Why not antibiotics?
Antibiotic treatment of a pyometra is often unsuccessful and frustrating. The thickness and volume of pus in the uterus means that antibiotics struggle to penetrate. When they do help to reduce clinical signs we generally see a recurrence of the infection post treatment.
What is the difference between a spay for a pyometra and a normal spay?
Although the surgery for a pyometra is slightly more risky that that for a routine spay the vast majority of dogs make a full uneventful recovery.
There is a small risk of abdominal contamination from the pus within the uterus. Most dogs will stay in the hospital on intravenous fluids for a period post surgery.