Meet prescilla. She's normally an active little old dog and because there was no chance of her getting pregnant her owner had decided not to desex her. Prescilla came in to see me a few weeks ago because she had gone off her food and was very quiet and lethargic and her belly was getting big. She had been on heat a couple of months ago and there was no way she could have been pregnant.
We did an ultrasound of her belly and found that it contained a large fluid filled structure.
Based on this finding and her history I was highly suspicious that Prescilla had a pyometron.
What is Pyometron?
Pyometron is a condition where hormonal imbalance causes changes in the uterus and the uterus then becomes infected. A pyometron can be classed as either open or closed according to whether the cervix is open or not. If the cervix is open the pus can escape out and although not well the dogs are not as critically ill.
A closed cervix means the pus has nowhere to go so the uterus has to enlarge in size as it fills with pus. Toxins produced by the bacteria are released into the dogs circulation making them very sick.
Signs of pyometron:
- pusy discharge (only if open)
- enlargement of the abdomen
- reduced appetite
- drinking excessively
- vomiting and diarrhoea sometimes
Treatment of Pyometron
The most important part of the treatment is surgery. The infected uterus needs to be removed. This is done by removing the ovaries and uterus just like we do at desexing. Here is Prescilla's surgery:
As you can see Prescilla's uterus was absolutely huge! Interestingly the pyometra was contained to one side of the uterus and the other side was completely normal. Her body was very effective at walling off the infection but it essentially meant that she ended up with an abscess inside her.
Medically Prescilla was treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. The next day she was bouncing around and ready to go home.
Prescilla came back to visit a week later and is all back to normal.
How can I prevent pyometron?
Desex your dog. A very high proportion of undesexed female dogs develop pyometron. The older they get the higher the risk. If you are not breeding your dog then get her desexed!