It’s a girl thing
Infection of the uterus, or ‘pyometra’ is a problem we diagnose fairly often in female dogs who have not been desexed. Most owners will notice their ‘Bella’ becoming sick, not wanting to eat much, drinking lots and needing to go out to urinate a lot too. The give away is that Bella was on heat or in season a few weeks earlier…
Uterine infections can develop when Bella’s body doesn’t ‘clean up’ properly after she was on heat. Sometimes the cervix stays open and the infection can drain – a stinky problem but at least it rings alarm bells quickly when the gross mess starts appearing on the carpet. The more serious cases we see are when the cervix closes and traps the infection in the uterus, which swells like a balloon. The infection spreads across into the bloodstream and Bella is in danger of dying from either her uterus rupturing or blood poisoning.
The treatment is simple – we desex Bella. The desexing surgery involves removing the uterus and ovaries which prevents Bella becoming pregnant but also removes the source of the infection. Unlike desexing a healthy dog this surgery for Bella is a lot more challenging, with a sick patient, more blood loss plus infection to deal with, but if done in time is lifesaving. She will need to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours or perhaps even several days until the blood poisoning is under control and she well enough to return home.
Dogs at highest risk are females over the age of six, particularly if they have not had litters of pups regularly, although any female dog that can come into season can develop a uterine infection.
So next time you see your ‘Bella’ on heat please remember to keep a close eye on her in the weeks that follow. If she is unlucky and does develop an infection the sooner she receives treatment the better her chances are for a rapid return home.