Is my dog ​​at risk for pyometra? - Direct veterinary help (2023)

Lar»All releases»life and death»Is my dog ​​at risk of pyometra?

Joe Dunne BVMedSci (hons), BVM BVS (hons), MRCVS

6. October 2020 •286 shares19 comments

You may have heard of pyometra before; Although common, it is one of the deadliest diseases we vets encounter.

What is pyometra?

Pyometra literally means "pus in the uterus". It occurs in about 25% of bitches who have not been spayed before the age of 10. Pyometra is essentially a uterine infection. It occurs because the repeated cycles of estrogen and progesterone that bitches experience in normal cycles increase the thickening of the uterine wall. And unlike humans, dogs don't shed their womb lining late in the season unless they're pregnant. Instead, the lining thickens over time, trapping fluid and mucus — sometimes called mucometra. A mucometer is not dangerous, but when bacteria get into the uterus, they find the perfect environment to multiply. Massive infection follows.

What are the signs of pyometra?

Pyometra almost always occurs relatively towards the end of the last season - usually 4 to 6 weeks after the bleeding has stopped. Dogs are typically three years or older, although pyometra has occasionally been diagnosed in some dogs after just one season. Affected dogs gradually become sicker: they may stop eating, become lethargic, or vomit. They usually have increased thirst and also urinate more frequently. Owners may notice that they lick their backs more than usual.

Cloudy discharge from the vulva is sometimes evident, but its absence doesn't mean pyometra isn't possible—in fact, the most severe forms of pyometra occur when the cervix is ​​closed and pus can't escape. The discharge can also be intermittent, or dogs may stop having a discharge when the cervix closes - this is usually seen as an improvement by many owners but is almost always followed by a worsening of their condition.

How is pyometra diagnosed?

Whole bitches showing symptoms at the correct stage of the cycle should always have an ultrasound done. Ultrasound is easy to perform and usually provides a diagnosis without anesthesia or sedation in well-behaved dogs. Vets will also need to examine the dog as a whole, take your dog's temperature and may recommend blood tests to check kidney and liver function.

How can pyometra be treated?

There are two ways to treat pyometra. Surgery is usually recommended as it is a permanent solution. The operation is like sterilization – the ovaries and uterus are removed through an abdominal incision. However, unlike a regular neuter, the uterus is heavier and filled with pus, which could certainly kill the dog if any leaks out. This makes it a much riskier operation than regular sterilization.

Drug treatment is also possible. Dogs are given injections of an abortifacient and antibiotics. This causes the body to stop the cycle and the infection begins to improve. Medical treatment is not always successful and there is a high possibility that pyometra will recur in the next cycle. However, it sometimes avoids risky surgeries and allows the uterus to heal, allowing sterilization to be scheduled for the usual window between seasons.

Can pyometra be prevented?

Preventing pyometra is as easy as neutering non-breeding dogs. Without the ovaries constantly switching from estrogen to progesterone, the mucosa does not build up and pyometra is not possible. In young bitches, the ovaries themselves can be removed. The hormones didn't have time to damage the uterine lining. However, as the dog gets older, a complete ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus) is usually more sensible, since this does not pose a risk of posterior pyometra.

My dog ​​has been neutered, can she still have pyometra?

It is technically possible for a bitch, in very rare cases, to develop pyometra after spaying. Affected dogs often suffer from ovarian remnant syndrome. You left a small piece of the ovary behind after castration. The cycle of this remnant may be sufficient to cause any remaining uterus to undergo the changes that result in pyometra. This can lead to what is known as “stump pyometra”. When the small piece of uterus that is left behind because it is attached to the cervix gets pyometra.

Is pyometra a life or death situation?

Yes. Many cases of pyometra are so severe that prompt treatment is the only thing that can save them. If you suspect your dog has pyometra, you should take him to a veterinarian for evaluation immediately.







(Video) Dog pyometra infected uterus. Dr. Dan explains.

Joe Dunne BVMedSci (hons), BVM BVS (hons), MRCVS

6. October 2020 •286 shares19 comments

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Beverly Smith 4. August 2022


Female Irish Wolfhound, 8 years old in October. Recovered since May 2021 with a diagnosis of autoimmune idiopathic anemia and continued on cyclosporine 50mg Mondays and Fridays. Now diagnosed UTI and bladder stones. Not neutered; no heat cycles for over a year. Small lump on a teat for a year without growth. Stone removal advice and veterinarian suggesting lump removal and sterilization at the same time. Sounds like a big concern about the anesthesia. She was not tested for liver shunt as a puppy. Any suitable advice. Surgery planned for next Thursday.

David Harris 9. August 2022


I would definitely recommend pre-surgery blood, but I think the surgery recommended by your vets seems appropriate. If she has reached 8 with no signs, it is very unlikely that she has a clinically relevant shunt! Stones in your bladder, if they don't dissolve or pass, need to come out; In order to get into the bladder, the abdomen must be opened, simultaneous castration makes sense. At her age the risk of pyometra increases dramatically and since she is on immunosuppressants I think sterilization makes sense at this point as the surgeons will be "in" anyway. And 50% of mammary tumors in female dogs are malignant tumors, so removing those is a good idea too! The greatest risk of anesthesia is in the induction and recovery phases; Although prolonged anesthesia increases the risk, it's not as severe as we used to think.
I think so, but of course I've only seen the synopsis of her story: if you are concerned I would definitely ask to speak to the vet about it and make sure they are sure this is what is best for her .

Yvonne Mckibbin 23. June 2022


My little frenchie had surgery for pyometra a little over two weeks ago, now she has the same color of discharge and is acting almost like she did before the surgery. Lethargic and depressed this is a sign that it has returned and the possibilities and chances are that it will be fine again

David Harris 24. June 2022


Once the uterus is removed, the pyometra itself cannot come back; However, cervical infections can persist after surgery and require aggressive treatment. Definitely get her to the vet as soon as possible! Fortunately, most of these secondary infections are relatively easy to treat medically, although additional surgery is sometimes required. Unfortunately, when there is so much pus in the uterus (like a beeping sound), it's easy to get infections elsewhere. Good luck with her!

Tanja March 8, 2022


I have a golden retriever, we wait the 18 months before neutering to ensure their growth. Apart from that she will have had 2 heats by heat 3, we plan to breed her to only have 1 litter to help her shed the womb lining. Also, we want to keep 1 puppy and her breeder wants one. Will this reduce your chances of getting pyometra after birth and spaying? Or will we still have problems?

David Harris 12. April 2022


(Video) The Emergency Pyometra in Dogs: Risks, Symptoms + Treatment

Once neutered, she may not develop pyometra at any age, so that's not a problem!
The biggest problem is breast cancer (very common in bitches, about 50% of which are malignant). From 3 seasons onwards, castration no longer offers any significant protection against breast cancer, which is why we generally recommend early castration if no breeding is planned.
Of course this is not an option as you are, but it will be important to have her breast tissue checked regularly for lumps and bumps as she ages to catch them early while they are treatable if/when they do occur .
Good luck with her and the puppies!

Anshu 3. November 2021


Hello Doctor,

I have a 9 year old German Shepherd Dog. Never been pregnant. 6 months ago I saw white discharge after heat cycles. The doctor treated her with antibiotics and injections. No download after this. Then 6 months later - same thing and same procedure and same result. No discharge after treatment. The dog showed no behavioral changes. Should I be concerned?

David Harris 15. November 2021


This is consistent with recurrent open pyometra. The problem with medical treatment of pyometra (injections and antibiotics) is that research shows that 80% of the time it comes back after the next season. Open pyometra can be treated, but sooner or later there is a real risk that she will develop closed pyometra, which is usually fatal without emergency surgery. Personally, I would seriously consider having her spayed as soon as possible to prevent this from happening.

Nisha 6. September 2021


Hello doctor! My dog ​​is 11 years old and has had white discharge from her genitals for the past 3 weeks. The discharge is small, odorless and translucent. The vet doubted it was pyometra, but her condition did not worsen. He gave her antibiotics but the discharge still wouldn't stop. My bitch shows no other signs of illness, she is active, has a good appetite and defecates and urinates properly. What do you think it could be?

David Harris 10. September 2021


It can still be an "open pyometra," where the pus drains before it accumulates—sometimes they can rumble for weeks before clearing up, or, perhaps more commonly, worsen dramatically and quickly become life-threatening. Another option could be severe vaginitis but in a whole dog this age I would be VERY concerned about growling pyometra. I would strongly advise going back and talking to the vet again.

Ava 2. August 2021


My dog ​​has white discharge from her vagina but I don't think it's a bad smell. She licks this area more and is very calm and does not eat. I haven't noticed any signs of vomiting or urinating more than usual. She didn't have a litter, but will soon be 4 years old. She is a Great Dane and could this affect her more than a smaller breed of dog?

David Harris 3. August 2021

(Video) What is PYOMETRA? Who's at risk from it? Does your dog have it? how to correct it?


It could be an early cry or vaginitis - either way, veterinary care is a good idea, especially at her age and breed.

mine July 21, 2021


My bitch was bred twice and we plan not to conceive her again, can she still have pyometra?

David Harris July 23, 2021


Yes, she definitely can. A small amount doesn't seem to have a dramatic protective effect against developing pyometra, and some people argue that it increases the chances.
Unless you plan on breeding them again I would advise you to consider sterilization.

Tamera Norton 1. June 2021


My puppy is 10 weeks old and was sprayed... I noticed she had green discharge from her privates... what could it be???

David Harris 14. June 2021


This indicates vaginitis, an infection of the vagina. If she was recently spayed, it could be a 'stump infection'. In any case, I would strongly advise taking her to the vet sooner rather than later.

Sofia 16. April 2021


I'm not even sure I'll get an answer, but my dog ​​almost died of pyometra two weeks ago. She was only 1.5 years old. She was in heat 3 times last year. Because of this and because of Covid, she has been delayed several times to be neutered. However, I'm afraid I'm losing faith in their vets and losing my mind. She has always struggled with food allergies/skin allergies and even had a bald/red/bloody paw from biting and scratching. I noticed there is a black mole-like growth in the paw, what must be itchy? Ever since she was a puppy she was vomiting bile in the middle of the night so I started feeding her more throughout the day but after that pyometra incident...I'm starting to worry that something more serious is coming up goes. That is normal? Sounds like something specific? Your vet never gave you antibiotics to take home after surgery... what should I do?

David Harris 19. April 2021


allergic skin diseaseit's very common and could very well be what's going on there. I think the pyometra is probably coincidental - the two conditions aren't really connected - but without further testing it's impossible to say. If relationships with your vets are strained, it may be worth getting a second opinion on their skin condition - this is very uncomfortable and needs to be addressed. A probable cause is atopic dermatitis, which, however, can usually be controlled today with modern drugs and drug combinations. Much luck!

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