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Pyometra - The silent sickness in your old entire bitchPyometra - The silent sickness in your old entire bitch

Lucy Dowsett

What is this disease we are talking about, that in some cases, you may not even know is happening in your own dog until she becomes very sick and compromised….

Pyometra (pyo) is effectively a pus filled uterus that can develop in an ovary intact bitch.

Why this occurs, without getting too technical, is because of the hormonal influence of progesterone, originating from the ovaries, that influences cyst formation and susceptibility of infection on the uterus –This usually occurs in two different forms that we call an open or a closed pyo. The open and closed is referring to the cervix, so in an open pyo, the cervix is open which means that this yucky pus fluid can be seen as a smelly bloody-pus discharge at her vulva, but in cases where the uterus is closed, this pus remains quite well sealed within the uterus itself and you may not even know it is occurring.

When does this disease occur you ask…It usually occurs about 4 weeks to 3 months after their last heat, and although any bitch that hasn’t been speyed is at risk, we see it most often in older bitches 6-7years +. Nearly 25% of bitches develop a pyometra before they are 10 years of age.

How do you know if your dog has this…Well if it is an open pyo, that makes diagnosis a lot easier as your bitch will have a smelly blood stained pus discharge from her vulva, this may attract attention from the dogs and clue you in to an issue as she would have already just had a heat within the last few months.

The closed pyo’s are trickier, and they may present with just being lethargic, off their food and drinking and urinating a lot. This is why in an older dog, especially if they are a working dog and not having a lot of time spent with them, these things can be easily missed. A closed pyometra is most dangerous as there is nowhere for the pus to exit and the uterus can and does rupture into the abdomen.

WHAT TO DO…if your dog is unwell and a vet confirms the diagnosis (this will often include an ultrasound to look for a fluid/pus filled uterus), the treatment then is surgical removal of the uterus and all its pus contents. The surgery is considered high risk as we are dealing with large, infected and fragile uterus, with very large and tearable blood vessels, not to mention a very unwell dog, so although we have good success with treating these, they are definitely not without their increased risk of complications.

Needless to say, we are all for prevention, and in these cases, this is easily prevented with speying, either before their first heat if not going to be used for breeding, or once they have finished breeding, while they are still healthy and well. Not to mention, you could probably spey 4-5 bitches for the cost of one pyometra surgery, so something worth considering – and no costly mis-mating injections because of the sly Labrador!


The Forgotten Pearls

Read more >Tuesday 27th of August 2019: In our working dogs and pet animals it is relatively common for owners to routinely spot the lameness, the wound or the upset guts, but what about those hidden pearly whites??

How often do we really take the time to lift the lips and have a look at our dogs' eating utensils? A fork won't work without its teeth and neither will a knife without its blade. The same applies to our dogs' mouths.

The Squinting Eye

Read more >Tuesday 27th of August 2019: The most common eye condition dogs present with at the clinic is squinting and almost 95% of the time the underlying reason for this is corneal ulceration.

Corneal ulceration is a defect in the thin, outer most layer of the eye called the cornea. To simply put it, it is very similar to a graze on your skin. This wound can be caused by different things for example; a stick poking into the eye, foreign bodies like barley grass, sand, cat claw grazing the eye and several more of which some can be very complicated.

Kowhai Tree. RIP Tree.

Read more >Thursday 18th of July 2019: During April 2019, Louisa visited an interesting case in the Wairarapa.

The ownerâs 5 year old dressage mare had recently had treatment for an orthopaedic problem and was being returned to ridden work. The owner noticed that she was behaving oddly â perhaps a case of too much grass and not enough work?

Wolf teeth in horses

Read more >Thursday 18th of July 2019: Wolf teeth are technically known as the first premolar teeth in horses. They usually erupt into the mouth at between five and twelve months of age, but do not continue to grow or erupt into the mouth as do the rest of the cheek teeth. It has been estimated that approximately seventy percent of horses will develop wolf teeth.


Read more >Thursday 18th of July 2019: This is the name given not to "affectionate backs" but to over-riding or impinging of the dorsal spinous processes of the vertebrae commonly in thoracic [chest] or lumbar [lower back] region of the horse.

Often it is in the region of wither or saddle and can be associated with a poor saddle fit or trauma/damage often from as far back as when the horse was being broken in or weaning. Horses that rear up and over backwards and land on their withers is a common "accident" that can cause injury in this area. Sometimes we'll never know the cause.

The Importance of Vaccinations – What’s it all about?!

Read more >Thursday 18th of July 2019: Vaccination provides your horse with important protection against some serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. Vaccines act to stimulate the body's natural response to a disease, allowing a rapid and effective response if that disease is encountered later in life. This could be the difference between severe clinical disease and a healthy horse!

Equine Insurance – should I bother?

Read more >Thursday 18th of July 2019: It's a question that's come up time and time again for me over the last year or two. Often, clients will explain that their horses or ponies are not worth very much money, and so they don't think it's worthwhile. I thought I'd put together some of the aspects to consider, and some of the questions to ask about your potential cover. I'll also summarise some of the costs you might expect for treatment for various conditions - you might be surprised!


Read more >Monday 13th of May 2019: General stiffness, slowing down, difficulty rising... Is it just old age? Our senior pets may show subtle signs or be quite obvious in their attempts to tell us about their problems.

Calici Virus confirmed cases in Hawkes Bay, are your rabbits vaccinated??

Read more >Monday 13th of May 2019: Vaccinating every year against the deadly Calici Virus is extreamly important.

We have had confirmed cases of the disease in Hawkes Bay within un-vaccinated rabbits, which unfortunately resulted in death.

Choosing your next puppy

Read more >Monday 13th of May 2019: Pet ownership is very rewarding but the decision should not be taken lightly as it is a long term and substantial responsibility.

When choosing your next puppy there are many things to consider; preferably a happy and healthy puppy and you should also think about the adult size and type of nature that will suit your family and lifestyle.

Ear Disease

Read more >Monday 13th of May 2019: Duck shooting doesn't seem to cause many concerns for our canine companions, usually only a few cuts and bruises that are insignificant compared to the enjoyment derived from the exercise.

However getting damp in water for long periods can give rise to a flare up of ear disease (otitis externa).

Some dogs seem prone to this, often due to an underlying skin allergy or just the makeup of their ear anatomy. Prolonged moisture in the ears promotes growth of yeasts and bacteria leading to irritation, inflammation and pain. This, left untreated, can lead to more serious middle ear disease that is hard to treat and deafness.

Starvation in the midst of plenty

Read more >Monday 13th of May 2019: Diabetes Mellitus is a disease condition where either the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly and causing insulin resistance.

When to bring your working dog in to see us…in less than 24 hrs please…

Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: Over this busy time of year, it can be easy to overlook the working dog with the limp, or the dog that hadn't eaten last night's dinner. What can save you a lot of trouble, both in cost and lack of a worker, is knowing when your dog can wait to see us and when it needs to be seen as soon as possible.

Keeping your working dog working

Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: Working dogs are the hardest working and cheapest labour unit on your farm. Here are a few points to consider to ensure they are in optimal health and are able to give you their best.


Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: Mis-mating is always a hot topic. If this does occurs and you don't want to breed from that bitch in the future, we recommend having her speyed. Speying is a permanent solution and will not affect her working ability, saves you having to worry about her when she is on heat, and in most instances saves you money as you can reduce the amount of food you feed by about a third. If you don't want her speyed, the only other option is to abort the pregnancy. This uses a very expensive drug and is often more expensive than having her speyed. If you do want to breed from her in the future we recommend having her scanned 25 days after mating. At this point we can still give her the abortion drug. The abortion drug works best given < 21 days (99% effective) but if we scan her and she is not pregnant this will save you a lot of money. The injection given at 21-45 days is 95% effective. Give us a ring to discuss further if you have any questions.

ARTHRITIS- The biggest issue limiting working dogs performance

Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: This grading system is helpful to use as guide to get the most out of your working dog team. The following will be a brief description of the four grades along with their corresponding treatment options:

Stitch Up – What can you do to help?

Read more >Thursday 28th of March 2019: Unlike a surgical incision with smooth edges, a laceration is often jagged and irregular and as a result, there can be variable degrees of damage to the underlying tissue and structures depending on the depth and force of the trauma that caused the laceration.

Coughing and Wheezy Horses

Read more >Thursday 7th of March 2019: The classic âcoughing horseâ is a common sight and sound at this time of year, and often transient viral respiratory disease is to blame. But as much as we love to blame a virus, they are not always the cause!

Encysted Strongyles – Small worms, big problems

Read more >Thursday 7th of March 2019: âSmall Strongylesâ or âCyathostomesâ are the terms used for a group of over forty different species of parasites affecting horses. They tend to be the most prevalent parasite within the horsesâ gastrointestinal tract and although small, heavy burdens can result in big problems!

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