Tasha, a 10-year-old intact female English Mastiff, presented to ACC of Plainfield on recommendation from their routine veterinarian. Tasha had been lethargic for the past 72 hours and over the last 24 hours began refusing food. Her owners noticed she seemed uncomfortable, continuously repositioning herself and never seeming to be able to relax or get comfortable. Additionally, that morning they noticed a slimy brown puddle on the comforter Tasha was sleeping on. They assumed it was feces due to the fowl smell but later observed a small amount of the same material emerging from her vulva.
On presentation Tasha had an elevated heart and respiratory rate, which can be an indication of pain, and a low-grade fever of 103.3F. She walked very carefully with a hunched posture and was uncomfortable on abdominal palpation. These clinical signs in correlation with her history and the fact that she is an intact female made us very suspicious that she was suffering from pyometra. Pyometra, broken down to the roots “pyo-’ meaning infection and “-metra” pertaining to the lining of the urterus, simply means an infection of the uterus. Pyometra is hormonally mediated but does include severe secondary bacterial infection. The tissue of the uterus will become inflamed and swell while the lumen, or hollow center, of the organ will fill with pus.
This image shows a normal uterus on the left. Note the thin tubing composing the clearly identifiable ‘Y’ shape of the dog’s reproductive tract. Compare that to the grossly engorged structure to the right, a uterus with pyometra.
With a high suspicion of pyometra we acquired radiographs (x-rays) of Tasha’s abdomen and clearly identified the swollen uterine horns, confirming our suspicion. A CBC and Chemistry were run to better evaluate Tasha’s overall condition and judge how appropriate of an anesthetic candidate she was. We always want to be sure out patient is stable enough to undergo anesthesia before rushing them into surgery. Tasha received aggressive fluid therapy, pain medications and anti-nausea medications in the meantime.
The recommended procedure to resolve a pyometra is an ovariohysterectomy, a spay. Unfortunately, it is much more difficult in this situation, comes with a more guarded prognosis and a greater risk of complication. Not to mention it’s quite a bit more expensive. Tasha’s procedure went very well and there were no surgical complications. Pictured below if Tasha’s inflamed, pus filled uterus both in surgery (left) and once fully removed (right). She recovered from anesthesia well, was kept on pain medications and allowed to rest quietly through the night.
The next morning, Tasha was feeling much better, ate some breakfast and went home wagging her tail that afternoon. She will be on antibiotics and pain medication for 2 weeks following her procedure but it not expected to have any lasting complications.
Please help us control the pet population and prevent cases like Tasha’s in the future by spaying your pets!