Pyometra is a serious type of secondary infection that occurs in the female reproductive tract of your dog. It normally occurs a few weeks following your dog’s heat cycle and is caused by an increased level of progesterone. All unspayed female dogs are at risk of developing pyometra.
Types of Pyometra
There are two types of pyometra, known as open and closed. In open pyometra, your dog will have a foul-smelling discharge emanating from the vaginal area. In closed pyometra, there is no opening for the pus to drain away and so it builds up inside the body instead. For this reason, closed pyometra is considered to be more serious and so must be treated as a matter of urgency.
Early Signs of Pyometra
The symptoms of pyometra usually begin between four and eight weeks following a season. Signs that you should look out for include:
Drinking more than usual
Pus leaking from the vaginal area
Loss of appetite
Urinating more than usual
Unwillingness to exercise
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important that you get your dog checked by your veterinarian as soon as possible. As with many other diseases, the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome is likely to be for your dog. Without prompt action, it is possible for the uterus to rupture, putting your dog at risk of high fever, sepsis (formerly known as septicemia aka blood poisoning), and symptoms of shock – all of which have the potential to be fatal.
Your vet will ask you about when your dog’s last season was, whether she has been cleaning herself around her vulva more often than usual, and if she has exhibited any unusual behaviors. An ultrasound may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
What is the Treatment for Pyometra?
The only way to effectively and successfully treat pyometra is with surgery to remove part or all of the infected womb. However, this is more complicated than a regular spaying procedure which is usually quite straightforward. This is because additional care needs to be taken to deal with the infected areas of the womb, which are likely to be weakened and so more likely to come apart, increasing the risk of subsequent infections. Predictably, the earlier the infected womb is removed, the better the outcome for your dog. Being left in place will almost certainly prove fatal. Nevertheless, there is a degree of risk associated with the procedure itself.
Where possible, we recommend that the entire womb is removed as this will prevent further cases of pyometra from developing – something which is rare, but that can happen if any womb tissue remains. Spaying your female dog will prevent your dog from developing pyometra – as well as pregnancy and other health conditions.
If you have any further questions about pyometra or spaying, please speak to our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary team at Spay Now Animal Surgery Clinic in Grasonville and Laurel, Maryland at 410-827-6464 or 301-483-7080.