Metritis is actually the medical term for acute inflammation of the uterus in dogs. This condition is mostly caused by bacterial infection, and is one of the major post-pregnancy conditions in canines. Even though it generally develops in the immediate postpartum, i.e., right after the delivery, it can also occur after abortion or breeding.
Metritis is often associated with retained placenta or fetuses. It is known to occur after the delivery of a large litter of puppies, as open cervix facilitates easy entry of bacteria in the uterus of dogs. It generally occurs within a period of one week after giving birth. A lengthy delivery process is the most common cause of uterine bacterial infection. It may occasionally be seen after miscarriage, medical abortion, or non-sterile artificial insemination procedures. The retention of placenta, fetuses, and other tissues in the uterus provides a growth medium to the bacteria. The bacteria causing these infections are coliform species, like the Escheria coli. They spread quickly into the blood and can cause serious harm to the dog's health.
The symptoms of this condition can range from mild to severe. The dog may smell unpleasant due to the foul-smelling discharge from the vulva. This discharge generally appears dark green in color, and is a combination of blood and pus. Other symptoms of canine metritis include fever, rapid heart rate, dehydration, vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, dark red gums, swollen abdomen, and reduction in milk production. Additionally, she may experience difficulty in conceiving and may even become infertile.
Metritis is diagnosed by a number of tests performed by the veterinarian. Simple tests, like an X-ray or an ultrasound, can show the retained tissue or fluid in the uterus. The veterinarian will then perform a complete chemical blood profile, urinalysis, and a complete blood count to confirm the condition. The type of bacteria causing this infection can be determined by analysis of a sample of vaginal discharge of the infected dog. Broad spectrum antibiotics will be prescribed till the results are obtained.
Metritis is one of the serious dog illnesses and if left untreated, can lead to septic shock and death. Identification and evaluation of symptoms play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. In case of mild infection, the veterinarian may prescribe certain antibiotics. However, if the condition is severe, then immediate medical treatment will be required. For instance, the dog may have to be hospitalized and administered intravenous fluids and electrolytes.
The treatment may also require removal of uterine contents. This can be done with the help of drugs, like oxytocin or prostaglandins, that help in stimulating uterine contractions. Chronic uterine infections may require surgical cleaning. At times, if the infection is very severe, it may be necessary to remove all the reproductive organs of the dog. Ovariohysterectomy or spaying is often recommended as it proves to be the best option for a successful recovery in such instances.
Make sure that the dog receives the prescribed dosage of antibiotics on time. Early detection of the condition can prevent complications and help in effective recovery.