Pyometra in Dogs: Phoenix’s Lethargy and Loss of Appetite

What if your intact female dog lost appetite and became lethargic shortly after her heat cycle? How does it fit with your dog’s normal? How does it fit in the big picture?

Pyometra in Dogs: Phoenix's Lethargy and Loss of Appetite

What if your dog was a middle-aged intact female who just recently finished her heat cycle? Would that change your point of view on the same set of symptoms?

What difference does that make?

Phoenix was a middle-aged, intact female. She’s always been healthy and hasn’t visited a veterinarian in years. Her parents brought her in because she was lethargic and not eating.

Phoenix was looking really sick.

Her parents couldn’t afford to take her to an emergency clinic. As a result, they had to wait until a regular clinic opened. The diagnosis was fast and straightforward–Phoenix had pyometra.

Pyometra is a bacterial infection of the uterus. That sounds so much less scary than it is. It is a life-threatening condition that needs prompt, aggressive treatment–surgery.

If your intact female dog is going to get this severe infection, it’s going to happen following her heat. It is the hormonal changes in the reproductive tract that bring it on.

As the body prepares for pregnancy, the uterine lining thickens. It continues to thicken with every heat cycle that doesn’t result in pregnancy. The thickened tissue is the perfect environment for bacterial growth. Eventually, things reach a critical mass.

If the cervix remains open, you will notice pus and abnormal discharge, which, hopefully, will bring you to a vet.

If the cervix closes, all of that remains trapped inside, releasing toxins that make their way into the bloodstream. Closed pyometra is way more dangerous one of the two. Your dog will look and act very ill, just like Phoenix did.

What are some of the symptoms that come with closed pyometra?

  • increased urination
  • increased drinking
  • distended abdomen
  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • listlessness
  • lethargy
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Increased drinking alone, in a female dog who recently came out of heat, should be suspect for pyometra.

If your dog just was in heat and there is anything at all strange about them, see a vet. With pyometra, early diagnosis and treatment are vital.

By the time Phoenix made it to a vet, her pyometra was quite advanced.

Her uterus was more than twice its normal size–4 pounds of an angry nest of puss and fluid. It took two hours to remove that from Phoenix’s body.

Even after her surgery, Phoenix wasn’t out of the woods. Two days later, she was still down and refusing to eat.

Phoenix’s story has a happy ending.

But not all pyometra cases do. Sometimes the dog doesn’t get to a clinic until it’s too late. As a result, some dogs die because their parents cannot afford the life-saving treatment.

It is always a tragedy when a dog dies from a preventable and treatable disease.

If you have an intact female dog, be aware of this dreadful condition that can kill her. Know when it’s most likely to strike and what it looks like.

Original story:
Pyometra. The Challenge of Finding a Happy Ending

Related articles:
Congratulations, It’s an Infected Uterus: Miku’s Story

Categories: ConditionsEmergenciesInfectionsPyometra

Tags: :

Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

Share your thoughts