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Pyometra Warning


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I just wanted to take a little time to give forum users a warning on this subject.

My dog, Keiko, has just been through an operation to remove her uterus after experiencing pyometra. I cannot tell you how scared I was, particularly considering that we lost Kai a few weeks ago.

In the lead up to the operation, Keiko had been haemorrhaging blood quite alarmingly. However, I had coincidentally been to the vet shortly before this, and had been told that as Keiko gets older her seasons might become more severe. If I hadn't been informed of this, I would have taken her into the vet, and had the situation dealt with, much sooner.

Other symptoms that Keiko exhibited were a significant loss of appetite that became almost total, general lethargy, and occasional vomiting. I didn't notice her particularly drinking or urinating more than usual, until the last couple of days.

Because she is so tough, Keiko was still running around after a ball two days before she had the operation. A couple of weeks before, although she was bleeding a lot more than in usual seasons and eating less, she was still doing quite well. I thought she was just having a difficult season in heat.

I kept checking online, and there was quite a lot of overlap with the symptoms of pyometra and severe episodes of heat, plus online sources repeatedly stated that seasons can last for four weeks. So it was only in the last couple of days when Keiko started to really struggle that I began to become concerned.

Keiko ultimately lost nearly one-quarter of her body weight, and was very poorly after the operation. I didn't think she was going to make it. She collapsed under her own body weight, wouldn't move, wouldn't acknowledge anything, wouldn't drink, wouldn't eat, and seemed to even have trouble breathing.

I could barely sleep, and I prayed for the first time in my life. I didn't know what else to do. I've never been religious, but I just said: "look, I'm not a bad person, and I'm not ready to lose her. She doesn't deserve this either; she's the best dog. If you give me some more years with her, I'll go to church. I can't say I'll go every week, but I promise I'll attend at least once!".

I'd put my mattress on the living-room floor so I could be with her, and when I woke up at 7am, Keiko was looking at me and wagging her tail. I was so relieved. She then recovered very quickly. She has been ravenously hungry, and her old personality came flooding back almost immediately.

Keiko has put quite a bit of the weight lost back on now, and is doing really well. I have attached an image of her that I just captured; you can see on her underbelly where her coat was removed for the incision.

I just wanted to mention this to people, as I was not misinformed by my vet, but inadvertently given a false impression. I am willing to accept that it's partly my fault as well, although I was aware of pyometra. I just thought Keiko was having an unusually difficult season.

This could have been dealt with much earlier, and if she wasn't as strong and tough as she is then she might not have pulled through. So I just wanted to encourage readers that if you have a female dog of a certain age, and you start seeing more blood than usual in particular, or any of the other pyometra signs, please do get her checked out.

I am one of those people who will tend towards thinking everything is going to be okay, maybe just wishful thinking, but in this instance it wouldn't have been okay, so please do err on the side of caution. If she hadn't made it, I would never have forgiven myself, and having just lost Kai it would have been unbelievably tough.


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Thank you for sharing. I believe pyometra isn't very, very common but when it happens it can be very nasty - fatal in fact.

This thread will likely come up on Internet searches so it's a helpful and useful warning for other pet owners.
A timely reminder, thank you. I'm very pleased your dog has pulled through - in my experience, dogs recover very quickly from a hysterectomy in these circumstances, provided the uterus hasn't ruptured, so it can be removed cleanly.

Pyometra was incredibly common wnen I was a vet nurse (in the 1970s), I'd say it was our most common operation and it would be an unusual week if we didn't have at least one. However, dogs are neutered these days as a matter of course, so it's probably pretty rare now.

Just to add to your post, there is a type of 'closed pyometra' where there is no or very little discharge, making it hard to detect. The symptoms are very similar to those you describe, but without the bleeding/discharge (which can also appear as yellowish green because of the pus). So anyone with an unneuteted bitch needs to be aware of the signs, especially a rising temperature and drinking lots of water, in dogs over the age of around 5 or 6, depending on the breed.

Well done with Kai! You did well to persist after some fairly casual advice from the vet.
Thank you for the comments and wishes everyone!

What I hope will come across to people is that it can be quite tricky to diagnose this without scanning, particularly if you have a healthy and strong dog.

I hope I'm a good dog owner in many respects, but I am completely average when it comes to medical knowledge of dogs. I feel lots of other average dog owners could end up in the same situation, so I hope that they will read this, it will stick in their minds, and they will take precautions if they do encounter any even slightly unusual symptoms.
I hope I'm a good dog owner in many respects, but I am completely average when it comes to medical knowledge of dogs
You ARE a good dog owner, you did everything you could, to the best of your ability. That's all any of us can do.

Dogs are ridiculously stoic. Showing weakness isn't a good survival skill so they hide illnesses very well. So don't beat yourself up.

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