On presentation Toffee was indeed much quieter than normal, sore in her abdomen and had quite a lot of infected looking fluid discharging from her vulva. On cytology (looking at the discharge through a microscope) the fluid had a lot of neutrophils (a type of white blood cells) and rod bacteria. A quick ultrasound showed a uterus filled with fluid, so Toffee was diagnosed with a pyometra (basically a pus filled uterus)!
Toffee underwent emergency surgery to remove her uterus, and hence the infection that was making her feel so unwell. Toffee went home with a course of antibiotics and pain relief following her surgery and is now back to her normal self.
Pyometra is an infectious disease that occurs in the uterus of adult entire female dogs. This typically occurs when the dog goes on heat. The pathogenesis of pyometra is not completely understood, but ascending infection from the vagina, hormonal changes and changes to the uterine structure all appear to be involved.
Pyometra can affect any breed of dog, and while it typically affects older dogs it can occur at any age. Signs of pyometra include: lethargy, inappetance, increased urination and thirst, vomiting, and fever.
The treatment of choice for pyometra is ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus, also called a spey) which means the dog will no longer be able to reproduce. It is a tough procedure given the number of changes the body goes through in this disease but ovariohysterectomy is both a curative and preventative procedure.
Pyometra is one of the reasons we recommend desexing at an early age.