Pyometra Uterus Infection in Bulldogs

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

“Pyo” means pus, and “metra” refers to the uterus. When these Latin terms are combined, they form “pyometra,” indicating an infected uterus filled with pus.

Pyometra Uterus Infection in Bulldogs / CAUSE:

Pyometra is a condition that occurs only in intact (unspayed) females.

Here are the most common causes:

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): While UTIs do not cause pyometra, the bacteria from a UTI can ascend beyond the urinary tract, contributing to the condition.
  • Vaginal Skinfold Dermatitis: Infections can also originate from the area around the vulva or due to inflammation and infection in your bulldog vaginal skin folds, that may eventually reach the urinary tract and uterus.

bulldog painful vaginal skin fold dermatitis

UTERUS INFECTION AND THE HEAT CYCLE

Pyometra commonly develops about two months after an intact female dog experiences her heat. Pyometra is linked to the pregnancy hormone progesterone; the uterus is most susceptible to infections during peak progesterone.

This susceptibility increases as your bulldog ages, making older, intact bulldogs more at risk.

If pyometra is not promptly addressed, the infection and associated toxins can lead to:

  1. 1. systemic infection
  2. 2. sepsis
  3. 3. organ failure
  4. 4. tragic death

bulldog-uterine-infection-pyometra

Uterus Infection Pyometra in Bulldogs / TYPES:

There are two types of pyometra: a milder “open” and a more serious “close” one.

OPEN PYOMETRA UTERUS INFECTION

Open indicates an open cervix, which allows the pus to exit the body and drain out of the uterus. This type is characterized by visible pus draining from the vaginal opening.

The discharge is typically

  • thick
  • smelly
  • sticky and stringy
  • yellow pus and sometimes bloody 

CLOSED PYOMETRA UTERUS INFECTION

With the cervix closed, no pus drains out, making it harder to detect the infection. This lack of external symptoms means the condition often remains unnoticed until the pet becomes ill. As the disease progresses, pus accumulates, filling the uterus and expanding it to a dangerous size. This toxic, septic buildup not only stretches the uterine walls but also threatens significant damage, compromising the integrity and function of the uterus. The trapped infection increases the risk of systemic illness, making timely intervention crucial to preventing life-threatening complications.

Pyometra Uterine Infection in Bulldogs / DIAGNOSIS

  1. Dr. Exam:
    • Time of last heat
    • Vaginal inspection
    • Vitals: temperature, heart rate, pulse, etc
    • Abdominal palpation: large, tight abdomen in closed pyometra
  2. Lab Test
    • CBC: abnormal WBC count
    • Chemistry: liver, kidneys, etc
    • Urine
  3. Imaging:
    • Radiograph: closed pyometra will have a large pus-filled uterus
    • Ultrasound
    • bulldog closed pyometra radiograph

Pyometra Uterine Infection in Bulldogs / PREVENTION

Preventing pyometra focuses significantly on proactive measures that eliminate or substantially reduce the risk of this serious condition.

Here are key strategies:

1. ELECTIVE SPAY

Elective spaying (ovariohysterectomy) is the most effective method to prevent pyometra.

2. VAGINAL AND PERIVALVULAR HYGINE

Maintaining cleanliness around the vaginal area can help prevent bacteria from ascending into the uterus. This is particularly important for bulldogs with deep skin folds, hooded vulva, and infected tail pocket, who may be more susceptible to infection. Daily inspection and wiping with bully antiseptic wipes are critical

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3. BALANCED NUTRITIOUS DIET

A balanced diet supports overall health and strengthens the immune system. Proper nutrition is crucial for keeping an animal’s defense mechanisms robust against infections.

4. UTERUS INFECTION  IMMUNE SUPPORT:

Ensuring your pet’s immune system is strong and managing stress. A healthy immune system can fend off the initial stages of many infections, including those that could lead to pyometra.

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BULLY THERAPEUTIC SUPPLEMENTS PYOMETRA PREVENTION

Certain supplements can bolster a dog’s immune system  and urinary tract health

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Uterine Infection Pyometra in Bulldogs / TREATMENT

Pyometra in bulldogs is a grave and potentially fatal condition. The most effective standard of care involves surgically removing the infected uterus to eliminate the source of infection and its accompanying dangers.

HORMONAL THERAPY

While hormonal therapy can be tried in bulldogs intended for breeding, it’s generally discouraged due to its limited effectiveness and high risk of the condition recurring.

ANTIBIOTIC TREATMENT

Antibiotics may offer some success in managing open pyometra or when surgery isn’t viable because of the dog’s health issues.

PYOMETRA SURGICAL REMOVAL

The preferred approach to treating bulldog pyometra involves surgically removing the infected reproductive organs along with their toxic contents, significantly mitigating associated risks. However, it’s important to note that, unlike a routine elective spay, the removal of an infected reproductive tract, particularly in cases of closed pyometra, presents a greater challenge and carries numerous risks. These risks include:

  • Bleeding: The surgery can lead to significant bleeding. In pyometra cases, the blood vessels of the ovaries and uterus are often engorged, which complicates the process of ligating them and increases the risk of bleeding.
  • Contamination: There’s a risk of contaminating the surgical field if the pus-filled uterus leaks during removal. This is especially concerning in closed pyometra, where the uterus is can be large and filled with infection.
  • Anesthesia Risks: The illness from pyometra can exacerbate the risks associated with anesthesia. Bulldogs with pyometra are often in a weakened state, dehydrated, ill and sometimes septic; therefore, the stress of surgery can pose additional risks.
  • Surgical Challenges: In some instances of closed pyometra, the uterus may occupy almost the entire abdominal cavity, necessitating a wide incision for removal. This not only makes the surgery more complex but also increases the surgical time, recovery time, and risk of complications.
  • Compromised Uterine Wall: The wall of the uterus may be compromised, ruptured, or easily torn, raising the possibility of pus leaking into the abdominal cavity and contaminating adjacent organs. This scenario poses a significant risk of peritonitis and can be life-threatening.

Given these challenges, the timing of the surgery, adequate support measures (such as intravenous fluids and antibiotics), and surgical expertise are critical to the success of the treatment. A veterinarian with experience in emergency and critical care surgery as well as bulldog anesthesia protocols is often required to manage the complexities of bulldog pyometra surgery effectively. The collaboration between the pet owner and the veterinary team is essential to navigating these risks and ensuring the best possible outcome for the dog.

The preferred method of treatment is the surgical excision of the reproductive organs (ovariohysterectomy).

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH PYOMETRA SURGERY SUMMARY:

  1. bleeding
  2. anesthesia
  3. surgical duration
  4. contamination of the surgical field
  5. degree of difficulty compared to routine spay
  6. recovery time

Uterine Infection Pyometra in Bulldogs / PROGNOSIS

When the surgery to treat pyometra is successful, the prognosis is generally excellent, as the source of the problem—the infected uterus—is removed. This surgical intervention not only addresses the immediate threat to the dog’s health but also eliminates the risk of recurrence of pyometra since the reproductive organs that could become infected are no longer present.

Recovery from surgery typically involves post-operative care, including pain management, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, and careful monitoring for any signs of complications. Most dogs show significant improvement within a few days after surgery, with a return to normal activities and behavior as they recover.

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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