What is Pyometra?
Pyometra is an infectious and inflammatory disease which causes a dog’s uterus to fill with pus. The condition is driven by hormonal changes and is estimated to affect one in four un-neutered bitches before they reach the age of 10.
The most common time to see a pyometra is between one to three months after a dog has been in season. The hormonal changes force the glands in the uterus to increase and pockets of bacteria can form and grow into large quantities of pus. Left undetected, a pyometra can become life-threatening; however, the disease can be diagnosed quickly by a vet who will perform an ultrasound scan of the dog’s abdomen. Last year, we performed almost 200 life-saving operations to treat pyometra.
What are the signs and symptoms of Pyometra?
There are two types of pyometra; an open form and a closed form. The most obvious sign of an open pyometra is discharge coming from the dog’s vulva. They can also have a distorted abdomen or have excessive bloating.
A closed form is harder to detect as there are often no external signs (such as discharge) as the uterus will fill with pus and becomes enlarged, leaving it at risk of rupturing. Other common signs include a decrease in your dog’s appetite and they may drink less water, causing them to become dehydrated. They may also experience some vomiting.
It’s important for a pyometra to be diagnosed quickly to minimise the chance of toxins affecting a dog’s kidneys, which can cause kidney failure.
How is Pyometra treated?
Upon diagnosis of a pyometra, your vet will first work to stabilise your dog. This is usually done using an intravenous drip, which can help support and reduce any signs of dehydration. From here, surgery is often the most common and recommended form of treatment. This will involve removing the dog’s ovaries and uterus, which takes away the source of pus and eliminates the chances of the condition ever returning.
In most cases, dogs will recover well and quickly from surgery and will be discharged and back home within 48 hours. In some circumstances where surgery is not advisable, a series of injections can be administered. This can help change the dog’s hormones and support the removal of pus from the uterus. At Animal Trust, the cost of surgical treatment for pyometra is £589 when paid for at admission, which includes the anaesthetic, blood test, and routine medication to go home with.
Can Pyometra be prevented?
The only way to guarantee that your dog won’t be affected by pyometra is to have them spayed. By spaying your dog, their reproductive organs (ovaries and uterus) are removed, meaning a pyometra can’t form. You can have your dog spayed from five months old and it holds many health benefits, including helping to prevent urine infections. Animal Trust carries out 1000 spaying operations each year and the procedure will usually see your dog returning home the same day.