Friday, March 13, 2009

Reproductive health of bitches: Pyometra

Has your female dog been suffering from anorexia, vomition and inappetance. Does it also show discharges from its vaginal opening?? If your female dog is not spayed and shows the above mentioned signs, it may be due to a disease of uterus called pyometra. In such condition, immediate visit to vet is required.


Pyometra is a condition in which the uterus of the dog is filled with pus. Pyometra occurs mostly 4-8 weeks after oestrus or few weeks after parturition. This is due to pathological bacteria entering the birth canal through open cervix. As such infection of the uterus occurs. Hormonal imbalance in the body may also result in pyometra. Infection or hormones result in fluid and toxic materials formation in the uterus and gets accumulated in it. The normal pencil size uterus increases considerably with the contents. As the disease progresses, condition worsens. Toxic materials are circulated through entire body system. In case treatment is not started immediately, death may occur due to septicemia.


The most common clinical signs that are present in >50% of dogs are:
• Lethargy
• Depression
• Anorexia
• excessive water intake
• excessive urination
• pale mucous membranes
• Vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal distension, and inflamed eyes have been reported although much less frequently
• Up to 16% of patients may have no clinical signs other than purulent vaginal discharge.

Many dogs will have a closed cervix and therefore the obvious sign of a sanguinous (bloody) to mucopurulent, hemorrhagic vaginal discharge may not be present.

When to Seek Veterinary Advice

If your pet has recently had a heat cycle and displays any of the listed clinical signs, veterinary attention should be sought immediately. Most veterinarians are well equipped to diagnose a pyometra. However, many patients will need 24 hour intensive care after the procedure to help with the systemic disease.

Exam, Screening Tests and Imaging

Most of the time, your veterinarian will probably suspect the diagnosis based on your history and the animal’s physical exam. If the cervix is not open, the diagnosis may take a few more diagnostic tests. In general, a fluid distended uterus is needed to diagnose pyometra. The veterinarian will most likely perform a general chemistry profile, complete blood count, urinalysis, abdominal radiographs, abdominal ultrasound and perhaps vaginal cytology to help rule in or out pyometra. Radiographs are typically very suggestive but abdominal ultrasounds will typically identify the fluid filled uterus


Pyometra cannot be well treated by antibiotics alone. Even antibiotic therapy alongwith douching of the pus filled uterus is of less help. By far, surgical removal of the infected uterus by means of spaying (Ovario-hysterectomy) is found to be the best solution of the problem. Post-operative care has to be given to spayed bitches with proper course of antibiotics.