Pyometra is a disease of the uterus most commonly seen in female dogs. Pyometra is an important disease to be aware of for any dog owner because of the sudden nature of the disease and the deadly consequences if left untreated.
Pyometra is a result of hormonal and structural changes in the uterus lining. This can happen at any age, whether she has bred or not, and whether it is her 1st or 10th heat (although it becomes more common as the dog gets older). The main risk period for a female is for eight weeks after her peak standing heat has ended. Normally during this period, the cervix, which was open during her heat, begins to close, and the inner lining begins to adapt back to normal. However, cystic hyperplasi of the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) – known as cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH) – may occur at this time for some animals, as an inappropriate response to progesterone.
Under these circumstances, bacteria that have migrated from the vagina into the uterus find the environment favorable to growth, especially since progesterone also causes mucus secretion, closes the cervix (preventing uterine drainage), and decreases uterine contractility. The condition of the cervix is a major factor in the severity of the condition.
- If the cervix is open, the infected material can leave the body, and this is far easier and safer to treat. This is known as open pyometra.
- If the cervix is fully closed, there is no discharge from the vulva, and like in appendicitis, the uterus may rupture and pus escapes into the abdomen, causing peritonitis and possible rapid death. This is known as closed pyometra.
The most obvious symptom of open pyometra is a discharge of pus from the vulva in a Female that has recently been in heat. However, symptoms of closed pyometra are less obvious. Symptoms of both types include vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, and increased drinking and urinating. Fever is seen in less than a third of female dogs with pyometra. Closed pyometra is a more serious condition than open pyometra not only because there is no outlet for the infection but also because a diagnosis of closed pyometra can easily be missed due to its insidious nature. Bloodwork may show dehydration, increased white blood cell count, and increased alkaline phospatase. X-rays will show an enlarged uterus, and ultrasound will confirm the presence of a fluid filled uterus.
The most important aspect of treatment of pyometra is quick action. Female dogs are often septic and in shock. Intravenous fluids and antibiotics should be given immediately. The treatment of choice is an emergency spay to remove the infected organ.
***So the next time you meet someone with a female that isn't fixed and they give you some lame excuse as to why it isn't fixed like "she is never around other dogs" Ask them if they love their dog and want her to live a health FULL life or die in horrible pain??
When I asked my vet office about this they said they see at least 1 a week. So, this isn't something rare that only happens once in a great while.... it is pretty common.