Pyometra in bitches and queens: antibiotics alone will NEVER be enough

I often hear stories of pyometras that have been cured in breeding bitches and queens only after a course of antibiotics. I always go by the say “Everything is possible in biology”. But in this specific situation, well, the truth is it is really unlikely that was a pyometra you were dealing with…

Pyometra: not only a bacterial disease

 

Pyometra literally means pus in the uterus. It is for sure the result of a bacterial infection… but not only! Pyometra is what we call a “progesterone-mediated disease”. It happens usually in the two months following ovulation in bitches and queens, when their ovaries mainly secrete the hormone progesterone. Progesterone indeed blocks the uterine contractions so if there is an infection going on inside this organ and pus starting to develop, it will accumulate inside. Pyometra sensus-stricto will not happen after parturition (since there will be no more progesterone). If you see purulent vulvar discharge in a bitch/queen after parturition, this is more likely to be what we call post-partum endometritis, which is a totally different disease.

You now understand that pyo is a combination of two factors (bacteria + hormones) that lead to the disease’s development. Antibiotics might limit the bacterial development for a while, but it will NEVER eliminate the hormonal influence…

Is there a solution then?

 

Good news: there are medical alternatives available today in veterinary medicine. Pyometra is no more the end of the reproductive career in breeding females, since we have medical protocols that will take care of both the bacterial and the hormonal component of the disease. And not only is the treatment efficient, but it is also able to maintain fertility in valuable breeding animals. Look at the results below from a study we did few years ago on this topic.

 

Should we try the medical treatment or not?

 

In fact, that is the real question. The medical treatment is a great option (we can now also use TECT, look at my previous post on this technique here), but it might not always be the best solution. That is why it is always important to have a discussion with your veterinarian, so that you can take the right decision. However, if the animal suffering from pyo is a valuable breeding individual and you really think she will bring an added value to your breeding program, it is good to now that we have efficient medical options.  

 One thing to keep in mind: medical treatment does NOT prevent recurrence of the disease: this might be observed in up to 20% of breeding females at the following estrus cycle. That’s why after a medical treatment, we always recommend to breed the bitch/queen at the following estrus cycle. As my former boss used to say, pregnancy is from far the best way to prevent reccurrence of pyometra in breeding individuals.

If you want more info as well, don't hesitate to watch this video of our previous webinar on uterine disorders in canines

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