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Bacterial Infection (Metritis) of the Uterus in Dogs

Metritis in Dogs

 

Metritis is inflammation of the endometrium (lining) of the uterus due to a bacterial infection, usually occurring within a week after a dog has given birth. It can also develop after a natural or medical abortion, miscarriage, or after a non-sterile artificial insemination. The bacteria that are most often responsible for infection of the uterus are gram-negative bacteria like Escherichia coli, which often spreads into the blood, causing a blood infection. The infection may lead to sterility, and if left untreated, septic shock, a lethal condition, may follow.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

  • Discharge from the vulva that smells bad; discharge with pus, or pus mixed with blood; discharge that is dark green
  • Swollen, dough-like abdomen
  • Dehydration (the skin stays tented for a few seconds when pinched)
  • Dark red gums
  • Fever
  • Reduced milk production
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Neglect of puppies
  • Increased heart rate if the bacterial infection has become systemic

 

Causes

 

  • Difficult birth
  • Prolonged delivery, perhaps with a large litter
  • Obstetric manipulation
  • Retained fetuses or placentas
  • Natural or medical abortion, miscarriage
  • Natural or artificial insemination (rare)

 

Diagnosis

 

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis. These tests will help your veterinarian to determine whether the bacterial infection has spread to the bloodstream, where the infection might have originated, and how dehydrated your dog is. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition.

 

Diagnostic tools, like radiograph and ultrasound imaging, will allow your veterinarian to visually examine the interior of the uterus for any retained fetuses, excess fluid accumulation, and/or abnormal amounts of abdominal fluid production due to uterine rupture.

 

 

A sample of the vaginal discharge will also be taken for cytologic (microscopic) examination. A culture of both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that lives with oxygen, or without oxygen, respectively) will be used for identifying the bacterial populations present in the blood, and a sensitivity of the isolated bacteria will be performed so that the most appropriate antibiotic treatments can be prescribed.

 

 

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