Do You Have An Unspayed Senior Dog? Watch Out For Pyometra

19 January 2016
 Categories: , Blog

If you have a senior dog who's never had pups or who's taken abortion shots, she may be at risk for a condition called pyometra--an infection caused after the uterine lining thickens. While spay and neuter procedures are often associated with younger dogs, they can be a beneficial option for older dogs with pyometra. Take a look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of pyometra. If you suspect your dog has this problem, take her to a veterinarian right away!

What Causes Pyometra?

When your dog's estrous cycle (when she's in heat) ends, ideally the cervix will close and the inner uterine lining will shrink to its normal size. However, sometimes too much estrogen is produced during this period which can cause cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH). CEH causes the endometrium to thicken; and because there are more pockets of abnormal cell growth, this unfortunately makes it ideal for bacteria--like E. coli--to migrate from the vagina and flourish in the new tissue. The bacteria can develop into pyometra, or a serious infection, thus causing the uterus to swell and even rupture. Because this condition is so serious, it's vital that you know what signs to look for.

What Are the Signs?

There are two types of pyometra: "open" and "closed." Open pyometra is easier to spot because you will notice a smelly, viscous, pink pus draining from your dog's vulva. You may also notice that your dog is cleaning and grooming herself much more often. Closed pyometra isn't as easy to spot or treat because the cervix swells and closes, and pus isn't able to drain. However, you can check for closed pyometra by looking at or gently feeling your dog's abdomen to see if it's swollen. Pyometra can greatly enlarge the uterus, so you will definitely notice swelling! With both types of pyometra you will notice that your dog won't want to eat, but she may be extremely thirsty. She also will show signs of lethargy and fever; she may even vomit due to toxins in the bloodstream.

What Are the Treatments?

If you notice any of the previous signs, err on the side of caution and take your dog to the vet. Your doctor will perform a biopsy to check for CEH. If your dog does have CEH, the vet may do a combination of x-rays, ultrasound, and blood tests to see if the uterine thickening has turned into pyometra. If your dog's pyometra is severe, then the vet may perform an emergency spay.

However, if the condition hasn't reached dire levels, and your dog is relatively healthy otherwise, then the vet may use intravenous fluids and a course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Then, spaying will follow once the fluids and antibiotics do their work. In most cases, spaying is the best option so that pyometra won't have a chance of returning. This can be disheartening if you wanted your dog to have pups. If you are adamant about not spaying and your dog is out of danger, the vet may recommend Prostaglandin to help your dog's uterus to contract and expel the bacteria. This is only an option for open pyometra cases. 

While pyometra is dangerous and scary, your dog can expect to make a full recovery if you are proactive. If you want to take the preventative care route, talk with your vet today about spaying your dog before this condition occurs.

To learn more, contact a company like Caring Hands Animal Hospital