Pyometra in Dogs

Pyometra in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Abdominal Distension / Anemia / Lethargy / Poor Appetite / Vomiting / Weight Loss

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Rated as moderate conditon

49 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Abdominal Distension / Anemia / Lethargy / Poor Appetite / Vomiting / Weight Loss

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Pyometra in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Pyometra?

Pyometra is an infection of the uterus, the reproductive organ of a female dog. The uterus becomes filled with pus and the infection can spread systemically leading to sepsis. Pyometra occurs commonly in older intact female dogs and will begin several weeks after a heat cycle. It develops due to an increase in hormonal stimulation from the uterus combined with introduced bacteria.Pyometra can be identified by abnormal discharge from the vulva, weight loss, lethargy, and on occasion abdominal distention. Underlying causes of pyometra include urinary tract infections and poor hygiene.

Treatment for pyometra can be either medical or surgical and is dependent on the severity of the disease. Pyometra can be prevented with elective ovariohysterectomy (spay surgery), which is recommended in puppies unless the dog is intended for breeding.

Pyometra refers to a purulent (pus-filled) infection in the uterus. It occurs in older intact female dogs, but can also occur in unspayed dogs of any age. Left untreated, the infection can spread systemically and is potentially fatal.

Symptoms of Pyometra in Dogs

The following symptoms can be seen with pyometra:

  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive water consumption
  • Excessive urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Serous vaginal discharge, usually containing blood and pus
  • Abdominal distension

Pyometra should always be considered in older intact female dogs, even if only one or two of the above clinical signs are exhibited.

Types

There are two types of pyometra - open and closed.

  • Open pyometra is named for the condition in which the cervix stays open and the infection drains out from the uterus through the vagina. A classic sign of open pyometra is purulent discharge from the vulva.
  • In closed pyometra, the cervix is sealed and the infection is trapped in the uterus. Closed pyometra will progress quicker and is more severe because the infectious discharge accumulates within the uterus with no escape.

Causes of Pyometra in Dogs

Pyometra develops through the assistance of hormonal stimulation from progesterone and oestrogen in the uterus. Progesterone and oestrogen are hormones that are naturally produced in the ovaries lining the uterus. If bacteria is introduced into the uterus at a certain time during the hormonal cycle, the hormonal action will facilitate the spread of bacteria leading to an infection.

Factors that contribute to the development of pyometra include:

  • Injections of oestrogen (for prevention of pregnancy following mating)
  • Administration of progesterone to delay oestrus
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Poor hygiene and faecal contamination into the vagina
  • Postpartum metritis (inflammation of the uterine wall after giving birth)

Diagnosis of Pyometra in Dogs

Pyometra is suspected upon presentation of the above clinical signs as well as signalment. It has common incidence in older, unspayed female dogs, but will be suspected in unspayed females of any age. Several diagnostic tests may be performed including palpation, vaginal cytology, evaluation of blood parameters, urinalysis, radiography, and ultrasonography.

Palpation (feeling for an enlarged uterus) is more useful in closed pyometra where uterine enlargement and distension are prevalent. Vaginal cytology is helpful in open pyometra as it evaluates the contents of the vaginal discharge. Cytology is performed by taking a sample of the discharge and examining the components under a microscope. The veterinarian will look for abnormalities such as the presence of bacteria and a high white blood cell count.

While the pyometra infection begins in the uterus, it will eventually spread systemically leading to septicaemia (blood poisoning). Therefore, blood tests and urinalysis are performed to help determine the severity of the infection. Certain blood value abnormalities are characteristic of pyometra.

Radiography is more useful in the case of closed pyometra as the enlarged fluid filled uterus can be visualised on x-rays. Ultrasound can definitively diagnose the fluid filled uterus of closed pyometra as well as reveal increased thickness in the uterine wall that is seen in cases of open pyometra.

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Treatment of Pyometra in Dogs

The most effective treatment for pyometra is surgical removal of the uterus (ovariohysterectomy). Medical management can be considered in less severe cases of open pyometra if the owner wants to use the dog for breeding.

Surgical treatment is always indicated in cases of closed pyometra, especially if the infection has spread systemically. It is also indicated in older dogs that are not intended for breeding. Ovariohysterectomy is performed as soon as possible when the dog is in a stable condition. There is an increased anaesthetic risk in elderly or compromised patients. Recovery is relatively quick and the dog is usually sent home with medications for inflammation and pain, as well as a course of antibiotics to counteract the spread of infection.

Medical management is indicated in cases of open pyometra that are less critical, as well as if the dog is younger and has particularly valuable genetics for breeding. Medical management involves injections of hormone prostaglandins, concurrent antibiotics, and fluid therapy. Depending on the preferred protocol, the prostaglandin injections are given for 3 - 7 days and the antibiotics for at least 2 weeks. Side effects that may be seen include excessive panting, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Dogs will need a recheck following completion of treatment.

Recovery of Pyometra in Dogs

There is a high risk of reoccurrence after medical management of pyometra. In some cases, this risk can be decreased by mating the dog in the next oestrus cycle following treatment. If pyometra reoccurs or if the patient does not initially respond to medical management, surgical removal of the uterus will be required. Once breeding goals have been met, dogs should be spayed to prevent reoccurrence of pyometra.

With ovariohysterectomy surgery, the uterus is completely removed so once the patient is fully recovered, there is no risk of reoccurrence. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed for 1-2 weeks following surgery. Dogs will require a post-operative check approximately 14 days after surgery to check for adequate recovery and healing of the wound site. Exercise should be limited in this period immediately following surgery to allow for optimal healing.

Cost of Pyometra in Dogs

Treatment cost will depend on the severity of the infection and whether medical management or surgical treatment is necessary.

Medical management with prostaglandin injections will cost between $200 - $500 depending on the amount required and duration of treatment. Antibiotics will cost approximately $60 - $150 for a two-week course. If intravenous fluid therapy is deemed necessary by the veterinarian, this will be an additional $150 - $300. In some cases, subcutaneous (under the skin) fluid therapy will be sufficient, which is usually around $60 - $90.

Surgical removal of the uterus is a more intensive treatment and thus incurs a higher cost. An ovariohysterectomy including all surgical and anaesthetic fees will be around $1200 - $2800. The cost in a pyometra spay (compared with an elective spay in a healthy animal) is higher due to the presence of infection and increased risk.

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Pyometra Average Cost

From 22 quotes ranging from $750 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,200

Pyometra Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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dixie

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Labrador Retriever

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16 Years

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Odor
Urinating In House
Clear Urine

hi, my 16 year old lab just was diagnosed with pyometra 15 hours after we had the first visable symptoms of something wrong. Because she is so old, I am worried more about surgery and want to do agressive antibiotics first. She is on Amoxicylin now and will start additional meds tomorrow. What are her risks for surgery at her age and am I making the wrong or right decision?

July 11, 2018

dixie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Surgery is the treatment of choice in cases of pyometra not just to remove the uterus but there is a high recurrence rate in cases treated with antibiotics; surgery is more risky in older dogs and the decision to go ahead with surgery would be down to the discretion of the Veterinarian performing the surgery as they need to be confident that Dixie is stable enough for surgery. You may try aggressive antibiotic therapy to make improvement in the overall condition. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 11, 2018

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Dixie

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Mixed

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11 Years

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My dog was just diagnosed with a closed pyometra and is at the vets at this very moment. We chose to treat her without surgery due to the cost. And will have her spayed at a later time. Her bloodwork was very bad. I'm second guessing our decision to go this route. Opinions. Advise. Thoughts on her chances of survival. Thank you in advance.

July 10, 2018

Dixie's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Typically a full ovariohysterectomy is the treatment of choice for pyometra (closed or open) however medical treatment is sometimes given for a variety of reasons; however, pyometra has a high rate of recurrence if a dog is treated medically so it is always best to go the surgical route. Without examining Dixie I cannot weigh in on the prognosis, however your Veterinarian would be able to give you specific advice; but if there is a chance, have her spayed even if you need to visit a low cost clinic. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 10, 2018

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Lady

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Staffie

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Pyo

My 10 year old dog is in pet hospital waiting on having pyo op. They tried this morning to do it, but my dog was sick after having anaesthetic. So are going to try tomorrow. My pet has fluid in her tummy. Any help greatly appreciated.

July 4, 2018

Lady's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It is important for Lady to be stable for surgery, however without examining her I cannot add anything of value to help with getting her fir for surgery as there are many variables. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 5, 2018

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Lily

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Bullmastiff

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9 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Week Ago Expelled A Lot Of Blood,

My vet believes my unspayed 9y/o had an open pyrometra. I said because of her age and nipping people, surgery wasn't an option. My vet said if I did nothing was like meat rotting and it would eventually cause other organs to fail. But from what I have read I have not seen that. She is licking so it is draining, she has no fever but has not really ate in the week since it happened but in summer she will go days. He did put her on enrofloxacin in case it was an infection. She is not weak or grumpy, just licking . She did also expel a lot of blood last week 3 weeks after heat cycle. Question is do I have to operate or put her down? Those were his only options. Nothing with medication. Also is she more likely to have it again now?

June 19, 2018

Lily's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Even though the pyometra is open (draining), medical management with antibiotics isn’t always successful and there is a very high chance of recurrence between 50-75% depending on the literature; in any case of pyometra, surgery is considered the treatment of choice and is a surgery every Veterinarian is familiar with. You may try medical treatment first, but bear in mind the high recurrence rates and the longer you leave it before surgery the higher the risks of complications. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 20, 2018

Thank you for your help. I made the decision to have Lily put down. She was aggesive with people and other dogs and I had been debating about doing it anyway because of my fear of her hurting a neighborhood kid. So this happening was the sign I needed to do something I didn't want to do to my loyal compainion, but my daughter who she has nipped at since she could walk had to take priority. If I thought she would have recovered from this I would not have done it.

June 27, 2018

Lily's Owner

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Roksi

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Bernese Mountain Dog

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1 Year

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Vaginal Discharge
Weakness
Vomiting

Hello.My 1 year old Bernese mountain dog got open pyometra.Shes been not eating for 4 days.She vomits a lot,and one day she even had bloody diarhea.The Vets are giving anti-biotics and fluids for her to stabilize.My question is should the surgery be performed imediately or it will be better to wait?

May 29, 2018

Roksi's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Immediate surgery is usually best; however if your Veterinarian determines that she is not fit for surgery or not stable enough at this time, they will give medical management until they determine that she is fit for surgery. Sometimes jumping straight into surgery can do more harm than good in severe cases. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 30, 2018

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Bella

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Jack Russell Terrier

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15 Years

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Serious condition

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Increased Urination
Excessive Thirst
Uncomfortable
Distended Abdomen

I just lost my sweet Bella today because of this. She was a 15-year-old Jack Russell terrier. She had been urinating a lot, even in the house sometimes, and was drinking excessive amounts of water. Also, she couldn't get comfortable when she laid down. She would groan and grumble a lot, and her abdomen was distended. We took her to the vet yesterday, and he did blood work and an x-ray because he suspected pyometra. I decided to proceed with the surgery, but when he opened her up he found a mass on her kidney that had adhered itself to her ovary. At that point, he recommended euthanasia rather than put her through anymore. I miss her so much. She was the absolute light of my life. Please if you don't plan to breed your dog, get her spayed now. Don't wait.

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Sadie

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Golden Retriever

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6 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

I just adopted a 6-8 year old former golden/lab mix who went through pyometra surgery at end of November. She was treated with a 2nd course of antibiotics due to frequent urination and leaking urine during recovery from surgery. She is now done with the 2 week course of meds but still leaking urine and has to wear a diaper 100% of the time. Could there be something else going on as the vular area is still very swollen and there is a flap of skin on the right side of the vulva area where the leaking is occurring. I have never encountered this with a spayed female dog before but am worried about what is causing the leaking which has increased over the 4 weeks since pyometra surgery. We started Sadie on Proin a few days ago but no improvement. Thank you!

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Willamina

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Labradoodle

dog-age-icon

Six Years

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Critical condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Vaginal Bleeding

My mom's dog was diagnosed and had surgery for pyometra about 10 days ago. The surgery went well and all seemed fine after, she had minimal discharge, was having regular bowel movements, was eating and drinking fine, and even began to play (which we tried to keep to a minimum). Three days ago she started bleeding out of her vagina, so much so that we had to get her diapers. We took her back to the vet and they prescribed a coagulant (For some reason my mom didn't give her that). This morning she went through three diapers worth of blood. The blood had clots in it as well as normal blood. We called the vet and they said there was nothing more to do and to monitor her and let them know if she starts throwing up or has any other changes. She acts like nothing's wrong but we are concerned something has happened internally either from the surgery or post op. Any advice on what may be causing this or what we can do to help her get better would be GREATLY appreciated. This is my mom's first dog, which I got her for Christmas last year, and it would absolutely destroy her is she passed away ):

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Pebbles

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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Critical condition

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Hi. I had a chihuahua that was roughly 16 years old. She weighed 3 1/2 pounds. She had bloody discharge, she wouldn't eat, she vomited and was so weak that she couldn't get off of the couch. I brought her to an emergency vet. They did some blood work and they said her kidneys were failing. They tried antibiotic treatment and they said she looked worse after the treatment and didn't think she would make it through the rest of the day. She had two very large fluid filled sacs in her uterus that caused belly distension. The doctor told me that she wasn't a good candidate for surgery. She recommended Euthanasia. I had never heard of Pyometra and didn't want her to be in pain. I agreed to it and I miss her every day. I am wondering if I made the right decision. I am not a vet and I am wondering if more could have been done for her.

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Tiny

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Panting

My 9 year old chihuahua had pyometra surgery On Saturday May 18, the first days were extremely hard she wasn’t eating or drinking water and didn’t want to walk. By Wednesday she started to eat and drink water but we noticed that her breathing wasn’t normal. She won’t stop panting and it gets worse at night, we’ve been back and forth from different animal hospitals and they say that her X-rays are normal, she’s gaining weight and her gums are pink but they don’t know why she is constantly breathing so fast and loud. Her meds aren’t making anything better and we are very concerned that something is wrong. Has anyone else experienced this with there animal and if so what helped?

Pyometra Average Cost

From 22 quotes ranging from $750 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,200

Cannanine