Pyometra originated from the Latin word ‘puss uterus.’ It is a painful condition that affects female dogs. But what is it, and how can you prevent it? Find out everything you need to know about Pyometra in dogs.
Pyometra In Dogs
Pyometra is one of the most painful conditions that can happen to female dogs. It affects the uterus and the ovaries. The reproductive organ becomes infected and swells up like a balloon, making it very painful for the dog.
Why Do Dogs Get Pyometra?
A healthy female reproductive system comprises of 2 smooth and oval-shaped ovaries, a thin elastic uterus, closed cervix and the vagina.
Over the years as female dogs go into heat without getting pregnant, the walls of the uterus start to thicken. With time the walls and the ovaries begin to develop cysts. The cervix may also begin to loosen and remain partially open.
The vagina contains a lot of bacteria, and usually, it does not cause any harm to the body. It is, in fact, beneficial for the rest of the body. But when the cervix is partially open, the bacteria can quickly enter the uterus.
Other times the uterus can also fight back the infection, but when the uterus walls have thickened, and there are cysts in the uterine lining and the ovaries, this becomes a breeding ground for the infection.
As the infection worsens, the uterus swells up and becomes filled with puss. Pyometra is a painful condition for dogs and usually requires surgery.
Symptoms Of Pyometra In Dogs
There are two kinds of Pyometra – closed Pyometra (where the puss is unable to come out) and open Pyometra (where the puss can come out). The symptoms may vary based on whether the dog has closed or open Pyometra.
It is easier to detect open Pyometra because there is visible discharge under there tail, or where they sit. With closed Pyometra, since the discharge has nowhere to go, it can get very bad, very fast.
Common Pyometra Symptoms
- Swollen abdomen
- Lack of energy
- Lack of interest in food
- Visible signs of pain and discomfort
- Emancipated on the rips and legs
When dogs feel discomfort in their abdomen, they tend to increase their water intake. You may notice them drinking more water.
Who Is Most Likely To Getting Pyometra?
While young to middle-aged dogs can get Pyometra, it is most common in senior female dogs. Dogs don’t get Pyometra when they are in their heat, but they are most susceptible to it 2 months after heat if they haven’t conceived.
So as a general rule, if your female dog is:
- A senior dog
- Still intact
- Shows visible signs of pain and discomfort
- Has a swollen belly
- Is drinking more water than usual
- Was in heat 2 months back
They are more likely to have Pyometra.
Can Spayed Dogs Also Get Pyometra?
When the complete reproductive system, that is, if the doctor removes the uterus and both ovaries, there is no chance for the dog to get Pyometra.
However, sometimes, doctors leave behind an ovary and some fragments of the uterus for health reasons and hormonal balance. This may lead to Pyometra too. Veterinarians call it, ‘stump pyometra’ and the symptoms for stump pyometra is the same as Pyometra.
The only difference will be that while an intact female will go into heat at least 2 months before the Pyometra, a spayed female will not. The discharge for partially spayed females will also be lesser, and you may have to be more vigilant to detect that they are facing any discomfort.
Treating Pyometra is almost always includes surgery. If there is visible swelling in the abdomen, the vet will order an ultrasound where the Pyometra will be detected. Then, based on how severe the infection is, doctors will take action.
Usually, dogs that have closed Pyometra need faster action because the puss has nowhere to go. If it continues to build up, the uterus can rupture, and the puss can travel into their blood or other parts of their lower abdomen.
Can You Treat Pyometra Without Surgery?
Doctors rarely treat Pyometra without surgery, but most veterinarians advise against it.
Pet parents usually opt for treatment without surgery when:
- The Pyometra is not as advanced, and surgery is not urgent
- Their dog is very young and has a good chance of recovering
- They have a rare breed and want their dog to have a litter
Most doctors are strictly against treatment without surgery because it is a very painful procedure that puts their life at risk. It is also not possible for dogs with closed Pyometra to get treatment without surgery.
Doctors will give antibiotics orally and through injections to bring the uterus back to its original size and expel all the puss.
Even after the dog heals from Pyometra without surgery, pregnancy becomes very risky, and they become 75% more likely to develop it again.
Surgery is the only pain-free and humane option to cure them of Pyometra.
Most dogs will feel much better right after surgery because both the pain and the source of the infection is gone. They will feel much lighter and so much better.
Dogs that had a ruptured uterus or if the puss has travelled to the blood, it takes longer for them to feel better. In this case, the vet may keep them in the hospital for a few days and give antibiotics.
In most cases, we can bring our dogs back home and follow the same post-surgery care routines as a routine spay. But since a pyometra spay is usually done when the dog is much older, there is a higher chance of infection, and it takes longer for them to heal.
Avoid taking them outside as they may catch an infection and make sure they are having all their meds on time along with proper food and enough water.
They may be tired for a few days after the surgery because of all the medicines, but within 10 days they will bounce back to their usual self.
The only valid prevention for Pyometra is a full spay – or the complete removal of the uterus and both ovaries.
Some veterinarians have different views on sterilisation, and while many vets have valid reasons for keeping at least one ovary, to reduce all chances of Pyometra, they must have a complete spay.
The ovaries produce the hormones that cause Pyometra so even if the ovaries are not affected, it is best to remove them.
There are many pros and cons of doing a proper spay, but the pros outweigh the cons. It certainly reduces the chances of problems during the older ages.
We hope this article was helpful to you. Did your dog ever have Pyometra? How did you help them? Let us know in the comments section below.