Pyometra is a life threatening, serious infection of the
uterus that occurs in intact females of many species (dogs, cats,
rabbits, rodents and more). It is characterized by production of
large mount of pus within the uterus and systemic toxicity. Middle
aged or older animals are typically affected but young females can
also get sick.
Since dogs and to a lesser extent, cats make the bulk of the pet
population; most cases of pyometra involve these species. Hormonal
changes related to the heat cycle, predispose the uterus to
bacterial infection. The uterus gets filled with pus and various
toxic by-products, causing sever illness. Affected females are
depressed, anorexic, drink and urinate excessively
(polyuria/polydipsia), develop abdominal enlargement and often a
bloody or pussy discharge. Signs progress rapidly and if left
untreated, the disease culminates in death.
Not all cases are obvious and in many cases the diagnosis is made
very late, when the animal is in critical conditions. Many owners
assume it is just a longer heat cycle and wait for it to end. It is
not until the animal becomes very sick that they seek medical help.
The diagnosis is made based on the history of prolonged or recent
heat cycle, clinical signs of excessive drinking and urination, not
eating, listlessness etc. and a physical examination (palpation of
enlarged uterus and perivulvar pussy discharge). X-rays, vaginal
smear and blood tests are done to support diagnosis of questionable
Pyometra is considered an emergency and surgical removal of the
uterus should be done as soon as possible. Many veterinarians will
initiate supportive antibiotic and fluid treatment, in order to
stabilize the patient before going to surgery.
Surgery is dangerous and may get complicate by rupture of the uterus
and pus leakage into the abdomen. Medical treatment alone is usually
unrewarding and not recommended.
Prevention is easily accomplished by spaying the animal early on.
We recommend spaying every female pet prior to the first heat cycle.
It is inexpensive and will prevent unnecessary suffering and death.
Early spay also helps to prevent mammary tumors, another deadly