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Date:   12 July, 2011  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles & rabbits
How to Detect Pyometra In Your Dog
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
12 July, 2011  
toapayohvets.com 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

Pyometra means a bacterial infection of the womb. This occurs usually 2 months after the heat period in dogs and the presenting sign is dirty blood and yellow pus discharged from the vagina. It is a common older female dog medical condition in Singapore. The youngest female dog I had seen pyometra was a 10-month-old Silkie Terrier but most pyometra dogs in Singapore are over 5 years of age.
 

In some female dogs, there is no vaginal discharge of pus after the heat period. The owner notices that the female dog just licks her vulval discharge daily for more than a week but thinks it is normal.  Actually, it is the start of the pyometra. The dog may vomit a bit or become lethargic but nothing more. Some owners note a swelling in the abdomen as if the female dog is bloated.

There are two categories of pyometra. Closed pyometra and open pyometra. In closed pyometra, the cervix closes preventing the bacterial pus from being passed out from the vagina. The pus accumulates inside the uterine horns, bloating up the uterus till the dog becomes toxic and stops eating. In open pyometra, there is vagina discharge of pus seen. 

Below are two cases of closed pyometra I had operated upon. 

Cavalier King Charles, 6 years. Closed Pyometra. Survived. Singapore. Toa Payoh Vets Cavalier King Charles, 6 years. Closed Pyometra. Survived. Singapore. Toa Payoh Vets  
Closed Pyometra in a 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles. Woke up <2 minutes at the completion of surgery. Went home to a happy family.   
  Miniature Schnauzer, 9 years. Vomiting, Bloated Stomach. Closed Pyometra. Toa Payoh Vets Miniature Schnauzer, 9 years. Vomiting, Bloated Stomach. Closed Pyometra. Toa Payoh Vets
  Closed Pyometra in a 9-year-old Miniature Schnauzer.  Took >120 minutes to wake up after the completion of surgery. Intensive I/V drips and monitoring. Lethargy. Sleepy. She was in the twilight zone as she resisted the pull of the dark forces of death. Went home at Day 2. 
 Pyometra is life-threatening to the dogs. Delays in seeking veterinary treatment have resulted in deaths that can be prevented by spaying your female dog when she is younger.

 
Chow Chow, spayed around 2-3 months after heat, no bleeding, toapayohvets, singapore Chow Chow, spayed around 2-3 months after heat, no bleeding, toapayohvets, singapore Chow Chow, spayed around 2-3 months after heat, no bleeding, toapayohvets, singapore
  Chow Chow, spayed around 2-3 months after heat, no bleeding, toapayohvets, singapore Chow Chow, spayed around 2-3 months after heat, no bleeding, toapayohvets, singapore
  Chow Chow, spayed around 2-3 months after heat, no bleeding, toapayohvets, singapore chow chow dog singapore spayed toa payoh vets 10 months no bleeding
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)4253 - 4259. Best time to spay a Chow Chow is 2-3 months after the heat period. Spaying A Chow Chow at Toa Payoh Vets

If you do not wish to spay your dog, be observant of the older female dog (over 3 years of age) for the next 8 weeks after her heat period.

WATCH OUT FOR THE FOLLOWING:

1. Is her bleeding fresh red and clean which is normal? Normal bleeding of fresh red blood lasts around 7-14 days and return in around 6-monthly interval. This is just a guideline. Cases to be aware of are female dogs cycling every 4 monthly or irregularly.  

2. Has she any brownish yellowish sticky vaginal discharge during and especially after two weeks of bleeding? You will need to use a clean piece of tissue to wipe against the private parts and check yourself.

3. Is she licking her vulva daily and frequently? Consult your vet promptly.

4. Has she got false pregnancy (milk in her nipples and enlarged nipples though she has never been pregnant, strange behaviour - aggressive, withdrawn, vomiting, carrying a toy around to a safe area)?

5.  Has she got tumours in her breast area?  Get them removed early and spay the dog soon.

Do seek prompt treatment when pyometra occurs instead of waiting till it is highly risky to operate as in one of my recent cases described in:
passing pus from the vagina for the past 5 months. very old dog. surgery. pyometra. toapayohvets, singaporePyometra in a 16-year-old Maltese X. Unless you have decided that no operation at all and get the dog to be put to sleep at the terminal stage when the dog can't eat anymore. When that time for euthanasia comes, some owners may still want surgery and in very rare cases, as in this 16-year-old Maltese, the dog survives the anaesthesia and surgery.

However a very long convalescence period is required since the pyometra surgery had been delayed for around 5 months as the owner was very worried about deaths on the operating table. Miracles such as this case do happen but they are rare.  Always remember that the earlier the pyometra is treated, the higher the chances of survival and the shorter the period of convalescence. Your dog's health depends on your judgment and daily check-up to prevent diseases. Nobody does it better than you. Except for pyometra surgery.  

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