Kira came to see us as she had been off her food and had been suffering from diarrhoea. She initially seemed a little brighter after treatment, but returned a few days later with the same symptoms and was noticeably thirsty, was panting and her abdomen felt tense. As she was entire (i.e. not neutered), indicators suggested she could be suffering from an infected womb (pyometra), which we confirmed by ultrasound-scanning her uterus.
This is a serious condition. Left untreated, dogs will become very dehydrated, will collapse and ultimately die from septic shock from toxin build-up and the body’s response to this.
Pyometra is common in older female dogs (mostly 6 years old or over) that have not been spayed. Every time a female dog has a season (around twice a year) her body goes through hormonal changes in preparation for potential pregnancy. The changes that occur in the dog’s womb make it more likely for her to contract an infection and bitches with pyometra usually present at the vets 1-2 months after the season.
Kira needed to undergo surgery to remove her pus-filled womb. In this condition, the womb is fragile and dangerous and can easily burst and leak its foul contents if handled too roughly. Also, blood supply to the womb is increased and there is a significant risk of bleeding during the surgery.
The only way to prevent pyometra from happening is to neuter bitches. By removing their ovaries they will not come into season and by removing the womb it cannot become infected.
Kira’s surgery was particularly remarkable because of the size of her infected womb. It weighed over 4kg which is around 8 bags of sugar! We all read, with great interest, a related feature story in a recent edition of the Veterinary Times (the weekly veterinary newspaper). The article was about staff at a veterinary hospital in Cardiff who had operated on a dog with an infected womb that weighed 2.2kg. At almost double the weight, Kira’s beat the featured dog’s hands down! Amazing!