What is pyometra and what does it mean for my dog?

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Pyometra is a very serious uterine infection that can be avoided simply by having your dog spayed. When the female dog is spayed, the uterus - as well as the ovaries - are removed, eliminating the risk of pyometra.

Literally, pyometra means pus in the uterus. Generally occurring about six weeks after the female dog's last heat cycle, pyometra can initially present no symptoms, allowing time for the dog to become extremely ill, unbeknownst to most of their owners.

By the time you've noticed the first clues that the dog is sick - like extreme thirst, failure to eat or drink, loss of energy, or a foul smell - the dog's life could already be threatened. If the dog is discharging, she'll stand a better chance, though, than if the infection simply can't escape.

Any vet will recommend emergency surgery for a dog that has pyometra. Without the surgery, the pus will continue to accumulate in the uterus, causing a risk of rupture. After rupture there may be little the vet can do to save your pet. As a matter of fact, you might not even know the uterus has ruptured until it's way too late.

Although some pet owners decline the surgery, opting for antibiotics instead, it's not likely that the dog will recover, and if she does, the chances of getting pyometra again are incredible.

Although the odds of getting pyometra increase after the dog is eight years old, or for dogs that have irregular heat cycles, the disease can actually effect any dog that has not been spayed.

Spaying is the recommended method of avoiding pyrometra altogether, but many pet owners fail to have their pets spayed. Some owners state the cost of the surgery, where as others wish to let the dog have a litter or two before opting for spaying.

If your dog hasn't been spayed be on the lookout for pyometra symptoms within six weeks of the dog's last heat cycle. First symptoms include increased thirst or failure to drink. The dog usually won't take any food - even table scraps. You'll then begin to notice the dog's lack of energy.

Upon noticing any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet, and consider having the dog spayed immediately. Don't take chances with your best buddy; have her spayed long before she faces the danger - and agony - of pyrometra. You'll likely be adding years to your dog's life!

submitted by Emma S.