About Metritis in Dogs

Nursing mothers may pass their infection to the puppies.
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Metritis is an infection of the uterus, usually occurring after a dog gives birth. The condition can be dangerous to both the mother and the nursing puppies and should be treated immediately. If the infection becomes septic, affecting the blood and other organs, treatment becomes much more difficult.

Risk of Metritis

Metritis is an inflammation of the uterine tissue due to bacterial infection. The most common bacteria in this condition is E. coli, but streptococci, staphylococci and Proteus sp may also be to blame. It may be caused by pieces of the fetus or placenta remaining in the uterus, prolonged delivery, miscarriage or more rarely, artificial insemination. The infection is life threatening and may result in infertility and septic shock.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of infection usually begin within a week of delivery. Your dog may have a pus like secretion from her vulva, fever, swollen abdomen, dark red gums, lack of appetite, listlessness, reduced milk production and increased heart rate. She may also neglect her puppies or push them away. Restless or frequently crying puppies may be another sign of the illness.

Diagnosis Process

Your veterinarian may feel your dog's abdomen to see if the uterus is still large and flaccid. He will also usually perform either an x-ray or an ultrasound on your dog to see if any fluid or pieces of placenta or fetus remain in the uterus. A hemogram that shows increased white blood cells will also indicate an infection. A microscopic examination of the vaginal fluid will help the vet determine which bacteria is causing the infection, allowing treatment to be more targeted.

Treatment Options

IV fluids and broad spectrum antibiotics are usually administered to help the dog overcome the infection. Medications like prostaglandin and oxytocin may be administered to clear the contents of the uterus. In severe cases or if the dog is not going to be bred again, the uterus may be surgically removed to reduce the chance of the infection spreading and becoming septic. If is often necessary to hand raise the puppies so they don't receive the infectious bacteria or strong medications through nursing.