Pet Health

Frequently Asked Questions About Pyometra in Dogs

Many female mammals, including cats and dogs, can experience serious reproductive health challenges. Even though they have internal reproductive organs, germs can still enter through the vagina and create an infection known as pyometra. Pyometra can prove fatal if it goes without prompt emergency veterinary care.

If you own a female dog, you need to understand some important points about canine pyometra, from its causes and symptoms to veterinary treatment and potential prevention. The answers to the following frequently asked questions should give you the basic knowledge you need to help protect your pet’s internal health.

Why Do Dogs Develop Pyometra?

In female dogs, the cervix serves as the passageway between the vagina and the uterus. This passageway remains closed most of the time. However, when a dog goes into heat, the hormonal changes cause the cervix to open. Bacteria can then invade the uterus and create the infection known as pyometra.

Pyometra tends to occur in older female dogs who have experienced multiple heat cycles without getting pregnant. These unproductive cycles allow the uterine walls to grow thicker and secrete fluids that nurture bacteria. Heat cycles also prevent disease-fighting white blood cells from protecting the uterus against this bacteria.

Pyometra can take two primary forms. In open pyometra, fluids can still exit the uterus through the cervix. In closed pyometra, the cervix shuts off this exit route, allowing pus and other fluids to build up to dangerous levels. Eventually, a severe case of closed pyometra can cause the uterus to rupture, leading to a systemic infection.

When Should You Suspect Pyometra in Your Dog?

The symptoms of pyometra may not appear for several weeks following your dog’s last heat cycle. An early-stage infection may produce only a small amount of fluid discharge. Stains on your dog’s bedding or under your dog’s tail, possibly accompanied by lethargy or a fever, may mean that your dog has open pyometra.

Closed pyometra tends to create more acute and alarming symptoms than open pyometra. Your dog may display extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, panting, and abdominal bloating. If the bacteria has affected the kidneys, your dog may drink more water and urinate more frequently than usual.

How Do Veterinarians Deal With Pyometra?

Veterinarians consider canine pyometra an emergency condition, especially the closed variety. If X-rays, ultrasound, and other diagnostic techniques reveal pyometra, your veterinarian will perform an emergency spay surgery. Immediate removal of the uterus, along with intravenous fluids, can save your dog’s life.

Spay surgery in a dog with pyometra can prove more complicated than an ordinary spay procedure, meaning that your dog might need to spend some time in the animal hospital. After your dog undergoes this spay surgery, she may also require a course of antibiotic therapy to kill off any traces of systemic infection.

How Can You Protect Your Dog Against Pyometra?

Since pyometra occurs as the direct byproduct of heat cycles, you can prevent your dog from developing the condition by scheduling routine spay surgery. To give your pet the biggest possible safety margin, schedule this surgery before she reaches sexual majority and experiences her first heat cycle.

Spay surgery provides a host of other health and wellness benefits in addition to eliminating the risk of pyometra. This safe, well-established procedure also removes the dangers associated with both uterine cancer and ovarian cancer. It can even drastically reduce your dog’s lifetime risk of breast cancer.

If your dog shows signs of pyometra, bring her to 1st Pet Veterinary Centers right away. Our experienced emergency veterinary team can diagnose the condition and perform potentially life-saving surgery, not just for pyometra but for other emergency conditions as well. Contact us 24 hours a day at any of our locations.