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Overcoming Pyometra

Patient Name: Coco

Patient Problem: Pyometra

Pyometra is a severe, life-threatening uterine (womb) infection that can develop in unspayed, female dogs; the condition is especially prevalent in older dogs but can occur at any age. The term "pyometra" is derived from Latin and means "pus-filled uterus," which accurately describes what happens in the condition. Hormonal changes lead to changes and thickening of the reproductive tract, this creates the perfect environment for opportunistic bacteria to grow and results in an accumulation of pus within the uterus. This accumulation of pus can become life-threatening if not treated promptly, as the infection may spread to other parts of the body, leading to kidney failure, sepsis, and death. 


Coco's case was particularly challenging due to the advanced stage of the infection. The decision was made to proceed with high-risk surgery, a procedure that was three times the length of a standard spay, to remove the infected uterus and treat the condition. This session will delve into the details of Coco's diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, highlighting the collaborative efforts of our veterinary team, including Jo, Seb, and the nursing staff, who worked tirelessly to ensure Coco's return to health.

The Problem...

Coco, following her recent season, began exhibiting alarming symptoms at home: heavy, smelly discharge from her vulva, excessive drinking, unusual breathing patterns, and a general appearance of feeling unwell. These symptoms led to an urgent visit to our clinic, where an examination and ultrasound confirmed a severe womb infection known as pyometra. This condition, which affects a significant percentage of unspayed female dogs, posed a grave risk to Coco's health, including the dangers of kidney failure, sepsis and death.

What We Did...

Upon diagnosing Coco with pyometra, Dr Jo, Dr Seb, and the nursing team, spoke with Coco’s family and discussed the risks and choices available. Coco’s family were very keen to do everything possible to save Coco and so the team sprang into action. Recognising the high risk nature of both a pyometra and its surgical treatment blood tests were performed to ensure the infection wasn’t already affecting Coco’s other organs. Once Coco had the all clear from the blood tests, medications were started and the surgery planned for the following day. 

The intensive surgery, which took several hours - far longer than a normal spay, involved removal of Coco’s engorged and pus-filled uterus which weighed in at well over a kilo! The removal of the infected uterus is curative and although still a long way to go with recovery following surgery Coco’s long term prognosis was much more favourable. Coco was closely monitored in recovery by our dedicated nursing team - anaesthetic recovery for short nosed dogs can be a risky time but she did well and was able to return to her family that evening. Coco had a very long incision, was on strict rest and several medications for the next week but the quick action of her family and our team combined with the intensive, high risk surgery mean that Coco has the best chance of a full recovery.  

What the Doctor Said

This situation could have been avoided had Coco been spayed at a younger age. While it's possible for younger dogs to develop pyometra, the condition is exceedingly rare in dogs under 4 years old. This case underlines the importance of spaying, and preventative care

What the Pet Owner Said

My recommendation to all pet owners is clear: please have your dog spayed. We almost lost Coco, and it would have been our fault. The experience taught us the importance of taking preventive measures seriously to avoid such life-threatening situations.

We're Hiring for a Veterinary Nurse to Join Our Team!

We're on the look out for two veterinary nurses to join our practice and continue to make a difference to the lives of pets just like Deidre. If you're interested, or know anyone that would be, read more about the role or our values today!

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