I WISH I HAD KNOWN…My dog almost died!

Pyometra…

    • may occur in any sexually intact young to middle-aged dog; however, it is most common in older dogs. (Source: VCA)
    • is relatively common, affecting approximately 25% of unspayed female dogs and cats.  (Source: Animal Medical Center)
    • is most often found in dogs of any breed between the age of 6 and 10, and may be more common in dogs that have never had puppies.  (Source: College of Veterinary Medicine)
    • occurs in about 25% of unspayed female dogs before the age of 10 (Source: VetHelpDirect)
    • can develop in any unspayed female dog (Source: FirstVet)
What percentage of female dogs get pyometra?

Pyometra literally means ‘pus in the uterus’. It occurs in about 25% of unspayed female dogs before the age of 10. In essence, pyometra is a uterine infection.

What breeds are more likely to get pyometra?

The risk of developing pyometra was increased (identified using multivariate models) in Collies, Rottweilers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and English Cocker Spaniels compared with baseline (all other breeds, including mixed breed dogs).

What are the first signs of pyometra?

Symptoms of pyometra include early warning signs of the animal feeling unwell, such as vomiting, refusal to eat, lethargy, increased thirst and frequent urination. She may also appear to be uncomfortable, because pyometra is a particularly painful condition for dogs, while being somewhat less so for cats.

When older, surgery / anesthesia is more risky.

Spay the dog as early as possible. Spaying your dog has numerous health benefits. Most important, it removes the risk of pyometra since she no longer has a womb to become infected. If performed before her second season, there is also a protective effect against mammary cancer in later life. The younger you spay your female dog, the more health benefits she will have.

  • A female dog can be spayed starting at several months old, and then at any point throughout her life. Very old dogs may not be the best candidates for the surgery, as they often have health problems that can make surgery more dangerous.
  • Your vet may recommend extra blood work and other diagnostic tests to make sure your dog is healthy enough for the surgery.

Schedule the surgery at the right time. A female dog usually has two heat cycles a year, and each is a huge hormonal event. Near the beginning, the blood supply to the uterus increases, and then the blood supply tapers off after the season. The ideal time to spay the dog is about two months after the end of the previous cycle up to around one month before the start of the next one.

  • The increased blood supply to the uterus makes the tissue more susceptible to tearing with normal surgical handling, causing an increased risk of serious hemorrhage.

Know the difference between open and closed pyometra. Pyometra is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that takes two forms: open and closed. The basic difference is that in open pyometra the cervix is open and drains, while in closed pyometra the cervix is shut the pus does not drain and the uterus may rupture.

  • The uterus can still rupture with open pyometra if the pus builds up before it can drain.

Identify the causes of pyometra. Pyometra is most likely to occur around four to eight weeks after the end of the heat cycle, although it can occur at any stage of a female dog’s reproductive cycle. The condition is caused by the influence of hormones, such as primarily progesterone, on the lining of the uterus.

  • Increased hormones leads to thickening of the uterine wall, and the rise in gland secretions leads to a lowered immune system. These conditions cause an increased risk of bacterial infection.
  • Older dogs, over the age of six years, are more likely to suffer from pyometra. However, occasionally a young dog is unfortunate and gets pyometra after her first or second season.

Recognize the signs and symptoms of pyometra. The signs of pyometra indicate that the dog doesn’t feel well. The dog may drink excessively, urinate more frequently, or vomit. She may also have a poor appetite and lethargy.

  • If she has open pyometra, she may spend a lot of time licking her vulva and you might see pus staining her bedding.
  • In extreme cases of closed pyometra, her belly may become swollen.
  • Take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice these symptoms.

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