Amber is a 3 year old female entire Dogue de Bordeaux who came to the Hindley surgery
back in February to be checked over. The owner had noticed some discharge from her
vulva which had started that same morning. The owner had also noticed that Amber had
been sick once on the same day which was unusual. Amber’s last season was reported to
have been back in mid October.
On presentation Amber was bright and happy in herself, but she had a lot of green/yellow
thick discharge coming from her vulva in the consult room. The vet at the time also
checked her cervix, which did feel to be partly open and at the time Amber was also
running a fever.
As Amber’s season had been fairly recent and due to the presenting clinical signs, Amber
was suspected to have an open pyometra which is a womb infection (pyo = pus, metra
=womb or uterus).
With Amber, because there was an obvious discharge from the vulva and she seemed
otherwise well in herself, this was suspected to be an open pyometra where the cervix is
open or partly open and allowing some of the infection to drain away. There is a more
serious type of pyometra which is classed as closed pyometra. This is where no discharge
occurs, and the cervix is closed. This often can be more of an emergency as the infection
has nowhere to go. This means there is a risk of rupture to the uterus or womb and can
lead to more significant signs of systemic illness leading on to the dog (or cat – as cats can
sometimes get this too) becoming very poorly with septicaemia (blood poisoning) and
shock. Occasionally, if left untreated, this can lead to life threatening conditions like kidney
failure / organ failure and could potentially lead to death from these complications.
If we ever suspect a closed pyometra (no discharge evident), we will sometimes take a
blood test to check for signs of infection and also use an ultrasound scan to scan the dogs
abdomen to look for signs of an enlarged uterus or womb.
The owner was planning on having Amber neutered anyway, which we would normally
recommend 3 months after her last season and as she was presenting with signs of
pyometra at the time, it was important to perform an ovariohysterectomy (surgical removal
of the uterus and ovaries) as soon as possible.
Amber was given an injection of anti-inflammatory/pain relief and antibiotic that evening and returned for her surgery the following day, where we removed the infected cervix and uterus. She was put onto fluids throughout the procedure to correct any dehydration and went home with a course of antibiotics and pain relief. Here you can see an example of pyometra surgery – this picture is taken from a previous pyometra surgery (rats star patient may 2013).
Amber returned to the Hindley surgery a few days after her surgery, looking much better
with no discharge evident and recovering well from surgery. Her temperature had returned
to normal and she was eating and drinking well, and taking her medication like a star
Here you can see a picture of amber’s wound – we often use skin stitches to close
the wound. Amber had these removed 10 days after her surgery once her wound was fully
In summary, facts to remember about pyometra:
– the condition is more common in older entire females (normally above 6 years of age) but
as above can sometimes occur in younger females.
– Symptoms will normally develop on average about 4-8 weeks after finishing bleeding
from the last season, however as in Amber’s case occasionally this can occur 1-12
weeks after the last season.
– when a female has a season – twice yearly normally, hormonal changes will occur despite
if she is pregnant or not. This leads to changes in the uterus, which can make infection
more likely with age. The infection typically tends to be caused by E.coli bacteria.
– discharge may be evident from the vulva or they may be paying more attention i.e. licking
or bothering with their back end more than normal.
– vomiting may be evident
– increased thirst and increased urination are often noticed, occasionally the dog may be
drinking so much that they start to have accidents in the house.
– the dog may appear off colour, not wanting to eat and can become quite depressed and
not want to move about much.
– the dog may also have an obvious swollen stomach, where the pus filled uterus can be
felt by the Veterinary Surgeon.
– if left untreated symptoms can worsen over days to weeks, and can lead to dehydration,
septicemia and death so it is important to always have a female dog checked asap if
showing any of these signs not long after her last season has ended.
We recommend spaying female dogs to prevent pyometra from occurring. There are also
other added health benefits to spaying a female dog, such as preventing false pregnancies
and early spaying also reduces the risk of them developing mammary cancer (breast
cancer) later in life. For more information on spaying or pyometra please see our neutering
information page on our website. Remember at 6 months we normally do a free
developmental check up with the Veterinary Surgeon, where we can discuss neutering and decide when is the best time to neuter your pet.