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Canine Trauma

Pyometria: Therapeutic Alternative to Hysterectomy

By John Allinson

Pyometria is a dreadful disorder that as breeders we hope we never encounter. Veterinarian surgeons will always tell you that the treatment of choice is hysterectomy, and this can be devastating because of its finality. This is more especially the case if the bitch has never had a litter and is genetically and physically a 'quality' bitch. I am so careful with my dogs that I was shocked at letting my daughter's bitch 'Pepsi' out of her kennel 15 days after mating, to find her totally lethargic. An inspection revealed a very severe vaginal discharge, a temperature of 104C -- and my worst nightmare.

I had of course, swabbed this bitch prior to mating and treated her accordingly. Obviously something had reinfected her post mating. My vet was new to me, as we had only just moved. The practice wasn't aware of my experience or qualifications in either dog breeding or pathological analysis. The response was predictable -- we had to spay her. After much discussion we agreed to her hospitalisation. An IV drip was started to re-hydrate her and she was put on a combination of Synulox and Baytril. I immediately swabbed her and set the culture going.

Her response was dramatic in her physical signs and she left hospital 48 hours later continuing her antibiotics. The culture revealed a very resistant culture of E coli which was only marginally sensitive to Bayatril - resistant to everything else tested on this first occasion. When her antibiotic therapy had stopped, so did her apparent good health. Overnight her temperature shot up again and her discharge restarted. She was re-hospitalized, restarting her drip and Baytril. My vet insisted on spaying her. I agreed to sign a consent form but only on the basis that they contact me before commencing the operation and got to work on the bacterial culture again.

This time I tried everything I could get my hands on. I wanted my vet to try prostaglandin therapy but without knowing that we had a good chance of preventing an immediate re-infection which the current antibiotic therapy did not seem able to give. Both my vet and I agreed this was a last chance. The results were encouraging. A fairly new antibiotic -- Marbocyl -- proved to be more efficient in stopping the bacteria growth. My vet acquired some the same day and Pepsi was started on it immediately in place of the Baytril.

Pepsi's condition rapidly improved again and the prostaglandins were administered for 4 days while she remained in hospital. She returned home having lost a huge amount of pus, etc. due to the prostaglandin's contracting the smooth muscle of the uterus in an attempt to clear it of all infectious material. The Marbocyl treatment continued and I took daily swabs to monitor the progress which showed a continual and steady reduction in the amount of bacteria present. After another week, we decided to maintain the Marbocyl treatment up to its maximum 40 days and then keep our fingers crossed. She didn't reinfect!

Due to the pyometria, it was essential to try and get her pregnant at her next season to avoid another pyo which is a high risk. When her season started she also recommenced the Marbocyl which was to last another 40 days. We didn't want to take any chances!

Pepsi produced 3 healthy puppies 62 days later. As I write this article, she is nursing 12 puppies produced after another pregnancy during which she contracted another infection from the same strain of E coli that had caused her pyo. This required 3 courses of Marbocyl to get rid of. Since Pepsis experience, 2 other GSD breeders and 2 breeders of other dogs have used the same strategy. All 4 bitches have recovered from their pyometria and we are awaiting the mating of the first of these bitches in the near future.

Here then we have real hope of successful treatment for 'open' pyo as an alternative to hysterectomy. A few points do need making, however.

  • Prostaglandin therapy is painful due to the uterine contractions (and other smooth muscle as well) It is normally short lived, but be prepared for it. Your vet may insist on hospitalisation during this treatment.

  • In my tests Marbocyl has been amazingly successful and I have not yet come across any bacteria which are not sensitive to it. It has not been subject to toxicity studies in dogs although tests on rats and rabbits showed no side effects on pregnancy. My 2 litters have been normal todate.

  • Marbocyl therapy is limited to a max of 40 days. By the way- Marbocyl is recommended for infectious diseases of the skin and soft tissue as well. It will be interesting to see if it is as successful in other conditions (eg Frunculosis)

  • Marbocyl belongs to a group of compounds called Fluoroquinolones. These have been shown to induce erosion of articular cartilage in juvenile dogs and therefore should not be used in young dogs. Therefore your vet may be reticent to use it in certain cases.

The author, John Allinson, may be contacted at Pearlsyde Analytical Services, Rose Cottage, Cliffe, Selby, North Yorkshire, NO87NU. UK. Tel: 01757630667. Many thanks to Alyson Lockwood for making publication of this article possible.

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